Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Geis: A Matter of Life & Death

Geis: A Matter of Life & Death is a fascinating and exciting graphic novel debut. Impressively, it is also the first book of  a trilogy. The plot here is set in a medieval time, when the Great Chief Matarka is dying without leaving an heir. In this land, the custom is to have a contest among 50 worthy people to determine who the new chief will be. The twist in the proceedings is that an evil sorceress has tricked those 50 participants into signing a geis, a taboo spell that bounds them to specific quests. Should they fail in those quests, they not only die but their souls will become bound to the sorceress.

I thought that the artwork and the plot of this book were both exceptional. There are multiple twists that kept me guessing and intrigued for what was to come, and the book ends on a cliffhanger. The artwork is expressive and elegantly detailed, even with its muted color palette. But perhaps the best part of the book is its characters, who are brilliantly complicated figures full of contradictions and nuance. I cannot wait to see where this series goes.

This book's creator Alexis Deacon is an accomplished children's book author, two-time winner of the The New York Times Best Illustrated Children's Books Award. Among his many works are Beegu, Slow Loris, and While You Are Sleeping. He speaks about his work on Geis in this interview.

All of the reviews I have read about this book have been very positive. Kirkus Reviews wrote, "Scenes switch among the players with cinematic authority, offering both unforgettable images and unanswered questions aplenty." Matthew Garcia remarked that it was full of "spectacular storytelling." John Dubrawa called it "a wholly sensational piece of fiction" and "one beautiful looking nightmare."

Geis: A Matter of Life & Death was published by NoBrow Press. They have a preview and more available here.

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