Water Memory by Mathieu Reynes, Valerie Vernay and Jeremy Melloul (translator)
|Water Memory by Mathieu Reynes, Valerie Vernay and Jeremy Melloul (translator)|
|Category: Graphic Novels|
|Reviewer: John Lloyd|
|Summary: A graphic novel that seems very French, and very grounded in the here and now – but you might not want to let that deceive you...|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 108||Date: September 2017|
|Publisher: Lion Forge|
Despite the title, it seems at first the memories here are much more earthy, for Caroline has brought her young daughter to the place she herself left as a toddler. The move has been caused by a break-up, and it's just the two of them in the family unit, making a fresh start (with the help of a kindly old neighbour) in an old house on a promontory of the Brittany coast. Young Marion soon discovers the clifftops are peppered with strange standing stones, with even stranger figures, initials and dates carved on to them. She also soon works out there is a way to get across a causeway at low tide to the local lighthouse, manned as it is by a gruff, surly old man. But while Caroline's beginning anew starts with a nice local job, things are slowly getting more creepy. Large sea creatures are beaching themselves, the stones' imagery is found in even stranger places - and the lighthousekeeper seems to hold darker secrets. What memory could possibly be in this storm-drenched land?
I loved this graphic novel. The cover artwork is by far as cartoonish as the artwork gets, for one - it is unshowy on the whole, but more than satisfactory, getting character and certainly location down to a T. But what sold the book for me was the perfectly measured speed with which things were shown to us. This is a book where the less you know about it the better, but please be assured the above summary was given due care and attention. And I am aware people may turn to this book, as I for one did, and not have any inkling as to just how fantastical and creepy it can get, and would only dislike it if they weren't forewarned.
That's not to say it ever gets overly fantastical, and the creepy is limited to daylight hours, as opposed to the nightmarish darkness of other books. The plot does hang on a certain key factor that's a little on the unsurprising side, but it's what the creators did with it that counts. They have a wonderful story, perfectly rooted in a strong sense of place, and all the characters are worth your time and empathy. Again, the book may go a little too far for those who really dislike genre reads, but for me it was wonderful to see this realism devoted to such a story, and when you get to certain exceedingly dramatic images late on, to me they felt perfectly plausible, and fully justified their place alongside the mundane, modern coastal village scenes.
The book we get in English is the full two-part work (French serious 'comics' still like to be forced out in two parts once each gets to about the fifty page mark), and a very easy-on-the-eye sketch gallery, complete with some reference photography. Mention is made of a potential sequel, although this is five years old now in its original French, and seems not to have been given a follow-on. But you know what? I seriously doubt it ever needed it. This is just a completely pleasant novel, and it has to be heartily recommended. I did have to take off a smidgen of a star for the overly-eager way with which Marion narrates to herself, as a true classic graphic would show us what we needed to know without her talking to herself so much. But for visual deftness, lightness of touch in conveying the mystery, and for sheer intrigue in such an immediately recognisable and real location, this book can hardly be faulted for leaving memories of its own.
For more great French comic books to be taken seriously, we recommend The Lyrical Comics of Dillies Set: Including Abelard, Bubbles & Gondola, Betty Blues by Renaud Dillies.
You can read more book reviews or buy Water Memory by Mathieu Reynes, Valerie Vernay and Jeremy Melloul (translator) at Amazon.co.uk.
You can read more book reviews or buy Water Memory by Mathieu Reynes, Valerie Vernay and Jeremy Melloul (translator) at Amazon.com.
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