cover image Dawn Land

Dawn Land

Joseph Bruchac and Will Davis, Roaring Book/First Second, $19.99 trade paper (320p) ISBN 978-1-59643-143-0

Adapted from Bruchac's 1993 prose novel, this lengthy fable, set in ancient times and apparently inspired by Abenaki folklore, concerns a young Native American hunter (called Young Hunter) who goes out to seek vengeance after his village is attacked by man-eating giants. Eventually, he's given the secret of using a bow and arrow, saves the day, and gets the girl (she's from another tribe, so her speech is represented as abstract squiggles). There's something curiously off about the tone of Bruchac's story: it's too deliberately paced to work as a folk tale, too otherworldly to work as straightforward narration, and his characters are saddled with leaden direct-to-video dialogue like "The twisting inside of him is strong. I see something coming from this that will make our people weep." Davis's rugged, heavily stylized artwork is much more effective; his painterly landscapes carry a lot of the book's scene-setting, and he gives its many long silent passages a lush and meditative tone. He also pulls off a few remarkable set-pieces, especially one where Young Hunter discovers a cave painting. Still, the story suffers from muddled storytelling. Illus. (Oct. 12)