Review: The Stonekeeper by Kazu Kibuishi

The Stonekeeper by Kazu Kibuishi

Title: The Stonekeeper (Amulet, 1)
Author: Kazu Kibuishi
Genre: Adventure, Fantasy, Middle Grade
Publisher: Scholastic (11th May 2017)
Blurb:

THERE’S SOMETHING STRANGE BEHIND THE BASEMENT DOOR . . .

After a family tragedy, Emily, Navin, and their mother mover to an ancestral home to start a new life. On the family’s very first night in the mysterious house, Em and Navin’s mom is kidnapped by a tentacled creature. Now it’s up to Em and Navin to figure out how to set things right and save their mother’s life!

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ (3 stars)
Review:

THE STONEKEEPER is the first book in Kazu Kibuishi’s series Amulet. It follows the story of Emily and Navin, who move into their ancestral home with their mother after a family tragedy. All three of them struggle to come to terms with their new circumstances. The move to their ancestral home is supposed to be a fresh start for the three of them, but Emily and Navin’s mum is kidnapped by a tentacled creature during their first night in the house. Determined to get her back, Emily and Navin set out on an adventure to rescue their mother and save her life.

I can’t remember how I first came across the Amulet series, but it’s been one I have been curious about for a while. I saw a copy of THE STONEKEEPER whilst on the London Bookshop Crawl, so of course I had to pick it up. The art is just as lovely in real life as it is online. The book itself is fairly thick for a graphic novel – it’s more the size I would expect for a comic compilation. The story itself is interesting and kept me turning the pages, though I wish there was more of it.

As the first book in the Amulet series, Kibuishi uses THE STONEKEEPER to introduce the characters, the world, and the beginning of the plot for the rest of the series. Kibuishi does a great job building tension and conveying information, without really seeming like he’s doing so. I really liked the way he portrays Emily and Navin’s relationship it seems like a realistic one between siblings that are close in age. I particularly enjoyed how close Emily is to her mother. Although the blurb suggests that Emily and Navin are both main characters, in this book Kibushi focuses mainly on Emily – I hope we get to see more of Navin in future books.

Kazu Kibuishi’s artwork is really emotive, and I think it really captures the feelings of each particular scene. The style of the panels is very, what I think of as, manga-esq but with a more western influence (though I can’t quite put my finger on why). The front cover is exactly the same style as what is inside THE STONEKEEPER – I liked the fact that Kibuishi has kept consistent with his style. THE STONEKEEPER is coloured well, and to great effect. I also enjoyed the variety of character designs.

That being said, although I think that the book is really aesthetically pleasing and that the story is interesting and is full of potential I didn’t fall in love with the story. Though I do think THE STONEKEEPER is definitely one to check out if you’re looking to get into the graphic novel genre and are a fan of the fantasy genre – you can definitely see influences of the fantasy genre (both book and film) within Kibuishi’s work, which I enjoyed. It is definitely a book for middle grade (or 9 to 12 year old) readers, though I think the lower end of the young adult market would enjoy it too.

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