The Dire Days of Willowweep Manor
Haley loves gothic romance. She only wants to read stories such as Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre. In The Dire Days of Willowweep Manor, after she rescues a man from the river on a dark and rainy night, she finds herself in the storybook setting she’s always dreamed of. This graphic novel is written by Shaenon K. Garrity and illustrated by Christopher Baldwin.
(I don’t personally care for those types of stories at all, but I could identify with Haley’s deep love of a genre. Revealing her obsession with the books through a tired teacher telling her she has to pick a different topic for an essay was amusingly believable.)
Haley awakens in a manor, complete with foreboding housekeeper, ghost, and three brothers. Laurence, Montague, and Cuthbert are gloomy, grumpy, and ridiculously enthusiastic, respectively. Exploring, she finds all kinds of expected conventions: a heath, a hermitage, a stark coastline for brooding. But then she discovers where she really is. The manor is the centerpiece of a pocket universe responsible for preventing the spread of evil and destruction of her home world.
That’s a lot. But it’s great fun, with plenty of adventure and new discoveries every few pages. Haley trying to figure out what her powers are, as the requisite Maiden, is amusing. “I’m not sure what else I can do. Pine? Get the vapors? Tutor unsettling children?” The cartoonish caricatures are exaggeratedly expressive. That helps distinguish the three brothers as well as giving the evil an amusing disguise.
This is the teen girl equivalent of the story where the boy who’s good at video games and not much else is selected to pilot a spaceship to save the universe. Or maybe the book version of the movie where someone defeats the serial killer by knowing all the slasher movie clichés. Haley’s love instead is classic literature, and it’s her brains and determination that save the day.
(The publisher provided a review copy. Review originally posted at Good Comics for Kids.)