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Salem Brownstone: All Along the Watchtowers Library Binding – July 13, 2010
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From School Library Journal
Grade 8 Up A telegram arrives, informing Salem Brownstone of the death of the father he never knew. The loss leaves him holding the key to his father's mansion and its strange contents. There he meets a mysterious contortionist in possession of a scrying ball and, as Jedediah Brownstone forewarned his friends, the deathly Shadow Boys have come for it. Like Alice going down the rabbit hole, Salem descends into Dr. Kinoshita's Circus of Unearthly Delights, and the eerie adventures take off from there. Singh's artwork in this oversize book is similar to Edward Gorey's surrealistic pen-and-ink illustrations. It lends itself perfectly to Dunning's dark tale. Fans of H. P. Lovecraft, Lewis Carroll, and Edgar Allan Poe will enjoy this eerie graphic novel. Lisa Gieskes, CA Johnson Preparatory Academy, Columbia, SC
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*Starred Review* Bound in purple cloth, with oversize pages filled with hallucinatory black-and-white visuals, this graphic novel immediately looks and feels unlike anything else out there. Astonishingly the work of two first-time creators, this is a book that both takes full advantage of its form and offers something unique in the current graphic-novel market: a deep strangeness that pervades every panel, every figure, and even every object within. Although Dunning’s humorously dry writing and the bizarrely calm affect of an array of enjoyable characters help create the creepy tone, Singh’s flowing, surreal perspectives and vaguely Ditko-esque landscapes of alternate planes are what will cast readers into an unfamiliar and occasionally uncomfortable world. Even amid the constant barrage of obtuse and off-kilter imaginings, there are indelible images that stand out: tortured smoke haunting the air over a mansion; intertwined souls trapped within the insectoid eye of a fly. What’s it about? Well, the plot concerns Salem’s inheritance of a magic orb from his deceased father, after which he is abetted by the freakish denizens of Dr. Kinoshita’s Circus and opposed by the Seven Dark Elders of Midnight City. But what it’s really about is the thrill of the genuinely weird. Grades 9-12. --Jesse Karp
Top customer reviews
It's not an average good-for-all comic book, but definitely a fine and delicious gem for connaisseurs.
This is a beautiful book. Oversized like a large picture book with decorated cloth covered boards, it feels like a treasure in your hands. Upon opening the book, the story grips you right away as if something by Poe. Then turn the page where the artwork starts and immediately Gory comes to mind and the further one gets into the story with the mixture of art and text their is a very strong Tim Burton vibe going and I actually started imaging the story being filmed with Johnny Depp as Salem Brownstone. The artwork is truly masterful. Each frame is so detailed, this book could take many readings and each reading would reveal something you had missed the previous times through. How do I describe the art? Outlandish, eerie, macabre, bizarre and just outright fiendishly freakish (in a good way!).
Salem Brownstone, a grown man, who hasn't seen his father since he was six receives a telegram that his father has died and left him his mansion and the contents and he must come claim it ASAP that evening at 9pm. Upon arrival Salem finds an old creepy Victorian house and notices a sign announcing a circus nearby. Once inside he discovers his father was a magician and dons the cape, when he hears a noise. As he investigates he happens upon Cassandra Contortionist who has been waiting for him. She has a scrying orb that belonged to his father that she must pass on to him. She takes him down to the circus for further explanation and it is here he learns that he must take over his father's role in keeping the world safe from the evil creatures of another dimension.
This is a macabre story and certainly not going to be for everyone but if you like Poe or Lovecraft then this will be along your tastes. The atmosphere is very dark and heavy, the story is very creepy and when you think you've seen it all something even creepier happens. I was engrossed with the story and the whole book itself. A wonderful Hallowe'en read. From the ending, there are hints that Salem may appear in a sequel.