Thursday, March 10, 2016

Delilah Dirk and the King's Shilling

Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant did an excellent job setting a stage and an action-packed set of events in motion, and its sequel Delilah Dirk and the King's Shilling goes an extra mile and starts filling us in on the main character's backstory. The story starts out well enough, with Delilah and her traveling companion Selim involved with a typical caper-gone-awry. You can see that the attention to artistic detail and storytelling is still very strong:
Following this romp, our two main characters end up running afoul of British troops. I am not going to spoil things, but I will say that this encounter sets things in motion so that Delilah and Selim have to travel to England, where we get to meet Delilah's family, including her mother.
To say that Delilah has not been forthcoming with her is an understatement, but to complicate matters more she has also been reluctant to share certain truths with Selim. So, we end up with much character drama to go along with a spy plot. Plus, while in England we get to look at how Delilah operates within society, which puts a huge crimp in her swashbuckling ways. Still, there is a sense of excitement in all the mannerly dialogue, gossipy intrigue, and reconnoitering in various manors. If nothing else, it's fun to see her and Selim as they squirm in uncomfortable situations. I was easily caught up in the proceedings and found this a fun book. I think that the characters get more fleshed out by the conclusion, and I was pleased to see that they were much more complex and well defined than the stock types they could have been.

The book's creator Tony Cliff is an artist, animator, and illustrator who shares much of his works in progress on his blog. His artwork features well defined characters full of emotional and kinetic energy. He can show a slow burn just as well as he does adventurers swinging across ship masts or plunging from burning bridges. Cliff has done much commercial work and has been nominated for Eisner, Shuster, and Harvey Awards for his comics work. He speaks pretty extensively about this book and his characters' development in this interview.

All of the reviews I have read about this book have been full of acclaim. Publishers Weekly gave it a starred review and offered this praise: "Cliff ups his game visually with a more nuanced and naturalistic style, and he doesn't miss a beat story-wise, keeping the swashbuckling front and center while adding new layers to his characters." Kirkus Reviews also gave it a starred review and echoed, "The character development adds welcome depth to an already absorbing adventure." Rachel Forbes called it "Another whirlwind adventure that builds upon Cliff’s unifying factor—true friendship" in yet another starred review.

Delilah Dirk and the King's Shilling was published by First Second and they have lots of information about it here. A portion of this book was serialized online and now acts as a sizable prologue/preview at the book's official page. The entire series also has a dedicated website with lots of great links here.

For DD fans, a third book in the series has just been announced.

Thank you for the preview copy, Gina!

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