cover image The First Day of Christmas (Friday #1)

The First Day of Christmas (Friday #1)

Ed Brubaker, illus. by Marcos Martin. Image, $14.99 paper (120p) ISBN 978-1-5343-2058-1

Mistakes haunt orange-haired, bespectacled, white 18-year-old Friday Fitzhugh’s return to her occult-steeped town for freshman year winter break in this eerie, suspenseful mystery evoking the 1970s. Six years ago, when she and her family moved to Kings Hill—whose ancient residents performed human sacrifices to gods, according to lore—Friday saved and befriended 11-year-old mystery-solving genius Lancelot “Lance” Jones, who has black hair and light skin. The night before she leaves for college, Friday acknowledges the romantic tension between her and Lance, leading to a sexual encounter both find awkward and unfulfilling. Though Friday expects to discuss the event with Lance, her return instead finds Lance knee-deep in an investigation, one that resurfaces a terrifying supernatural encounter that Friday mistook for a dream. Brubaker’s (Cruel Summer) slow-burn pacing intensifies the story’s mysteries while capably introducing the cast and town. Martin’s (Barrier) French-esque, wiry line art resolves into sweeping, endless forests and all-encompassing, imposing spirits as colorist Muntsa Vicente creates striking nighttime scenes with bold, dramatic lighting. Told over three chapters, this atmospheric first installment sets up compelling sequels, with a sucker punch ending that demands follow-up. Ages 13–up. (Nov.)