Advance Review: Cemetery Girl Book 1: The Pretenders by Charlaine Harris & Christopher Golden – Graphic Novel Review [Bane of Kings]

Cemetery Girl Vol. 1

Milo, aka “Bane of Kings”, writes an Advance Review of Cemetery Girl Book One, The Pretenders, written by Charlaine Harris and Christopher Golden, the first in the Cemetery Girl trilogy, illustrated by artist Don Kramer and published by Jo Fletcher Books. It’ll hit shelves on January 7.

“Jo Fletcher Books prove that they can do no wrong with their first graphic novel that they’ve published – Charlaine Harris and Christopher Golden help make this book stand out as an incredibly strong first entry to the trilogy. I’ll certainly be sticking around for more.” ~Bane of Kings, The Founding Fields

Charlaine Harris, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Sookie Stackhouse novels and the Harper Connelly Mysteries, and New York Times bestselling author Christopher Golden present an original graphic novel illustrated by acclaimed comic book artist Don Kramer—first in a brand-new trilogy.

She calls herself Calexa Rose Dunhill—names taken from the grim surroundings where she awoke, bruised and bloody, with no memory of who she is, how she got there, or who left her for dead.

She has made the cemetery her home, living in a crypt and avoiding human contact. But Calexa can’t hide from the dead—and because she can see spirits, they can’t hide from her.

Then one night, Calexa spies a group of teenagers vandalizing a grave—and watches in horror as they commit murder. As the victim’s spirit rises from her body, it flows into Calexa, overwhelming her mind with visions and memories not her own.

Now Calexa must make a decision: continue to hide to protect herself—or come forward to bring justice to the sad spirit who has reached out to her for help…

I’m a massive fan of Jo Fletcher Books, and having not read a bad novel by them so far there was no way I was going to pass up the opportunity to explore one of their releases that wasn’t actually a book, but a graphic novel, as long term readers will know that I’m a huge fan of the comics industry and spend a considerable amount of money per week on new comic issues from DC, Marvel and Image. And as Harris and Golden show, I would quite happily add this book to my pull-list were it a series of single issues based on the strength of what I’ve seen in this Volume, with an impressive tale reinforced by some strong artwork help make Cemetery Girl Vol. 1 a must read whether you’re a fan of the graphic novel format or not as this has the appeal to both those who are new to the medium and people who make that trip to their local comic book store every Wednesday.

I practically knew nothing abouCemetery Girl Vol. 1t this book going into it and I’m really glad that I wasn’t disappointed. Harris and Golden have both crafted a compelling book with a strong protagonist in the form of Calexa Rose Dunhill and an interesting story that’s spread out pretty well over the course of the Volume. Whilst it may feel a little thin compared to the average novel Cemetery Girl really works – the Urban Fantasy theme of the novel not giving into the usual cliches such as Paranormal Detectives or sex-crazed vampires, weaving a strong mystery that makes it unique and one of the genre’s standouts. It’s probably one of the best Urban Fantasy graphic novels that I’ve actually read – even if I haven’t read that many as my forays into the comics medium have largely been superhero or science fiction stuff. The protagonist is interesting, rotatable and well developed, which is an accomplishment given the fact that Harris and Golden have less to work with here than they would if this was your average novel. By the end of the pages I was fully behind the character of Calexa and would gladly return to more of her world based on the strength of what I’ve seen here.

The artwork behind Cemetery Girl is pretty awesome and it seems that Don Kramer – who, like Harris and Golden I’m encountering for the first time, can really impress. His panels are detailed and creative, and the end result was dark, moody, visually atmospheric and pretty awesome. If I ever see Kramer’s work on a comic series I’m certainly going to give it more attention than prehaps I would have done otherwise, because he manages to another layer of awesomeness to this Volume.

However, it’s not perfect. When it comes to the dialogue one thing that threw me off was the distinct lack of subtlety in some places – something that I’m sure could have improved Cemetery Girl had this been corrected. And whilst the characterization is strong, the plot does suffer as a result – but these were both minor problems and can easily be brushed aside when enjoying the book on its own. There’s nothing here that will turn you off reading it – and I’m eagerly anticipating The Inheritance. 

So, when this book is released, you’re going to want to pick it up – because Harris and Golden, with Kramer on artistic duties, have weaved a book that should appeal to pretty much every fantasy fan – whether you’ve read a graphic novel or not before. This is going to be a hit for sure.

VERDICT: 4/5

Milo, aka Bane of Kings, is a SFF/Comic reader, and watches a lot of TV. His favourite authors are Neil Gaiman, China Mieville, Jim Butcher, Brandon Sanderson & Iain M. Banks, whilst his favourite TV shows are Battlestar Galactica (2003), Person Of Interest, Firefly, Game of Thrones, & Buffy the Vampire Slayer

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