Let's start with the obvious: Zainab Ahktar's Shortbox's first foray into the book market (Rosemary Valero-O'Connell's Don't Go Without Me) is a success.
A Kickstarted collection, Don't Go Without Me consists of three stories, each roughly 30 pages. Of the three, only the middle one (2017's 'What Is Left') is previously released. The first one, called 'Don't Go Without Me', is the best of the bunch. A woman loses her bearings in a fantasy world.
I'm a mark for Valero-O'Connell, and Don't Go Without Me (the story) feels lush and alive. Valero-O'Connell quickly and comprehensively develops a fantasy world dissimilar to our own without feeling like she's slowing down to do so. She uses a light peach as the major color in Don't Go Without Me, and it feels correct.
This is all to say look, I use the word feels because Valero-O'Connell's good and her choices are effective in my opinion. When Valero-O'Connell draws curly hair, it looks resplendent.
'Con Temor, Con Ternura' is the weakest of the three, mostly because while it's got some nice set pieces, it's a monologue. In looking for criticism of Don't Go Without Me (the collection), there's not a lot of action in it, but at no point during reading it did I feel that as a problem. Admittedly, there's a couple nice explosions in 'What Is Left'.
Overall though? Don't Go Without Me is one of my favorite books released in 2020. I'm jealous of my partner, who saved up the money to buy a physical copy, because the embossing and foil on the cover's sweet, and the digital version that I use to review Don't Go Without Me necessarily can't include that. If you can find a physical copy (which Shortbox hopes you'll be able to, as it was the point of the Kickstarter), take a moment and enjoy the nice touch.
Two lovers get stranded on a night out in a parallel dimension.
A ship that runs on memories malfunctions in the dead of space.
A giant prophesied to wake from its centuries-long slumber beneath the sea.
Don't Go Without Me presents a triptych of stories on love, loss, and connection from master comics storyteller Rosemary Valero-O'Connell.