From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. This first on-paper collection of a comic that's won several Web Cartoonists' Choice Awards reads like a British boarding school version of Lost
, in which each semiexplanation of one mystery leads to a new, larger one. The titular school looks more like a vast modern factory, while across the adjacent, forbidding Annan Waters is Gillitie Wood, home of fairies, gods, ghosts and sentient shadows. In her first school year, Antinomy Carver discovers that the two realms aren't absolutely separate; her little stuffed doggie, for example, soon houses a grouchy but rather protective demon, while the robot she builds out of spare parts lying around the school crosses the Water and comes back with a living wooden arm. Grownups are of little help to the young protagonists, but Antinomy faces difficulties with courage and self-possessed good manners. She and her friend Kat respond appropriately to each fresh bit of weirdness, sometimes taking part in sci-fi space adventures, sometimes coping with the loss of a friend who's changing into a bird. Siddell's stylized manga-like art suggests energy struggling against determined restraint. The result is uncanny, perplexing and oddly compelling. (Dec.)
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*Starred Review* The first 14 chapters of Siddell’s popular webcomic are collected here in an alluring hardcover. The premise, best described as science-fantasy, involves a young girl named Antimony plopped into a strange boarding-school/industrial-complex, which, like the reader, she knows nothing about. Discrete chapters (some of which fast-forward the general story arc while others flit off on whimsical digressions) all feature varying levels of jaw-dropping peculiarity, devilish bursts of humor, and sublime creativity that lurk at the ends of the school’s myriad corridors. The darkly hued artwork is deceptively simplistic and displays a flair for the crucial details of setting and atmosphere; Siddell’s knack for setting enigmatic scenes that take pages to become clear lifts the experience from merely intriguing to simply spellbinding. Yes, there are dull echoes of most boarding-school fantasy (including that Potter one), plumbing the depths of abandonment, burgeoning friendship, and ultimate belonging, and dedicated readers can follow along online for free; but Siddell’s one-man show of weirdly inventive one-upmanship is too good to pass up. That it’s both appropriate and appealing for a wide age range, boys and girls, seals the deal. Oh, and Neil Gaiman’s a huge fan. There’s no reason to think his massive audience wouldn’t also be. Grades 6-12. --Ian Chipman