Alabaster: The Good, the Bad, and the Bird by Caitlin R. Kiernan and Daniel Warren Johnson

Alabaster: The Good, the Bad, and the Bird written by Caitlin R. Kiernan and illustrated by Daniel Warren Johnson

Published by: Dark Horse Books on September 13, 2016

Review Source: Publisher, Edelweiss

Genres: Graphic Novel, Fantasy

Plot: Ever since Dancy died in a fire she’s been battling personal demons and trying to make her way towards some peace.

Review: Let’s do a pros and cons breakdown.

Pros:

  • It’s uniquely poetic. One thing that I really enjoy about Dark Horse is that they are not afraid to breakaway from the usual and take chances on a comic. Kiernan’s series isn’t your average bear, and I appreciate that. She is trying to breathe poetry, music, religion, and higher thought into her series. It isn’t easy to pull off in a comic, but she gives you some serious food for thought.
  • Kiernan has stellar taste in music. One little gem I enjoyed in this one was Kiernan’s musical Easter eggs. Throughout the volume she tags each segment with the music she has written it to. High five for adding First Aid Kit. I adore them.
  • It tackles the concept of grief. Grief is this messy thing that everyone approaches differently. It’s also something that I feel people don’t talk about as much as they should. Dancy’s saga rings true, and Kiernan handles this difficult topic with and openness and honesty that is to be admired.

Cons:

  • You really need to read the previous volumes. If you are new to Alabaster, this isn’t the place to start. Kiernan doesn’t dive into Dancy’s past enough to bring on new readers, nor is there any indication that there was an established before. You just have to be in the know.
  • The world building is off. This really ties into my previous comment about the necessity to read works that came before in the series. Throughout the course of the volume, we follow Dancy as she remembers her passing and her unwillingness to be called back once more. We see that there is a love interest that put her in the ground, and we see some psycho sisters with a mysterious agenda. What we don’t get is an explanation. It can be very hard to puzzle out who Dancy is or where she is going if you aren’t familiar with the series. Traditionally, writers will include some background to catch a new reader up to speed (and perhaps this will be in the final print, but I’m reading an ARC), but as it stands, you are simply thrown into her world. It makes it hard to connect and sympathize.
  • The artwork was hard to follow. Johnson has skill as an illustrator, and I liked his style, but the characters didn’t stand out as individuals to me. It left me having to double back and figure out who I was looking at.

As a whole, I like Kieran’s writing, and Dancy is a highly intriguing character, but this volume would be better served with the addition of content that will help new readers acclimate.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Who Should Snag It: Fans of Kiernan and Johnson’s previous works, or those who are invested fans of the series will enjoy this more than others.

*I would like to thank Edelweiss and the publisher for providing me with a free ARC in exchange for a fair and honest review*

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