3.5 stars

A dark and gritty victorian fairy fantasy.

I love Delilah Dawson’s writing, so I jumped at the chance to read and review her latest graphic novel. The story is dark and gritty and full of angst. It’s not a light-hearted, warm and fuzzy story, and I’m ok with that.

The story is set in England in the mid-1800’s. Artemesia is a mixed-raced young girl that was brought to England from slave territory by her father. Her step-mother doesn’t like her, and Artemesia is an outcast. Her only respite is her warm and generous step-sister Caroline. The story opens with the two girls mourning the death of their other sister, Elizabeth. Elizabeth was betrothed to a Duke when she died. The marriage would have helped save the family’s estate, which has fallen on hard times. With Elizabeth’s death, Artemesia’s step-mother plans to marry her off to a rich older man.

Upset at the prospect of an arranged marriage, Artemesia is in her room peering into a mirror when she is grabbed and pulled into a faerie world by it’s cruel queen. The Unseelie Queen takes Artemesia’s place in the human world, leaving Artemesia to fend for herself in her land. Artemesia can’t trust anyone, and learns that in order to return to her world, she must kill monsters and absorb their power. Doing so turns her into a monster, which will allow her to return to the human world. Artemesia doesn’t like killing, but quickly becomes adept at it. She also learns how strong and capable she is, thus boosting her confidence. But, will this new sense of confidence serve her well when she returns to the human world?

As I previously stated, the story is dark, violent, and has a lot of killing. The graphics aren’t my favorite, but they match the tone of the book. The story line touches on issues involving racism, misogyny, and low self-esteem. The book ends on a nice cliffhanger that makes you want to see what happens next.

I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.