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Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Maidenstone 1. Chris Robertson (Writer), Scott Beveridge (Art), Andrew Kelly (Cover), LA Baguette Noir Press 2015

An engaging and very enjoyable opening chapter that manages to set up the story very effectively. Lucy Maitland's father has died under mysterious circumstances and the grief has fractured her faily. Her mother does not want to talk about what she is feeling or thinking and her brother, Jamie, is talking far too much about it. Lucy is caught in the middle trying to keep everyone together, including herself. The town where she lives is sharply divided also, the families that have been in the area for generations and families who came for work on the oil rigs off shore. An explosive confrontation after her father's wake leads to Lucy meeting Dylan who is definitely more than he seems.
A set up is a difficult task to manage, a lot of information has to be presented in a short space of time, the cast introduced, the context established and the plot mechanics set in motion all without confusing or drowning the reader. Chris Robertson has managed the process with deft skill and care, the pacing of the set up is wonderful. He takes enough time to introduce Lucy, her family and her town so that when the action arrives it is both natural and feels inevitable. Lucy is a great lead character, she has a clear and distinctive voice, she is someone and she manages to contain all of the forces pulling at her until releasing them makes her vulnerable to kindness. The rest of the cast are full of life and action, they push and shove to get the readers attention and make the context fill with life and vigor.
Scott Beveridge's art is striking, this is Lucy's story told directly by a teenage girl and the art feels like it was drawn directly by Lucy. The way she sees herself when she is in school, making a dress, out with her mother, playing a computer game with her brother. always the same person but also very different. The art makes the story very personal, it is not events happening to someone else, this is not what happened, this is what it felt like was happening. This is really effective as the final panels show the trouble ahead and the reader is not simply observing a character heading for trouble. Lucy has taken a literal and metaphorical beating and that is barely the start, and the reader is pulled right in.
Maidenstone is a great start, the stakes have been raised very nicely and the the promise of the story is substantial.
Chief Wizard Note: This is a review copy very kindly send by  Chris Robertson, for more details on how to get a copy, and you should treat yourself to one, you can check here, www.baguettenoirpress.co.uk, or here www.facebook.com/baguettenoirpress.

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