Text Story by Kiersten White, Art and Art Story by Jim Di Bartolo
Intended for age 12 and up
I am really excited about this novel of suspense and horror! Its main characters are young adults who live in or are visiting a boarding house by the sea. Two sisters share some duties with their mother after their father’s mysterious death. Three young men, one terminally ill, are visiting with them. The boys’ respective fathers are also deeply involved in something sinister. As the plot unrolls, the characters become embroiled in a chilling series of events that seem to involve far more than their sleepy little town. Reluctantly, they find themselves forced into more and more dangerous situations that involve not only their fathers but many of the townspeople they thought they knew well.
I want to hand this book to all my reading friends and order them to read it, and look at the twin story in paintings by Di Bartolo. It is a brand new technique to me. It’s not really manga, because there are no thought balloons or speech balloons or captions or any text whatsoever accompanying the paintings. It’s not really an illustrated narrative either, because the pictures have a purpose beyond accompanying and interpreting the text. I believe there are two narratives going on in parallel, both delivering the plot in different ways and from different points in the narrative.
At first I had no idea what the paintings showed, because they start the book, and with no captions I was lost. Still, they are so compelling that I spent several moments on each picture, struggling to “read” it. It wasn’t until I had read a fair bit of the text that the pictures started to have a narrative for me too. Then the two media started to work together brilliantly.
The text itself is a verbal wonder that conjures a visual wonder as effectively as the paintings. White creates characters you can see, without wasting a word. The creepy atmosphere of horror is just as much a product of the evocative writing as the shivery paintings. The story is a series of shocks to the nervous system that will keep you turning the pages well in to the night. Now that I am tuned in to the art work, I am going to re-read it to see what I missed at the beginning. This is a book that will merit second or third or even more readings.