- Posted by Johanna on February 4, 2006 at 7:45 pm
- Category: Graphic Novel Reviews
- CREDITS: written by Jai Sen; illustrated by Rizky Wasisto Edi
- PUBLISHER: Shoto Press; $4.59 US
Before even starting Garlands of Moonlight, I knew I was going to enjoy reading this Xeric-winning book. It’s roughly the size and proportions of a large postcard, and it’s printed in black, white, and silver, giving the pages a luminous quality ideally suited to the subject matter.
The story is hard to sum up briefly, because it touches on so many themes. A wise woman and midwife discovers a vampiric demon attacking her Indonesian village. A schoolteacher preaches revolution against the Dutch exploiters who are threatening to take over. Men are disturbed by what happens when women give birth. Tradition and change conflict, as do superstition and learning.
Hints and portents abound. Fundamentally, it’s a horror story, but one that’s all the more frightening for not being sure exactly what happened and why. As soon as I finished the book, I starting rereading it, and I found so much more to think about.
The figures are manga-influenced, but what struck me most was how strong a sense of place was established, yet the book feels timeless. It’s a very rich world the two creators have built, based on Indonesian folktales.
Amazingly, this is the first graphic novel for both writer and artist. Given the level of skill and quality demonstrated here, I never would have guessed that. Garlands of Moonlight is a fascinating read and an astoundingly beautiful book.