I picked this up at the library as I was perusing through graphic novels appropriate for kids. This one looked neat, had great artwork, and didn't seem too complicated for a young child. We ended up not reading it together because it got a bit too scary for my son, but I read it on my own and really enjoyed it!
Emily and Navin are moving into their mother's old childhood house; after the death of their father in a car accident their mother can't afford their old house and they are being forced to move. In this house Emily finds a mysterious Amulet. There are also dark things in this house and Emily, Navin, and their mom accidentally find themselves thrust into a paralell world. When their mother is captured by a monster it is up to Emily and Navin to save her; the Amulet proves itself to be a great tool...but it also seems to have motives of its own.
I tried reading this graphic novel with my four year old son and he was enchanted by the drawings and the story; unfortunately with parents getting hurt/killed and monsters creeping through dark house it just got too scary for him. He is very into some of the Leap Frog Tag books that are graphic novels and so I thought this would be a neat book for him; but I would recommend this to kids in the 7 or older age range. It's just a bit too scary for younger kids and some of the concepts underlying the story flew right over my son's head.
The art in this graphic novel is well done; the characters are a bit sketchier than I am used to seeing but the color is done really well and the environments are beautiful. The story is definitely of the dark fantasy variety. You have creepy houses, mysterious monsters, and kids fighting to survive.
I enjoyed the fantasy and adventure elements; kids journeying to another world and questing to save their mother. I also enjoyed the added complexity of the Amulet and how it seemed to have a personality of its own. Emily and Nevin are great characters; they each have their own strengths and bring good things to the story. Emily has a lot of adolescent issues she is working through; she feels displaced and abandoned because of the move and her father dying. The story gets increasingly complex and has enough subtle undertones to keep me interested as an adult. The pace was wonderful, there were no slow parts here.
This book ties up the main story but starts up another story that will continue on in the next book. I thought the drawing of the characters could have been a bit better but was very impressed by the backgrounds. There are some creative ideas here and some we have seen before.
Overall I really enjoyed this graphic novel. I will definitely be reading the next one. I think this would be appropriate for ages 7 and up; it is a bit too scary for younger kids. Reading this book has made me take a look at other of Kibuishi's works; I would like to read his Flight series at some point too. Fans of adventure and fantasy will find a lot here to love. This book had a dark fairy tale quality to it that keeps the reader engaged and wondering.