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Geis: A Matter of Life and Death Hardcover – July 26, 2016
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SELECTED AS ONE OF SLATE'S 10 FAVORITE COMICS OF 2016
This first volume of what promises to be a rousing adventure is gorgeously drawn and full of characters to root forand against.
Slate, Slate's 10 Favorite Comics of 2016
Geis is a genuine surprise, an engrossing fantasy tale that manages the neat trick of seeming both familiar and fresh. [ ] Geis is an extraordinarily thoughtful book that confirms Deacon’s arrival in comics from the world of children’s literature. Even if the presentation still has one foot in that genre, there is enough genuine dread within to keep grown-up readers turning the pages.
The AV Club
This first volume in an anticipated trilogy is a lightning paced, tragic, and gripping start; readers will eagerly await the next outing.
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, Starred Review
Alexis Deacon’s Geis is probably my standout book of the year at the moment.
Readers will give themselves over to the dreamlike, immersive narrative [...]
Deacon’s artwork is beautiful, elegant. I already mentioned I’m a fan, right? But to see him do such finely-detailed work in a graphic novel is remarkable. The palette is dominated by primarily soft, pastel hues, and his lines are both precise and fluid. He paces the book well and sets a mood both mysterious and sinister but always riveting and quite entertaining. I was bummed to see the story end. (For now.)
With stunning artwork and strong control over the delivery of the story, Alexis Deacon has turned in a spectacular opening chapter. It’s sharp and assured and engrossing, and you’ll go crazy waiting for the next installment.
The action is non-stop [...] it is utterly fascinating.
Youth Services Book Reviews
Children’s book illustrator Deacon (Croc and Bird) starts an epic fantasy with his first graphic novel. In an unnamed fantasy world, the Great Chief Matarka has died leaving no heir. The Chief Judge, the High Priest, the Lord Chamberlain, the Grand Wizard, and the young daughter of the Kite Lord are among those summoned to a trial to determine who will rule in her place. But an evil sorceress has taken control of the contest and tricks them all into agreeing to a cursed geis, or taboo, sending them on scattered quests across the land. Tangled forests, deserts, bat-filled caverns, rivers, and medieval towns are rendered in loose brushwork with clumps of gorgeous detail, a meeting of Maurice Sendak and Pieter Bruegel. The early scenes are colored in a palette of soft ochers, pale blues, and peaches. The pages darken to include greens, moody violets, and charcoal blacks as the contest gains deadly urgency, with this first volume ending in a startling cliff-hanger.
The graphics are well done, the story is interesting, and there will be more of this story. Any who survived the first test now has another test coming up...
A suspenseful, exciting story with a little bit of a dark streak.
Stephanie's Book Reviews
From the Back Cover
The chief matriarch is dying. Drawing her last breath, she declares a contest: let fate decide the one worthy to rule. Fifty souls are summoned in the night, fifty souls bound to the same fate. But this is no ordinary trial...And so begins the first task.
This supernatural historical fantasy is the first in an epic trilogy from the award-winning Alexis Deacon.
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Top Customer Reviews
The Great Chief has died and has left behind a contest that will determine who will be her successor. So far, so good. Fifty souls will compete and the winner will become Chief. That sounds like this will mostly be adventure-action. But, no. Or more to the point - not only. There's lots more than that going on, and lots more at stake.
MILD SPOILERS. Our heroine is a young teen girl. She is of no particular account, since most of the fifty competitors are personages of some importance. The competition starts with all fifty being flung out across the Kingdom and tasked with returning by dawn. O.K. But the competition is being overseen by a tricky sorceress, and that's where things get complicated. No more hints or spoilers. We follow several contestants and the tale is sort of like Chaucer meets fantasy quest. We have connivers, nobles, heroes, cowards, merchants, lazy lumps, and so on. They look out for themselves and hobble and impede each other. Our heroine runs across most of them, and holds her own. It's all very ripping with sorcerous undercurrents.
This all works in part because of the interesting choices made in terms of illustration. At first I thought Maxfield Parrish, but that isn't quite right. It isn't that busy or Deco. Think more in terms of newspaper comics from the 30's and 40's. Say, "Little Nemo". The drawing is pencil and ink, (I think), and the coloring is in faded pastel washes. The story is set in a vaguely Medieval time and place, and this mild, faded, old-ish style works very well. That said, the drawing is crisp, the characters are quite expressive, and there is fine attention to detail so that the action, even when wild and stylized, is always clear and comprehensible.
This is understated and elegant stuff. The combination of art and storytelling works, the pacing is good, and there is a certain "classic" feel that underlies the tale. To my mind this is a nice and interesting find worth continuing to follow. (Please note that I received a free advance will-self-destruct-in-x-days Adobe Digital copy of this book in exchange for a candid review. Apart from that I have no connection at all to either the author or the publisher of this book.)
Story: When the chief Matarka dies without naming a replacement, her funeral is attended by all the dignitaries in the city - many hoping to secure the position. But things soon go very awry and a powerful magic is invoked, sending all the contestants into the areas around the City. They have until sundown to return or forever lose the chance to rule. But as they begin to return, several find out there is much more to this 'geis' that they unwittingly signed.
Most intriguing about Geis are the characters: they are a very realistic and grounded mix of conflicted individuals. Whether grappling with parent issues, greed, ambition, or ambivalence, they are all quite intriguing. Yet author Deacon keeps them from being too heavy or unlikable by remaining firmly within a cartoon fantasy milieu.
The artwork serves the story in a distinct way - contrasting a full page single panel with a heavily divided partner page (often 14+ panels on one page). The color palette is quite monochromatic and line drawing loose, nebulous, busy but not detailed. The looseness of the drawing style did make it difficult to distinguish characters at times and I relied heavily on dialogue in order to not get lost.
In all, I found the story intriguing but strangely unsatisfying as well. The tale is more about the people than the plot - and the large cast of characters could have used more than the book's 49 pages to establish the arc better. Reviewed from an advance reader copy provided by the publi
The world is an interesting, unusual fantasy setting, with a young girl as the primary protagonist. This alone would be refreshing, but the concepts and characters are executed well, drawing one into the material. As details are divulged, the mind races with extrapolations about the rest of the world; this is a hallmark of a good story.
The artwork was fascinating. It is sketchy with a mid-value but saturated palette with effective coloring that demarcates action. Sometimes loose artwork like this sacrifices proportion, structure, or geometry. However, every line is well constructed, and the characters and environments are fluid, readable, evocative, and believable.
It's a great book and I can't wait for the second.
The story itself reminded me of reading Sandman with its cast of characters both mysterious and mundane, leaving me wondering why they are there and what they will do -- only some of which is explained, of course. I also found similarity in the threads of darkness throughout, and I felt they were never gratuitous but rather an important part of the mosaic. For the very reasonable price (I paid about 13 dollars US) I received a beautiful hardcover and a feast for you imagination, lasting me about an hour plus time spent brooding the story and pining for the sequel.