Three Shadows

Cyril Pedrosa, Author
Cyril Pedrosa, Author . Roaring Brook/First Second $15.95 (272p) ISBN 978-1-59643-239-0
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Rarely has the succulent appeal of quiet country life been portrayed with such sensual skill as it is in Pedrosa's limpid graphic novel about a boy, his parents and the trio of hooded riders who watch them. Pedrosa adeptly establishes the mood of timeless bucolic idyll immediately, with his swirling, sometimes harshly etched, black-and-white renderings of the land cultivated by hulking farmer Louis; his wife, Lise; and their scampering boy, Joachim. The family's playful antics are overshadowed first by ruminative narration, then by three riders, who watch the family with unnerving patience from the foggy distance. A local witch tells Lise that the “shadows” have come for Joachim, after which Louis impetuously makes a run for it with his son, warned that he must treasure every moment with the boy. The resulting story is more Appointment in Samarra –style dream than chase, with Louis and Joachim floundering from one mysterious episode to the next, the implacable shadows following, as in a nightmare. French artist Pedrosa's background as a Disney animator is clearest in his exaggerated movements and facial expressions, but the story (inspired by the death of a close friend's young child) is a glorious and revelatory fable, beautiful in its grief. (Apr.)

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