BOOK REVIEW: The Voices of Water by Tiziano Sclavi

The Voices of WaterThe Voices of Water by Tiziano Sclavi
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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Release Date: November 22, 2022

As the title suggests, this graphic novel is about a guy who hears voices, voices that he most often can’t quite make out, but only in the presence of moving water – i.e. rain, the shower, a sink, etc. Though the reader may read it more as a series of short fiction chapters with a vague vein of interconnectedness. A choice was made to keep the text sparse and to let the imagery do the heavy lifting. I’m not sure it worked out as well as intended, though there is wide variation throughout the book. There are a few chapters that can be read as clear and evocative standalone stories (e.g. “Revenge,” “In a Better World,” and “A Day of the Week: Tuesday,”) but there are others that leave one wondering whether one grasped what was intended (if anything was intended.)

The art is line-drawn (penciled style) monochrome. It works well for the tone of the book, and many of the frames feature old town European architecture that is both attractive and establishes an interesting setting.

This one is definitely high on atmospherics and feels a little disjoint because it’s not always clear that the protagonist, Stavros, is in the vicinity of the action, and – therefore – how the overarching narrative ties together. Overall, I think it works, and I’m glad I read it.


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BOOK REVIEW: He Who Fights With Monsters by Francesco Artibani

He Who Fights With MonstersHe Who Fights With Monsters by Francesco Artibani
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Amazon.in Page

Release date: August, 30, 2022

This graphic novel tells a story featuring the Prague Golem, a mighty protector figure from Judaic folklore – formed of clay and breathed to life by magic words. The setting is Nazi-occupied Prague, and the golem is brought to life after a great period of dormancy, having been stored in the rafters of a synagogue, in order to once more act as protector to the Jewish people.

It’s a gripping tale of wartime resistance, but with a flat ending. However, I’m not sure it could have concluded in a satisfying way. That’s the challenge of writing a story of a superhero versus Nazis. The Holocaust is such a colossal tragedy that to rewrite the it resets the book into some alternate reality fantasyland, striking a raw nerve and killing any poignancy in the process.

The artwork is skillfully rendered and captures the grim nature of a city under fascist occupation quite well.

I enjoyed the story, despite not really knowing how to process the ending. Maybe that’s the point, that one can’t turn such mindless brutality into a storybook satisfying ending [by satisfying I don’t mean happy, but rather concluded in the definitive and intrinsically reasonable – if horrifying – way of tragedies.] Still, one is left wondering about apparent changes in character motivation and whether they make any sense — because they don’t feel like they do.

If you’re intrigued by a historical fiction / fantasy mashup set in Prague during the Second World War, check this book out, but expect to be left in an uneasy space at the end.


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