By Christine Marie Vinciquarra
A few weeks ago I took a trip to Barnes and Noble and found myself in the graphic novel aisle. As I skimmed over the shelves I noticed a hardcover purple book a bit smaller than the others. I pulled it from the shelf to see an eerie looking font floating above a picture of a young girl surrounded by a variety of monsters. This was my first encounter with Courtney Crumrin.
Right off the bat, I knew this story was going to be relatable. Now, I'm not saying that we all have monsters sitting on the edge of our beds at night, or am I? In all seriousness we can all think back to being a kid and we can remember the fears that we had when the lights went out or when we heard a noise outside our bedroom door. Ted Naifeh explores these childhood experiences in an Alice in Wonderland type way. Instead of jumping down the rabbit hole with a curious Alice, we are stepping foot into one creepy house with an extremely clever young girl.
We are first introduced to Courtney Crumrin when she moves into her Uncle Aloysius Crumrin's house located in a wealthy suburb. Moving is difficult for any kid, but it is much more difficult for Courtney. She can't sleep at night due to a tiny creature sitting on the edge of her bed, and when she's at school she's harassed by a bully that demands money from her every day after lunch. Even though she has trouble in school being the new kid on campus, she still manages to make herself a friend, Axel. Unfortunately that doesn't last too long because her friend gets eaten by a goblin.
A normal kid would probably alert a parent or school teacher that their friend was eaten by a monster, but not Courtney. You really can't blame her for not going to her parents, since they seem to be in a "la la" land of sorts. Courtney courageously decides to take matters into her own hands making her a very admirable character in my eyes. With the help of one of Uncle Aloysius' books, she learns how to capture a goblin and convince it to do a favor for her. That means trouble for the school bully.
Courtney continues to explore magical spells, and tinkers with her Uncle Aloysius' books. Like most characters, with great power comes great responsibility. Things begin to backfire for her until Uncle Aloysius gives her a hand. I found their slowly developing relationship to be endearing. It's clear that Uncle Aloysius is a complex character with an extremely interesting background. Despite his hard exterior, he has a soft spot for Courtney. He is well aware that her parents are empty-headed, but he knows that she has potential.
As she continues to explore this new way of life she learns that she has to be careful. While Uncle Aloysius has the ability to keep her safe, he might not always be around. Still, it becomes very clear as the volume continues that their relationship will be an important one throughout the series. He is the Obi Wan Kenobi to her Luke Skywalker, or perhaps he is the Obi Wan to her Anakin. It's kind of hard to know what will happen to a young girl that grows up in an environment with monsters and magic on top of bad parents. I assume her ability to use magic will grow, and how she will use it moving forward will be interesting to see. I'm definitely excited to pick up Volume 2 and continue reading!
Courtney Crumrin is written and illustrated by Ted Naifeh and published in several volumes by Oni Press.
Christine Marie Vinciquarra is a freelance writer and aspiring author of young adult literature. She has a deep passion for all things creative, and enjoys blogging & vlogging about the process of writing, creativity, and imagination. She is currently working on a young adult paranormal romance novel. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram @AWritersWay or on her blog writerchristinemarie.wordpress.com.