Wednesday, April 5, 2017

The Stone Heart

The Stone Heart is the second book in the eventual The Nameless City trilogy, and I know that second books can often feel like filler to get through before the dramatic conclusion, but this one left me breathless. So much happens in it that kept me wondering what was to come next that I really don't want to give much detail and spoil things for others. Let me just say that the political scheming gets complicated, there is a murder, and a new war for the city seems to be looming.

Pretty much the detail I will reveal is that a couple of new characters get introduced, friends of Rat. Iniko and Hannya are a couple of street performers. Iniko plays guitar (badly) in a band, and Hannya and her family are acrobats. They are not around for much of the book, but because of them we learn that Kai is pretty good as a musician.
Part of what makes this book so compelling is its interesting characters and their relationship dynamics. There are a couple of father/son conflicts, between Kai and his dad as well as between the General of All Blades and his son Erzi, which make for good points of juxtaposition. Also, we learn more about Kai's and Rat's parents. Still with all of this great character work, there is no shortage of action in this book. I cannot wait to see how all of it comes to a conclusion in the next volume.

This book's author Faith Erin Hicks has been an excellent, prolific comics creator, and she is one of my favorite artists. Among her growing list of graphic novel publications are Friends with Boys, Brain Camp, and Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong. She also has published webcomics, including The Adventures of Superhero Girl, which won an Eisner Award. She was joined by Jordie Bellaire who colored this book in beautiful fashion, adding lots of rich, lush flourishes to the detailed illustrations. Hicks speaks about her work on this book in this interview, where it is also announced that this trilogy will be made into a cartoon series.

All of the reviews I have read about this book have been glowing. Kirkus Reviews gave it a starred review and explained that it "introduces a few new characters but mostly provides a vital and enthralling closer look at those readers have already met as well as unfurling more of the Chinese-inspired city’s past, as colorist Bellaire brings all to stunning emotional life." Elizabeth Reid wrote that in addition to "its page-turning plot, every page of The Stone Heart has gorgeous, full-color artwork." Oliver Sava commented that it is full of "smart, evocative creative decisions."

The Stone Heart was published by First Second, and they have a preview and much more available here.

A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher.

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