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[personal profile] oyceter
(Courtney Crumrin and the Night Things, Courtney Crumrin and the Coven of Mystics, and Courtney Crumrin in the Twilight Kingdom)

Courtney Crumrin is a young girl (I'm guessing late elementary or middle school) who's forced to move to a new town when her parents decide they can't afford their place and take up her great-uncle Aloysius on his offer to let them stay at his house. Unfortunately, the town is full of plastic rich people (which Courtney's parents like), the house is full of strange creaky things, and the woods are full of goblins.

I've always loved things like The Nightmare Before Christmas—creepy and goth but not so much that it scares the living daylights out of me (in contrast, I do very poorly with horror that isn't for YA). The Courtney Crumrin series is right up this alley, and I think people who enjoy Tim Burton and Nightmare and Corpse Bride and Coraline (book and movie) will love this. The visual style in particular reminds me of those movies, and I love Naifeh's stark black and whites. Sometimes they can be a little overwhelming because there's so much contrast jammed into the multiple tiny panels—Naifeh in particular doesn't use white space quite as well as CLAMP does in xxxHolic—but the claustrophobic effect is very fitting for the series.

Courtney herself is very much not a spunky heroine. She's mean and antisocial and really doesn't like people, and quite often, her morals are rather disturbing. I found this rather refreshing in a YA book. The first book consists of unrelated shorts, and while it's fun and cements the relationship between Courtney and her uncle, I wanted a little more. You get that in the second book, which has a storyline that was very affecting and Courtney growing up, and not always in a good way. The ending in particular was great. The third book tries to integrate Courtney a little more with other kids her own age, and while I don't fully buy it, I still like it enough to read more.

Also, Uncle Aloysius kicks ass. I love him.

The series suffers a little from the Lone Girl syndrome, but at least a female mentor comes in during volume 2, even if she's not as influential as Aloysius. Race-wise, I am not sure; the stark black-and-whites make it very hard to do gradations in skin tone. Still, I think Courtney's friend in the beginning of volume 3 is black, and while I liked having POC, I thought the way Naifeh dealt with it was very stereotypical and annoying. Thankfully, it is only in one chapter, but still.

I also thought I was sick of Faerie, but I like Naifeh's version. And one of my favorite things about the books are that they really deal with the fact that the heroine doesn't like people much and is antisocial. I don't think it's something she will get over, and I very much like watching how she is not necessarily learning to love people, but how she is learning responsibility toward them, even if she doesn't like them. I feel like I haven't seen that many YA books go that way, which made this particularly enjoyable.

Fun and spooky and rather twisted. I want more now! Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] yeloson for the rec!

P.S. Have just read Naifeh's Polly and the Pirates (like) and read the first volume of Gloomcookie years and years ago. I remember Gloomcookie as having awesome art and a completely incoherent plot. I also see Naifeh has illustrated some other stories he hasn't written. Are any of those recommended, or should I just stick to the ones he writes?

(no subject)

Mon, May. 18th, 2009 05:49 am (UTC)
Posted by (Anonymous)
It's not Naifeh, but do you read Gunnerkrigg Court (http://www.gunnerkrigg.com)? Because if you like Courtney Crumrin it is very much something you would enjoy.

-- Rush-That-Speaks

(no subject)

Mon, May. 18th, 2009 03:50 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] jinian.livejournal.com
Definitely seconding this.

(no subject)

Mon, May. 18th, 2009 06:00 am (UTC)
yeloson: (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] yeloson
Yeah, I'm totally in love with both Courtney's grey morality AND the fact that the Fae are not nice, pretty, and goth. They're messed up!

So glad you got to read it!

(no subject)

Mon, May. 18th, 2009 07:29 am (UTC)
sashajwolf: photo of Martha being watched by Ten from behind (martha separate)
Posted by [personal profile] sashajwolf
Urk. When the racial issues are such that you're glad the POC character is only in one chapter, that's a little disturbing, isn't it (even if the author is Lebanese-American)?

(no subject)

Sun, May. 31st, 2009 08:17 am (UTC)
sashajwolf: photo of Blake with text: "reality is a dangerous concept" (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] sashajwolf
*nods* Didn't mean to imply any criticism of your standards :-)

(no subject)

Mon, May. 18th, 2009 03:49 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] jinian.livejournal.com
I like these, but I think the more recent ones need more plot. No idea about the illustration-only books; check them out and let us know. :)

[Compilation warning: Courtney Crumrin's Monstrous Holiday (marked volume 4) is solely composed of Courtney Crumrin and the Fire-Thief's Tale and Courtney Crumrin & the Prince of Nowhere (larger paperback books not marked with volume numbers).]


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