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A Reader of Fictions: The Bad Beginning - Thomas Newman (from Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events)

A Reader of Fictions

Book Reviews for Just About Every Kind of Book

Monday, April 16, 2012

The Bad Beginning - Thomas Newman (from Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events)

Courtney Crumrin and the Night Things
Courtney Crumrin, Volume 1

Author: Ted Naifeh
Pages: 128
Publisher: Oni Press via NetGalley

Description from Goodreads:
Presenting the initial Courtney Crumrin miniseries in a new digest-sized format. Courtney's parents have dragged her out to a high-to-do suburb to live with her creepy Great Uncle Aloysius in his spooky old house. She's not only the new kid in school, but she also discovers strange things lurking under her bed.

First Sentence: "'Careful now.'"

Review:
The Courtney Crumrin series reminds me a lot of Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events. Of course, Courtney's an only child and her parents are still alive, only they're completely useless, which is why they move in with the creepy as hell old uncle. Another difference, too, is that the uncle, so far at least, does not really appear to be evil. Everyone else in the series sure does though. Oh yeah, and there are monsters, but some of them are nice.

You may be thinking 'hey! that really doesn't sound too much like the Lemony Snicket books,' which would be somewhat justified based on that description. However, there's something about the tone and even the illustrations that called it to mind constantly. From the creepy tower Uncle Aloysius lives in to the dark humor, I would definitely recommend this to fans of that series.

While I was definitely entertained by the story, I wasn't a fan of the artwork. Well, I mean, the buildings and stuff were fine, but the people. They just were not working for me. They all look like something out of a dream, perhaps one inspired by The Scream. Here's a sample image, just so you know what's I'm talking about.


Here's what bothers me about this. Let's start with Courtney, the girl in the middle, who's probably the most normal looking character in the series.  She actually doesn't inspire nightmares and is, in some scenes, almost cute looking, in a moppet sort of way. However, she doesn't have a nose, not just in this picture, but in any of them. Where did it go? Then on the left, you have a boy (I can only tell the gender by the uniform), we have a guy with empty, soulless eyes. Many of the characters have eyes like that, like she attends a school of zombies or brainwashed kids. On the right is a guy, who is supposed to be Mr. Hottie-Face, and he does somewhat resemble Spike from Buffy, but he also looks like an alien or a snake. I mean, his ears...they are pointy, even more so in some other images. I expect that if he opened his mouth, he would have sharp teeth with which he will chomp on your soul, which is probably what happened to the kid on the left.

All of that said, the art totally fits the story, since it does have a vague nightmarish quality to it, and real monsters do abound. However, it just seems odd that the monsters are so much less intimidating than the humans, which may in fact be the point. Actually, that's a message I can get behind, since so many people suck.

This was fun in a very creepy way. This appeals to the kind of people amused by children getting eaten or babies being replaced with a changeling. If you like Neil Gaiman's work for children, especially Coraline, you may want to give Courtney Crumrin a try. I think I'll be checking out volume two. Who knows, we might even find out what monster took Courtney's nose!

Rating: 4/5

Favorite Quote: "Courtney didn't like babies at the best of times. As far as she was concerned, anything that existed solely to emit drool, vomit, ghastly odors and loud, annoying screams was more trouble than it was worth."

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3 Comments:

Blogger Owl In A Cloak said...

I am so excited for this!

April 17, 2012 at 6:46 AM  
Blogger Steena said...

Speaking of dead children being humorous, Edward Gorey's Gashlycrumb Tinies are a hoot and a half - http://tinyurl.com/6pmo6lz

April 18, 2012 at 8:15 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

Holy creepy train, Batman! I approve of this picture book. Have you read BAAAA? It's the best.

April 18, 2012 at 8:52 PM  

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