Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Phoenix Requiem (Volume 1)

Sarah Ellerton
Every once in awhile I check in on and I recently saw that the webcomic The Phoenix Requiem was at the top of the list. The art caught my eye immediately - it was quite beautiful. And somewhat familiar, but I couldn't quite place it at first. This fantasy title is written by Sarah Ellerton, creator of Inverloch, another webcomic that had a few volumes published in paperback a few years back. There's even a reference to a character from that series in her newest title, which is really quite good.
Sarah Ellerton is about a volume and a half into the story of The Phoenix Requiem (eight chapters), and once I began reading, it was pretty hard to stop, especially as things came to a head at the end of the first volume. But it's not finished obviously, and I thought that a volume in would be a good place to stop for now. The story follows a young woman, Anya, who's training to be a nurse in a small Victorian-esque village where many people believe in magic. Anya doesn't. But while the doctor is out of town and the village is left solely in her care, a stranger falls unconscious at the outskirts of town in the snow, and Anya nurses him back to health at the same time as a horrible sickness claims the life of a villager, eating away his flesh extremely quickly. The stranger, Jonas, soon awakens and an attraction blossoms between him and Anya, though Anya is much too dedicated to her profession to become as attached as she'd like. As the story progresses, more people die from the mysterious disease, and some people in town are seeing strange things out of the corner of their eyes.
While I really did like the art in Inverloch, Ellerton's craft has really improved with The Phoenix Requiem. It's very crisp and clear, and still has that fluid cinematic style that I really enjoyed in her previous series. The characters are really enjoyable as well. They're more lively, each with their own motivations and secrets. Not much in the form of blatant fantasy appears in the first volume of this book aside from the mysterious disease and phantom images, but the mysteries are compelling and one can feel the story building toward something spectacular, at the same time as we watch the blossoming attraction between Jonas and Anya unfold. This is a fun Victorian fantasy/romance and I recommend it to anyone looking for a fun genre comic. Read it for free here.

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