cover image The Wrenchies

The Wrenchies

Farel Dalrymple. First Second, $19.99 trade paper (304p) ISBN 978-1-59643-421-9

With its plot in constant flux and scant exposition, it’s easy to get lost in the violent fever dream Dalrymple has concocted. But far from being a detraction, the book’s untethered structure plays into its overall weirdness and elusive premise. The Wrenchies could be a band of preteen freedom fighters from a barren, postapocalyptic future; comic-book characters come to life for a nervous, imaginative boy named Hollis; or the twisted fantasies of Sherwood Presley Breadcoat, a disillusioned 35-year-old who never got over the childhood disappearance of his brother. Trying to suss out the truth is likely missing the point. The book is more like an abstract painting, insofar as what it evokes matters more than what it literally communicates. The plot and characters adhere to a dreamlike logic, one where interdimensional travel, arcane magic, complex quests, and explosively gory deaths are treated at face value. Dalrymple uses simple language to convey the book’s nightmarish concepts and depicts them in lurid yet childlike watercolors that combine in a haunting, strange, and frequently stomach-churning exploration of human insecurity and pain. Ages 14–up. Agent: Bernadette Baker-Baughman, Victoria Sanders & Associates. (Sept.)