Gregory is new to town. He has no friends, is having difficulty in school with bullies, and he feels that nobody listens to him. He feels displaced and ignored which is a pretty universal feeling among youths. That’s the first dramatic element that - when used well - connects. To heighten that level of displacement, Gregory finds a green, glowing medallion underneath his floorboards and is whisked away to a fantastic mirror world to his own. This is the second dramatic situation that is often explored in fiction and tends to be explored along with a young adult’s upheaval to a new living situation, or bullying, and often the character doing the jumping between two worlds is the savior of said worlds. These are ideas explored in everything from The Neverending Story to Spirited Away. As with most stories, it’s all about how these elements are handled.
While the fantastical world that Gregory jumps into feels like the past, every one of the characters in his normal world - his mother, dad, sister, and aunt - are given mirror versions of themselves in the fantastical world. So, it tracks as less like time travel and more like another reality in which magic exists. The rules to elements like this are left a little muddy, and even though they do allow time for explanation, much like Gregory in the story, I’m still left confused by several of the rules that exist in this magical world.
The gothic cathedral across from his new home is the fantastical centerpiece of both worlds, and the gargoyles and other magical creatures are his introduction and provide the first steps to becoming a wizard! The goal for Gregory hops and jumps all over the place as he sets out to help save the cathedral and all of the magical creatures there while trying to maintain the constant level of punishment being leveled at him for not being attentive to real-world things - like homework and not missing classes. Because of this jumping around, dramatically, the story becomes a little convoluted, but the enjoyment for a young mind would be inescapable, as Gregory is sent from gothic cathedrals to pirate ships, to being invisible and flying through the air.
There are two moments in the story that really connected with me and showed some interesting potential that could be explored in the next two books: Gregory’s confusion into reading people in the real world as being similar to who they might be in the fantasy world and his responding in comically aggressive ways, and also how even he is manipulated by the characters he should trust. These two elements open up some complexity that could give the next two stories a real voice of its own.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. It was non-stop fun with a cinematic eye, and I think young readers will really enjoy the adventure-driven story that our hero finds himself in.
Creative Team: Denis-Pierre Filippi (writer), J. Etienne and Silvio Camboni (artists), Christelle Moulart (color artist) Blasé A. Provitola (translator)
Publisher: Humanoids (BiG)
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