Like many children in Hopeless, Maine, Salamandra has lost her parents. Whether they have died or disappeared is unclear. Cursed or gifted with magic, this lonely little girl finds solace with an imaginary friend who may or may not have her best interests at heart. It isn’t until she befriends, Owen, the son of the local minister, that she learns that true friendship means putting the needs of someone else before yourself.
The artwork captures the tone of the story perfectly. The coloring especially makes you sense the darkness on an almost primordial level. It can be a bit disturbing at times. The story itself falls under the category of slow burn and doesn’t really pick up until the second part of Volume One. The same goes for the character development. You don’t really connect with Salamandra for a while. I also found the same information is repeated frequently which slows the story down, and those pages could have been used more efficiently; however, the sheer creepiness of this world and the desire to find out what is going on in this weird town keep you going.
Volume Two hits the ground running when the people of Hopeless are faced with a new threat: vampires; however, Salamandra has a reason to rejoice. Owen has returned from the outside world. The friendship these two have formed grows deeper as Salamandra tries to discover the source of her magic, but Owen has a secret that he’s keeping from her and his family.
The quality of the art continues in this second volume. I’m a big fan of the two-page splash pages that are included as part of the chapter breaks. The story is tighter and more focused, but does kind of a left turn at chapter seven when a major supporting character is suddenly dead. I’m also a little baffled as to why no one in town is particularly interested in what Owen saw on his journey away from Hopeles,s since supposedly no one can leave and no one returns. Perhaps they have completely bought into the malaise of this dark, little town and no longer care what exists outside their borders.
Nevertheless, this bizarre and very cool story is one that I know a number of people I will love.
Creative Team: Tom and Nimue Brown (writers), Tom Brown (art)
Publisher: Sloth Comics
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