Review – The Rabbit (Avery Hill Publishing)

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Publisher: Avery Hill Publishing
Written by: Rachael Smith
Art by: Rachael Smith
Release Date: September 2015

Eleanor and Kathy are sisters, Kathy being the youngest. Typically, Eleanor is moody, a bit of a bully and carries a full-on teenage attitude. Kathy is a bit of a wet blanket. So far, so normal. Except these sisters are on a journey, staying in a tent and ignoring calls from their Dad. As the comic opens, they haven’t travelled too far as they meet a group of boys from school, and the setting is made clear by the use of words like “mardy” and “sodding”.

Katy rescues a teeny rabbit, which then grows into a huge, talking rabbit. A happy one called Craig, not Donnie Darko’s rabbit. Yet. Craig wants food, all their food. Craig wants carried. Katy hurt his leg when she rescued him. Craig wants chocolate. Craig wants a carriage. The girls are clearly on the run and don’t have stuff to spare, but those eyes…

Craig promises them that he’ll show them the way to the cave. But he gets fatter and fatter. He wears more and more of their clothes. His cave turns out to be a warren and Craig turns monstrous, at this point I was thinking Craig is a fricking Rabbit Pennywise. What the hell are these girls running away from that this hideous rabbit is a better option?!

As things continue to escalate rapidly, the pair end up learning a valuable lesson. Accepting their dad’s call may be an important task. The message here – the line between childhood innocence and grown-up responsibility- is established beautifully, using metaphor and powerful notes of horror to make the potentially complex themes easily accessible to all.

Smith’s artwork is fairly loose and cartoony, though noticeably more ‘grown up’ than her previous work on the likes of Ask Flimsy. It’s also very bright and colourful, the stuff of the girls’ fantasy play rather than the grotesques they meet in the warren. However, the style manages to keep this book personal and personable. Teens will definitely enjoy it.

Smith dedicates this book to her dad, and it easy to see that it is both an apology and an explanation to him. It’s also a cautionary tale. She quotes Alice in Wonderland throughout, but I can’t help feel that Dorothy’s lesson is more valuable here; there truly is no place like home.

You can purchase The Rabbit from the Avery Hill Publishing website.

HAZHAVThe Writer of this piece was: Hazel Hay
You can follow Hazel on Twitter

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