Goodreads: The Stonekeeper
Series: Amulet #1
Emily, Navin, and their mother move to an old family estate hoping to start a new life. They could never imagine that on the very first night their mother will be swallowed by a monster living in the basement. Soon Emily and Navin find themselves exploring a magical new world as they try to reunite their family. But the only way to rescue their mother may be for Emily to accept the guardianship of a power, ancient amulet–and there are others seeking this power for themselves.
Kazu Kibuishi drew me into his world from the first page, where I found myself immediately attracted to the happy young family in all their beautiful normalcy–an indulgent father, a responsible mother, and an eager young daughter. The family dynamics drive the story. Though Emily and her brother Navin journey through delightfully creepy and delightfully beautiful landscapes, and though they encounter a host of intriguing characters, I kept reading because of them. I loved seeing the two siblings interact, whether Navin was whining because of the unfairness of being born second or Emily was attempting to be brave for his sake. The the two fall into a fantasy, but they are typical kids. Their story is special, ironically, because it could happen to anyone.
Perhaps because I loved the characters so much, I found that my favorite part of the book was the characters’ facial expressions. The story comes alive through their reactions, so that I felt I was alongside Emily and Navin as they tentatively explored secret passageways or even simply sat still and remembered the past. A single look conveys so much and Kibuishi proves himself an astute observer of people as he suggests infinities of thoughts and emotions in a single glance. It may seem silly to focus, as a reader, so much on these details when the plot moves apace, but such is the magic of a graphic novel. It shows such details in a way words cannot.
Though I lingered over the art, the plot never slowed and I sometimes felt a little cheated that we could not explore more fully the strange world into which Emily and Navin had fallen. Giant mushrooms, cute pink slugs, tentacled monsters–I wanted to learn about them all. The children were on a mission, however, and hardly interested in local wildlife. I can only hope that future books will slow down a little and allow readers time to savor the story and to meet the secondary characters more fully. As it was, I felt rushed along for no reason–this story barely started before it ended. Perhaps I am simply unaccustomed to reading graphic novels.
Since I feel that Book One of the Amulet series did not yet properly introduce me to the story, I plan to read at least the second installment before I make a final judgment. Right now, however, I suspect that the spunky young heroine and her younger brother are about to take me on an action-packed adventure.