*Finder 4: Talisman — Recommended

I’ve been putting off discussing this installment of Finder because of its power. All of McNeil’s graphic novels are astoundingly wonderful, but this one in particular hits on a very meaningful subject. Let me quote from its back cover:

Talisman is about a book. The book that’s never there when you wake up, no matter how hard you try to take it with you. The book you steal when you’re too young to understand it’s not the only copy in the world…. Talisman is about hunger and magic.

Every serious reader knows what it means to love a book. It’s a deep adoration, and it’s a tricky subject to tackle. Where others couldn’t have lived up to its needs, McNeil handles it beautifully.

Finder: Talisman cover
Finder: Talisman
Buy this book

Marcie is the youngest of Emma’s daughters, as previously seen in Sin-Eater. Once, when Jaeger returned to visit the family, he brought her the gift of a real, bound book — an unusual sight in their technology-driven society. He read to her and inspired her to learn to read on her own. (Like many kids, she thinks most of the people around her can’t read it right, the way she wants it read.)

Marcie needs her book to take her away from her insane, abusive father and a mother escaping into work. And then a tragedy occurs, and as a result, Marcie grows up to be a writer. She dreams about the library where every book exists. She feels alone, different from the others, and she struggles hard with not being able to get the words from her mind on the page in a way that she can share with others. I feel the same way when I try to describe the artistry on display here.

This volume alludes to a number of other imaginative classics: Alice in Wonderland and C.S. Lewis, of course, but also more recent books, like The Neverending Story and Masquerade. The copious author’s notes make these references clear, if the reader didn’t already recognize them.

McNeil’s world is perfect, thickly populated and thought-out in detail. Her characters’ expressions and attitudes demonstrate a deep knowledge of human behavior, and her art shows the reader just what they need to know. It rewards detailed study, even as you want to move quickly to find out what happens next. She’s created a work worthy to be ranked with those she praises and loves.

Any reader needs to experience this graphic novel. It’s the best exploration of the love of books and the struggle of writing and the need for imagination and the lovefear of creation that I’ve seen.

McNeil was nominated for the following Eisner Awards:

  • 2002, Best Serialized Story (“Talisman”, Finder #19-21)
  • 2002, Best Continuing Series (Finder)
  • 2002, Best Writer/Artist
  • 2001, Best Single Issue (“Talisman”, Finder #19)

Read the first chapter at the Lightspeed Press website. The previous volume in the series was King of the Cats.

12 Responses to “*Finder 4: Talisman — Recommended”

  1. svetlana Says:

    This book is amazing in ways words can’t describe. After I read it I had this sort of a drunk/euphoric feeling and an intense desire to shake Carla by the collar and ask WHERE THE HELL IS THE REST. The story is so perfectly complete within itself, but world and the characters are so rich, I keep wanting to sink my hands into the story and see all the stuff that WASN’T on the page, the things inbetween the panels and the reflections of adjacent stories. Argh!! *stalks Carla’s website for updates on current Finder book*

  2. Amy Says:

    Oh man, Talisman and Dream Sequence are really really special books to me. They inspire me every time I read them and take me to that special place that Carla Speed McNeil has spent so much time creating. I’m so glad to see you reviewing it with so much respect!

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