Shiver Bureau is the kind of speculative fantasy I get a kick out of, with great world building and a commitment to an ethos that permeates the whole of the piece. There's a lot for almost anyone to enjoy: great action, fun one-liners, and a city-sized conspiracy with tons of interesting mini-mysteries along the way. The description mentions it as a hearkening back to cartoons of the early '90s, and I can definitely see some of Ahhh! Real Monsters influencing the tone and art. This is a fun ride for people who have the nostalgia for that time.
I have to say that Walter Ostule's characters truly make this book for me. The plot is good, but there are a bunch of little interstitial bits missing that make the story a little jarring and rough, but the truth of the people he populates his world with make it really shine. The sharp wit and fun dialogue make the matches and pitting of personalities extremely fun to witness, and there's just no character that I don't enjoy. Yes, there are "bad guys," but you enjoy the fops and baddies as much as the good in this volume, and sometimes the line between them is blurred for entertaining effect.
I had mentioned the cartoon feel before. The art style feels like it was lifted directly from a SNICK toon. (Anybody else ever want that big orange couch as badly as I did?) The designs fit the characters perfectly, and again allow them to take the center of this tale. The action sequences are wild and over the top, giving more of an anime feel that adds just the right amount of action badassery that one could want. The hook of the world building works well in the muted and subtle color palette, and he uses scale often as a device to help sell the loneliness or cramped terror of the situation.
This is a thoroughly enjoyable read, and the hard copy also includes the original stories that birthed the characters, their evolution, and the original pages of the entire completed story. It's a great look at the creative process and gives you a further appreciation of the work. You get a lot for a little with this volume, so it's definitely worth checking out.
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