Archival Quality by Ivy Noelle & Steenz. Oni Press, 2018. 9781620104705. 276pp.
After losing her previous job because of a breakdown, Celeste is hired to archive photos at the Logan Museum, a spooky building which houses a collection of medical photos, documents, and more. Things feel weird and spooky right from the beginning. She’s only allowed to work at night. Her boss, Holly, and the Curator, Abayomi, seem both overly concerned and unwilling to share information about the place, despite the fact that someone may have broken in while she was there alone. There’s also a mysterious Board of Directors, and the weird more-than-dreams that Celeste is starts to have.
This is a great readalike for Vera Brosgol’s Anya’s Ghost, about a girl who falls into a hole and makes a ghostly “friend.” Librarians reading it may be disappointed that neither librarian in the story has an MLIS, and that the cataloging of the photos Celeste scans isn’t at all technical, but overall this is a good read about a young woman trying to make her way back into the library work world, and the spooky stuff all ends up having a mental health tie-in.
Glister by Andi Watson. Dark Horse Books, 2017. 9781506703190. 302pp.
This is an omnibus edition of four shorter graphic novels originally published by Walker Books back in 2009 and 2010: Glister: The Haunted Teapot, Glister: The House Hunt, Glister: The Faerie Host, and Glister: The Family Tree. I’m a huge fan of Andi Watson’s graphic novels for kids (Princess Decomposia, Gum Girl) and adults (Little Star, Love Fights), but somehow failed to connect with this series when it was first published. Having all the books in one volume seems to have made all the difference — they’re excellent.
Glister Butterworth is a fearless, friendly little girl who lives in Chilblain Hall with her father and, well, others. Strange things happen around her, her world is full of ghosts and creatures and faeries, and her house is somehow alive (and moody). In the first book, her supernatural adventures are far more fun than freaky. The teapot is haunted by the ghost of a terrible author who runs her ragged when she helps him finish a novel. In the second, after being insulted, Chilblain Hall’s mood is in the dumps. Glister tries (and fails) to cheer it up, so it leaves. She sets off to find it. The third book opens with Chilblain Hall getting a new neighbor, Faerieland, and a new visitor, Glister’s missing mother, who she talks with in her mirror. Glister will, of course, have to set off into Faerieland to rescue her. Luckily she has the magic hoodie her mother made for her when she was a child. In the fourth, the Butterworth Family Tree blooms, and to Glister’s delight, several of the relatives she’s only seen in portraits around the Hall come to visit. Her delight doesn’t last long and the visits may cost her and her father their home.
Watson’s style is more cartoony than realistic, and it has a sketchy, hand-inked feel that gives his stories an energy lacking in many kids’ graphic novels. Each of the stories is reproduced using a single color, which seems to highlight his talents. It’s the perfect way to create a world in which the supernatural is present but isn’t too threatening.
I’m still looking for a horror novel or graphic novel for the Halloween season, but these at last have friendly ghosts. Those count, right? Added bonus: they’re both good readalikes for Raina Telgemeier’s last book, too.
Graveyard Shakes by Laura Terry. Scholastic Graphix, 2017. 9780545889544.
Ghosts and ghouls dance beneath a cemetery, but they don’t like Little Ghost, who is scared of them. But he has a friend who lives there, Modie, a boy whose father keeps him alive by using a spell every thirteen years to feed Modie the life of another child. (Yeah, killing that kid. This happens the beginning and makes the whole book seem like it’s going to be much more grim than it is. And on the up side Modie is trying to convince his dad to stop.)
Fast forward twelve years and eleven months… In the nearby Bexley Academy’s dorm, two sisters Victoria (older, calm) and Katie (little, wild) are getting ready for their first day of class. They’re scholarship students and the other kids treat them like crap (though Katie doesn’t really notice). As Modie’s dad searches for a new life to feed his son (and Modie pleads with his father not to do such a horrific thing), the girls try to fit in. Victoria finally makes a friend — Little Ghost! — and Katie makes friends with wilder ghouls who lead her to behaving badly. It’s pretty clear that one of the girls will need rescuing from Modie’s dad eventually, but it all unfolds organically and somewhat unpredictably. The storytelling, drawings, and the color all look wonderful.
Surfside Girls: The Secret of Danger Point by Kim Dwinell. Top Shelf, 2017. 9781603094115.
Dwinell’s first graphic novel is a story of two surfing friends, Jade and Samantha. Jade is a bit boy crazy. Samantha prefers bugs. After they hear that a resort is going to be built on Danger Point, ruining their surfing beach, Samantha finds out that she can see ghosts and that she has become the guardian of Danger Point. There’s even a cute young boy ghost. It’s an entertaining book with a pro environmental message full of girl power.