Publisher: Improper Books
Writer: Benjamin Read
Artist: Chris Wildgoose
Release Date: 11th November, 2015
More and more, I’m finding myself jumping in and reviewing books blind. What I mean by this is that I have no prior knowledge of (or preconceptions about) what I’m about to read, and to be honest, I find it much easier to make my own mind up that way. With Porcelain: Bone China, it was no different, I went in with an open mind and was actually very surprised at what I found.
At its heart, this is a Love Story. Essentially a period drama with a strong female lead, some people may fall into the trap of writing it off as “not my thing”. However, if you’re anything like me, you couldn’t be more wrong. With intelligent writing, strong, relatable characters and a love story that manages to not be contrived or clichéd, it’s one of the most pleasant stories I’ve read in a while.
Following Lady and her Captain in their journey throughout the course of a year (the book is split into seasons, a very nice touch to add the passage of time), we see them grow naturally and debate with “The General” who wants control over Lady’s Porcelain automatons. From there, well, I don’t want to discuss too much more of the story without spoiling it, so all I’ll say is that it’s steeped in Magic, a dark sense humour and a strong emotional core that make the book a must read.
The book itself is gorgeous, with an unconventional panel structure which strays from the more traditional style, lending itself nicely to the Victorian/Steampunk tone of the book. A personal standout for me was the whole beginning to “Summer”; with stunning splash pages and smaller panels being placed round the edges, giving the book a more dynamic flow that a traditional layout wouldn’t have.
Chris Wildgoose deserves a special mention for his work on the art for the book. With a style reminiscent of David Aja and Matt Hollingsworth, with a hint of the artists that have graced “Rat Queens”, the artwork is nothing short of spectacular. With attention being paid to the smallest detail and the strong character design of the Porcelain, it manages to be instantly relatable while still retaining the unfamiliar intrigue of its fantasy setting. When the story does ramp up however, and we start getting a little more violent, that’s when Wildgoose really shines. With a subtle viscerality to his work that manages to make scenes brutal without becoming ‘violence for violence’s sake’, it manages to make these moments all the more apparent and shocking.
Enough technical jargon though, this book is just plan good. It’s different in that the damsel in distress is, more often than not, male. It’s different in that it makes you care about characters you wouldn’t normally care about, and it’s different because it manages to tie in so many genres that shouldn’t necessarily work together, culminating in a final chapter that genuinely surprised me!
Even though it’s the second part of a story, it can most definitely be read on its own, and if there’s going to be a third part, I want to be the first to know!
Porcelain: Bone China will be available at Thought Bubble in Leeds on the 13th and 14th of November, 2015.
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