Monday, February 29, 2016

Courtney Crumrin, Volume One - The Night Things

"Childhood is a much darker world than most adults care to remember." So begins the foreward to the first volume of Ted Naifeh's Courtney Crumrin saga.  And no truer words were spoken.  Looking back, as children, we have a tendency to be afraid of the dark.  Afraid of those strange noises that we hear at night.  Afraid of the unknown and of change.  Afraid of things we can't readily explain.  And, maybe moreso, we are afraid of not being accepted and liked for who we are.  All of these things, and more, are found within the pages of this first volume in the tales of little Courtney Crumrin.

In The Night Things, readers are introduced to little Courtney Crumrin.  She's a junior high student whose parents have lived so far beyond their means, they now have to move to the ritzy neighborhood of Hillsborough and live with Uncle Aloysius (of course, whose uncle he is, no one can really say for sure).  His house is a creepy old mansion, and there are numerous rumors throughout the town of what goes on in that house.

Courtney is definitely a girl after my own heart.  She's unhappy and grumbles, and she's definitely not above using sarcasm at the right moments.  Like, when she and another outcast at her new school run into the local bullies.  "These your friends?" she asks the boy.  "Is this where you all wait for the short bus?"  Needless to say, that first day of school does not go well for Courtney, and her parents are no help (all they can talk about is trying to find a way to weasel into the lives of the rich and famous that live in Hillsborough).

All of that changes, however, the next day, when Courtney and her new-found friend come face-to-face with the bullies again.  Instead of facing off with them, Courtney runs through the woods.  Her friend follows, trying to warn her that no one goes into the woods.  And there is a very real reason for that, which Courtney discovers when she runs into a creature who has just finished eating her friend -- and wants her for dessert!  Thus, a new life begins for Courtney, for when she goes back to Uncle Aloysius' house, she goes searching through his rather 'unique' library and finds just what she needs to not only defeat the goblin, but to use it to end the bullying.

And that's all just in the first chapter of The Night Things.  The remaining three chapters of this first volume are just as entertaining as the first, and while, yes, there are definitely some dark subject matters throughout the tale, there is no visible gore or violence, there are really no adult themes whatseover, and there actually lessons learned (such as Chapter Two, where Courtney tries a glamour spell she finds in one of her uncle's books, only to find sometimes too much of a good thing can be a bad thing!).

I bought the first seven volumes of this series directly from the author at DragonCon last year, honestly, because I absolutely loved the faux-leather bindings and the premise of a young girl (detective, of sorts) living in a supernatural world and house.  Wasn't exactly sure what I would find with them, but I am definitely glad I bought them.  I will readily admit, the art (yes, this is a graphic novel series) is not the style to which I would normally like, the storytelling is so engaging, the art pretty much becomes secondary.  Volume One was well worth the money and the read, and I'm looking forward to delving into the next volume to see where Naifeh takes our little heroine next!

RATING:  8 child-eating goblins out of 10 for providing a scary children's tale that can easily be enjoyed by an adult as well!

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