Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Artichoke Tales

Megan Kelso

This is the first work that I've read from Megan Kelso (The Squirrel Mother Stories), and I really like her storytelling style.  She has a nice cartoony style with delicate little swirls and funny-looking characters with sprouts on their heads.  It's a story that feels whimsical throughout, with playful characters that partake in festivals to celebrate the changing of the seasons, but has a serious side, as it's a multi-generational tale that sees two sides of a civil war that has seen devastation in the south, and has put lovers at odds with one another.  The family of women that we follow comes with knowledge of the land, and have made a living through an apothecary.  We see how the herbs and ointments are collected, how they run it, and its transition through the years, at the same time that we learn of the war that has devastated them, and the cold queen that was born in the north that laid siege to their towns.  I was really excited about this book when I read the first chapter, and really looked forward to continuing the story, and it may be because I had to read it in short bursts instead of all at once(even though I understand that it was originally released in mini-comics), but I found myself confused when the story jumped back and forth in time, and eventually I found my enthusiasm wane a bit.  I still really enjoyed the book overall, and the saga of this family remains compelling, but I think readers need to pay close attention when reading so as not to lose the thread of the story and its subtle changes.  Wait for a time when you can sit down and read it cover to cover, and savor the tale.  It's kind of a quiet story, lovingly painting the portrait of this family through the years, but it's pretty ambitious as more characters are drawn in and the war weaves itself into the fiber of who these people are, prejudices and all.  Artichoke Tales is elegant and lovingly crafted by a talented artist.

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