Keeping the Castle by Patrice Kindl
Keeping the Castle is a delicious mix of Jane Austen plots and styles with a bit of I Capture the Castle mixed in. From the first chapter, where our heroine Althea lost a suitor when she admitted to marrying him for his money and equated it to him marrying her for her beauty, I knew I liked this girl. I've always had a soft spot for heroines who are exceedingly practical and Althea, mostly by necessity, was all about saving money and taking care of business. The supporting cast of characters are all engaging in different ways and I especially loved Mr. Fredrick's friendship with Althea's little brother Alexander. It's a quick read, only about 250 pages and in short chapters that fly by, but its humor and style are simply delightful. Highly recommend for anyone who's looking for a light, lighthearted read.
Writer: Joe Keatinge Artist: Leila Del Duca
I've been really looking forward to getting a chance to sit down and read Shutter as I'm a big fan of Leila Del Duca's art and I had honestly no idea what the series was about (but how much do I love that cat on the cover??) The best parts of Shutter, in my opinion, are Keatinge's details (Harrington's origins, the Scarry-esque assassin) and Del Duca's character designs. Everything feels fresh and original and the story twists and turns in unexpected and unpredictable ways. I did feel, however, that there were a lot of questions and twists without the character depth or background information to pull them off. Plot twists are the most effective when you know why they are important and how they affect the character. More than half the time, I didn't know either and was just going with the flow. Even now, I probably couldn't describe who Kate is as a person. I have hope that Keatinge is just trying to pull the reader in, grab them in a Nolan-esque way, and we'll get that much needed plot and character development in the coming issues. I'll definitely keep reading to see, if only for more of Del Duca's lovely evocative art.
Writer: Nancy Butler Artist: Janet K. Lee
Northanger Abbey is my favorite Jane Austen novel and a perennial reread of mine so when I saw that there was a graphic adaptation, it was picked up at Powell's posthaste. Butler's alterations of the script are, for the most part, on the mark. It's hard to adapt a rather lengthy novel into a five issue run and she did an admirable job. A few of my favorite lines were missing but I'm a diehard fan that would notice and completely realize that that is more on me than on her. The important bits were there. I was a little curious on some of her pacing choices -- some of the more unimportant scenes getting more precedence panel-wise over scenes I think should have been lengthened. But, once again, my opinions might be more personal in this case. I constantly wavered on how I felt about Lee's art. At first, I was slightly taken aback, unsure on some of the designs. I would get used to it and then a new character would appear and throw me off again. John Thorpe was a gorilla of a man and while I appreciate that his physical appearance definitely mimicked his personality, he was the only character so overdrawn and seemed like the Hulk had suddenly shown up in Bath. I think, ultimately, I quite liked the way she drew women and backgrounds but was never quite enamored with her men, which is a shame because Henry Tilney is my one true literary love. This may not be my favorite Northanger adaptation but it will go on the shelf of honor, all the same.