Grandville/Mon Amour/Bete Noire by Bryan Talbot

I like to start by mentioning the cover of pretty books. Unusually for me this time I’m going to talk about the feel of a book. It is in a standard size graphic novel format but it feels like an old hardback book. The cover art is then embossed on to this to complete a piece of tactile heaven. It took me a couple of minutes before I managed to tear myself away and open the book. That’s when the artistry really starts. From the simple and evocative cover you go open the book and find an inside cover that looks like William Morris just discovered steampunk. It would make an awesome wallpaper for a feature wall.Again I spent a minute or too admiring the inside cover. I don’t think I’ve ever done that before. As I turned the page I couldn’t help but notice the amazing quality of the paper. That is a theme throughout this book. There has been an obvious drive to make sure that every part of this book lives up to the artwork and writing contained in the story. It may not seem important but it lets you know that you are about to read something important. Something of quality.

It delivers. On a simplistic level is Sherlock Holmes meets James Bond using anthropomorphism to portray different strata of society. The basic premise is that Napoleon won the war, subjugated Britain and has only just escaped the yoke of French oppression. Add in a healthy dose of steampunk and crime noir and you’re pretty much there. There is more though. These books will make you think about oppressive regimes. I couldn’t help but think of Northern Ireland and the middle east. There is an undercurrent of politics running through these stories. What if we had a socialist Britain or France? Would the historical ruling elite accept that? Would somebody else want to grab power for themselves? These are the kind of questions you’ll be asking yourself when you finish reading this book. Anything that makes me question or think about things is good. The story line, the world building and most importantly for me the characters were believable and interesting.

These are more than books. They are works of art. you will not regret buying them.

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