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   "The Spider Moon" by Kate Brown, published by David Fickling Books
   Spider woman    (16.07.10)


   The Spider Moon by Kate Brown is the third in David Fickling's
   adventurous new library of bande dessinée books for younger
   British readers. Like Good Dog, Bad Dog and Mezolith before it,
   this release has risen from the embers of "The DFC", a short-lived
   but much admired weekly comic that toyed with greatness a
   wee while back.

   "The Spider Moon" toys with greatness, too. It drops us into the
   midst of an exotic island society whose very existence is in peril.
   There is a prophecy that says this homeland will one day be
   crushed by the sky, and it will be proceeded by falling stars.
   To avoid this calamity a floating island has been constructed, but
   political infighting and manipulation threatens the concord that
   exists between the various races of this land, and as they squabble,
   so the stars around them are already starting to fall.

   We learn all this through the eyes of a young girl called Bekka.
   We witness her following her island tradition and embarking on
   her first deep sea dive, acquiring the skills to harvest the spinefish
   which are sold on to make oil to fuel the magisterial island.
   But Bekka's dive goes oddly awry, and suggests that something
   still more prophetic may be coming in to play, even as the stakes
   ramp up around her family and friends...

   It's an ambitious story, then, and some younger readers may
   have to wrestle with its detail, but visually, they should be instantly
   engaged. The author has a lovely, decorative drawing style that's part
   manga, part Goble and Vess. Her clean line art is embellished
   with recurring motifs, strings of stars and little fishes meandering
   around the panels, guy ropes fixing others to the page. The book
   works best as a first step towards the magical world of manga.
   If young readers take to this, then they might be ready to take
   a hop and step across the floor of their local Waterstone's to
   delve into that rack of exotic eastern promises in the graphic
   novel section. Best of all, it will surely inspire a section of its
   readership to pick up a pen and get drawing, and to this end,
   there's even a step-by-step guide to creating the "Spider Moon"
   cover art, tacked on to the end of this first book.

   And that brings us to the one slight drawback to proceedings,
   because this is, in fact, just Book One in an ongoing story, and
   unlike its to DFC Library predecessors we really are left on a
   cliffhanger this time, with our tale barely begun and even the very
   title itself still unexplained. The next DFC releases are already
   lined up, ready to go, but there's no word of Book Two on the
   horizon just yet, which might stop a few potential readers from
   purchasing this volume. And that would be a shame because
   they really shouldn't hesitate to dip their toes in these
   inviting and mysterious blue seas...
                                                      More: The DFC Library



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