written by Mathieu Mariolle
illustrated by Aurore
Remember when you were a kid and you had that one book you loved to read over and over, or that one movie you would act along with all the time? Pixie by Mathieu Mariolle and Aurore has the potential to be that graphic novel for some child. It's the kind of book that one will adore as a kid, then grow up to reread and enjoy all the same because it's not dumbed down. It can easily be compared to classic Jim Henson films that ’80s children still cherish to this day.
Take a moment to come out of your David Bowie as Jareth fantasy and read the rest of the review. You can go back to it when you're finished.
Ael is the young prince of Daimoon. Sheltered and bored out of his mind, Ael enjoys the bedtime fairy tales his tutor tells him before casting a spell and sending him off to sleep. Little does Ael know that the spell prevents him from dreaming. Pixie is a petty thief who sneaks into Prince Ael's room to steal his bracelet. When the darn thing won't come off, he decides to kidnap Ael, just temporarily, instead of cutting off the boy's hand.
Much to Pixie's surprise, Ael is very happy to be kidnapped and enjoys the prospect of adventure. When the pair get into a tight spot and fall over a cliff, Ael is knocked unconscious and starts to dream. His dream takes the pair to the land of Somnambula, a parallel world. There they meet the beautiful warrior Elvynn and the werebeast Balor. Ael discovers that by dreaming, he is able to make things happen, including traveling between the four planes of the parallel worlds.
This wouldn't be an epic fantasy without the bad guys. The city of Earis excels in technology, an ideology that caused a rift in its people and causes the departure of the nature-loving followers of Elazul. Led by the power hungry Ankou, Earis' military is building machines with potentially devastating powers. Maddened by his own paranoia, Ankou is sure that spies are all around him and tosses aside any qualms about murder to justify his convictions.
Elvynn hopes that Ael's power can be controlled with help the followers of Elazul, but they find Ael to be a threat. Instead, they send him to a hidden sacred land where the pixies reside. It's there that Pixie finds that he just might have found his home.
The characters in Pixie feel a bit typical at first, but there is potential to grow. Ael is the bored prince who wants adventure and doesn't shut up about it. Elvynn's name alone is clichéd, but then again, who doesn't like a chick with a big sword? No, she's not wearing much in the way of clothing, but it's not at all trashy or provocative. Pixie himself is the reluctant-but-not-evil rogue who gets caught in the middle. Just imagine him speaking with an Irish accent and it will make the experience all the more pleasant.
The artwork is solid and delightfully colorful. There's a definite manga influence, but the art very much suits the story and demographic. It never skimps on the cells and offers a very imaginative and detailed stylization. The story too has a clear Japanese influence with the whole “getting sucked into a fantasy land” concept, plus the obligatory hot springs scene. Yes, it really is obligatory. Read enough manga and you'll see.
In volume one, quite a bit of plot is established, but it's still very much an introduction to all the characters and basic ideas. Much like a long fantasy, it may still be a while before we find out exactly what the overarching plot will consist of since the two opposing forces haven't even met yet. Otherwise, the pacing is excellent. There are lots of small plot twists that are set up, then explained at the appropriate time. The story is a very enjoyable fantasy that kids would love, but it never insists on keeping a G-rating. There is some violence and blood, but it's far from gratuitous and still maintains its age appropriateness. It's not at all dumbed down or diluted, which is what makes it appealing to an older or maturing audience.
Okay, go back to your David Bowie fantasies now.-- Courtney Kraft