Mmmmmm. This is really hit and miss. The quality varies from story to story and the length of each seems really uneven. It’s all just a bit . . . scattergun.
The first story is a solid 60 pages odd long (as opposed to the last story which is 4) and it is a kind of unbearable Harry Potter/Buffy mashup. Everything about this piece is cringeworthy. The writing is awful, the kind of writing that makes you say aloud when reading it, “Who talks like that? When have you ever heard someone talking like that?” But if possible the artwork is worse. There are three female characters in this story and I honestly couldn’t tell them apart from panel-to-panel. That’s pretty bad considering one was meant to be black, one white and one Latina. I found myself just trying to track the pattern on someone’s sweatshirt to keep track of who was who, and had to scrutinise each new scene when they were in different outfits. And because the dialogue is so clunky this was actually hilariously hard. Here’s the story – two of the girls are going out with each other, but they pretend to use their mate’s boyfriend as a beard they compete over, which suits everybody because the third lassie isn’t meant to be seeing him in the first place and they’re on the down-low too. Simple? You have no idea how long it took me to pick that up.
Ruined is the only story I really liked and wanted to read more of. It was good because it was the only one in the collection that showed some true vulnerability, which is where romance gets its sweetness, its heartache. The artwork was simple but effective, although I would have liked some background detail in some of the panels (you’re having this conversation a 19th century mansion bedroom, do not use purple on a diagonal fade as your background goddamn it!) It’s about a poor lassie, who has lost her ‘virtue’ in a torrid love affair, being quickly and shamefully married off to penniless aristocracy for the sake of the family honour. In small moments, these two strangers, now newlyweds, try to foster intimacy that neither imposes on, demands of or hurts the other. The story has a quietly gentle tone and is endearing because of it.
The next story The Ruby Equation is a fun, kooky supernatural sitcom/romcom miniature. I found it mildly irritating in its hipster twee, but it was competently put together and overall pleasant.
There’s then an Angela Carter-esque reworking of the beauty and the beast fairytale, then a 4-page story about first kisses that foretell the last. The artwork and writing are both fairly satisfying but ultimately quite forgettable.
Mmmm. C+ with a view to being open to reading more to see if it improves.