This is the first collected volume of the popular web comic Gunnerkrigg Court
. I had never read the web comic before, and only picked this book up because I happened to see it sitting on a shelf in the library and I had heard of the web comic. Yeah, some of my reads are totally random like that.Gunnerkrigg Court
is a Hogwarts-like private school somewhere in Britain, surrounded by a mysterious forest that contains everything from robot parrots to ghosts and faeries to the trickster god Coyote. The main character is a girl named Antimony Carver, who bears enough similarities to Harry Potter for the resemblance to be more than coincidental. The students at Gunnerkrigg Court
are not wizards, though there's enough magic and technology floating around that hardly anyone can be assumed to be a "Muggle."
That this started as an amateur web comic shows - the art is not bad, though certainly nothing remarkable, manga-inspired like all the kids are drawing these days. The setting is full of everything and the kitchen sink, and while Siddell seems to be doing a lot of worldbuilding here, it's not clear how much is planned and how much was "Hey, robot parrots! And... and a demon trapped in the body of a stuffed animal! And... tree-spirit-things..." and whatever else crossed his mind.
However, he's certainly working on some long-term plotlines. A lot of characters are established, most of whom have some history with Antimony's parents. (Antimony's mother is dead and her father has Mysteriously Vanished.)
This volume tells the story of Antimony's first year, at the end of which hardly any of the many mysteries raised have been answered. We have little idea about the whos, whats, or whys of all the weirdness.
The reason I liked it enough to consider reading on is the chemistry between the two girl characters: Antimony and her best friend Kat. Kat is a dorky scientific genius and the emotional counterpart to Antimony's cool, almost humorless demeanor. The two of them are both quite charming in their own way, and if there is one thing Sidwell gets right, it's their friendship. That and the fact that I'd like to see if the author really has worked out some grand, overarching metaplot he's going to bring to fruition, since he's clearly mining J.K. Rowling territory.
3.5 stars. The art is only so-so; the setting and story is disorganized but interesting, and the characters are cute.