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Sunday, May 09, 2010

The Spider Moon

Originally featured in The DFC, the first hardcover collection of Kate Brown's The Spider Moon introduces us to Bekka, a young girl living in a seemingly idyllic, South Sea-like island community. An ancient prophecy that spoke of their world being crushed by the falling skies now seems imminent, and Bekka is eager to become a diver, to help gather spine-fish that will provide fuel to power a mysterious floating island-ship that will allow everyone to escape. However, the council members of Bekka's community are arrested by the neighbouring Bird Folk, following claims from the oil refineries that they are refusing to provide the spine-fish needed. Captured during a failed rescue attempt, Bekka befriends the prince of the Bird Folk, only to find herself caught up in a conspiracy that could place her entire world in jeopardy.
Beautifully drawn and coloured, The Spider Moon reflects both European and Japanese comic style influences, with nods to Hayao Miyazaki's own eco-tales, Nausicaa and Laputa. Kate Brown has created a finely detailed world, down to individual communities with their own unique cultures and mythologies, and there is a very realistic sense of ordinary people doing their best to get on with their everyday lives, while being aware of the impending doom that threatens them. Bekka herself is an engaging heroine who will appeal to younger readers, balancing her fear of the prophecy with an optimism and determination to do her part to help. However, there is much to attract all ages here, with an intriguing political sub-plot which unfortunately the first volume is only able touch on briefly before the cliff-hanger ending. The first volume of The Spider Moon is an engaging and promising read, though frustratingly short and it can only be hoped it proves popular enough for DFC Library to continue up to the end. Reviewed by Melissa Hyland.

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