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The Phoenix Requiem. If you're ever itching for a new graphic novel, there's an entire one waiting to be read for free right here.
Sarah Ellerton is both a fanastic writer and artist and all her work is brilliant (and leaves you wanting more by the end), so this isn't a formative experience, the art and writing is good and complete from the start and it's very clear that there was a plan right from the beginning. It amazes me that someone can write something so good and well paced on what is almost effectively a first draft.
A Victorian era fantasy romance. A young man is found shot in the woods near a little town. As he's being nursed back to health people start dying of a mysterious plague and there's talk of spirits... It works as a fantasy drama, there's a lot of mystery and the stakes are constantly raised as the plague continues and the situation degenerates. It feels like everyone is doing their best to deal with the situation as they can and yet every time they find a solution there's a likewise reasonable escalation until an out and out climax that had me tense despite it being my second/third run through. The world feels very real and the art is perfect for bringing it to life. It implies time skips in a sensible way so even when read as a whole instead of in short updates, everything feels timed and natural. Momentous acts aren't being compacted into a day.
And it works a romance and a character drama because every character is very human and real, there are no bad guys, just lots of people with different motivation and information. It reminds me a lot of Pride And Prejudice, the A couple of charming and admirable people yet with very clear flaws and the love isn't just an infatuation but each others a real chance to help overcome the others weaknesses, looking back the protagonists are very similar people to Miss Bennet and Mr Darcy.
There's a touch of a love triangle that on first reading I didn't like, nor admire the resolution, but now I see that it was concluded fairly and perfectly. It was less a love triangle and more a group of people starting off in the wrong places and slowly untangling themselves for very natural reasons.
In the end it's greatest flaw was that it ended. I wanted more, but where would I have been content to stop?
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