Graphic Novel Review: Adamtine by Hannah Berry

 adamtine-berry

“A complex, but fully rounded, piece of fiction!”

Adamtine-Hannah-BerryThere are some graphic novels that reveal all their secrets on the first read through and can happily be placed upon the shelf or taken to the local charity shop never to be read again. Then there are other books that will reward a re-read with small grace notes that take on new meaning once the reader has experienced the whole of the story, flesh upon the barebones of the tale’s skeleton if you will. Adamtine, written and illustrated by Hannah Berry, doesn’t just reward repeat readings, it demands them.

Adamtine is a dark story. A complex, non-linear narrative is complemented by atmospheric artwork that contains a wealth of hidden details, but is of a style that takes a few pages to get the feel for. The story focuses on the aftermath of a murder mystery in which Rodney Moon acted as an emissary for an unknown perpetrator in the disappearances of several people, but is staunch in his refusal to accept any involvement beyond that of delivering letters. Four seemingly unconnected people with issues of their own find themselves on a broken-down night train and weirdness ensues.

Berry has produced an ambitious story which is in equal measures unsettling and intriguing. The execution of her vision is strengthened by the fact it is self-illustrated, as a collaboration with a separate artist would in all likelihood have resulted in a distillation of this vision. The writer shows great trust in the reader to discern parts of the story for themselves without having to be spoon-fed plot points, and in a world seemingly obsessed with dumbing-down this is to be commended.

Adamtine is the type of graphic novel to thrust into the hands of someone who claims that comics represent an easy read. Adamtine forces the reader to interpret both the words and the images in order to gain understanding of the piece as a whole. Berry has crafted a complex, but fully rounded, piece of fiction that uses the constraints of the medium to its advantage and is well worth the time it demands of you in requiring multiple readings. Absorbing and highly recommended.

ROSS WARREN

Publisher: Jonathan Cape
Paperback (104pp)

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