Title: Alabaster Shadows | Series: Alabaster Shadows 1 | Author: Matt Gardner | Illustrator: Rashad Doucet | Publisher: Oni Press | Pub. Date: 2015-12-9 | Pages: 184 | Genre: Horror Fantasy | Language: English | Triggers: None | Rating: 5 out of 5 | Source: Comixology Unlimited
Carter Normandy knows there’s something weird about the neighborhood he and his family move into. Maybe it’s the physics-defying leak in the basement, or the way all the adults seem to look down on kids like they’re scum. With the help of his new friends, Carter discovers a whole other world alongside his seemingly normal community-a world filled with terrifying monsters. A world the adults of the community already know all about. Now it’s up to Carter and his friends to keep these monsters from crossing over into our world, or face the dire consequences!
A gorgeously illustrated mystery perfect for fans of Gravity Falls with just a hint of Lovecraftian horror.
Alabaster Shadows is one of the few kids’ comics on Comixology Unlimited. It is perfectly suited for a middle grade audience, though even younger kids will probably get a kick out of looking at it. (They may just not understand the story line.)
I love the bright and warm color palate used in Alabaster Shadows. It draws the eyes, and makes each panel into a pleasing visual experience. The illustrations are great as well. The illustrator does a great job of conveying the character’s emotions without a single word needing to be said. Though when words are said, they do match up perfectly. I found myself grinning every time the character Polly was on the page, perhaps because she reminds me (in spirit) of my own daughter.
Alabaster Shadows features a diverse family in a non-diverse setting. The mother is African American, the father Asian. The houses in their neighborhood all look the same. The rest of the people all appear to be white. So, it isn’t really a surprise that the Normandy family is an obvious catalyst for change.
It does follow some typical middle-grade tropes, such as the parents not really being part of the story. (They are, at least, both present, though!) Its very much pesky kids against evil adults. The dialogue, pace, and action are perfect. I love that the kids use their heads consistently.
There are some positive reinforcements mentioned in Alabaster Shadows as well. As when one adult tells Polly early on that “…you don’t need to wait to grow up to be important.” And showing that stuff like ‘throws like a girl’ isn’t something that should be said by showing that a girl can really throw.
There is a Lovecraftian bent to the story, but nothing scary. At the most, all that the reader sees is some people staring off into space mumbling weird words. There are a few ‘monsters’ but considering how brightly colored they are, they’re not scary at all. Even Polly goes ballistic over how ‘cute’ something is.
Alabaster Shadows would be a great way to introduce middle-graders to the ‘weird fiction’ and horror of Lovecraft. It’s got a story line which will keep young (or older minds) engaged. The characters are likable ‘normal’ ones (no trace of super powers here!), and range from the scaredy-cat, to the confident and calm, to the ‘weird’ one, so some sort of character there for every one.
I love Alabaster Shadows. It’s a gorgeous book with a good storyline. I would love to have a hard copy of this one. Definitely recommend this.
Lilyn G is the founder of Sci-Fi & Scary, and leader of the Kali Krew. She does book and film reviews for both genres the site focuses on. Her tastes run towards creature features, hard science fiction, and lots and lots of action. She also has a soft spot for middle-grade fiction that rears its head frequently.
Though no longer involved with Ladies of Horror Fiction due to other responsibilities and a too-full plate, she was one of the original 4 co-founders.
Feel free to chat her up on Twitter as long as you aren’t hitting her up to review your book.