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*Portal Pages: GRAPHIC & HORROR

Book Reviews for Young Adults

Graphic Novels

Snyder, S., Capullo, G., Glapion, J., & Plascencia, F. (2012). Batman: Volume 1New York : DC Comics.

Awards: 1013 American Library Association Great Graphic Novels for Teens


The hero’s journey traversed by Bruce Wayne is marked by tragedy and darkness. Generations have watched and read the transformation of an orphaned boy into the masked vigilante known as the Batman. Though diehard fans might think they know all there is to the genesis story of the famed Caped Crusader, Snyder and Capullo’s Court of Owls presents new mysteries from old generations rarely ever tapped in the Batman narratives.

Full of murder, mystery and potential betrayal, the Court of Owls delves deep into Wayne’s familial connections and traumas. From a murky knowledge of a grandfather driven mad by owls, to the potential murderous spree of Dick Grayson, Wayne will have to open old wounds and examine himself and his relationships in order to stop the gruesome killings perpetrated by the Court and their immortal Talon killers.

I give this story 4 out of 5. The artwork is excellent, though sometimes a bit frenetic and violent. The darkness to the images and the small print can make it a bit tedious to read, losing the title one star. It is a fantastic read and a much needed fresh take on the Batman narratives. I particularly enjoyed learning about the origins of the Grayson family and their ties to the magical and murderous organization that is the newest threat to flood the streets of Gotham City. 


Horror Graphic Novels

Grimly, G., & Shelley, M. W. (2013). Frankenstein, or, The modern Prometheus. New York: Balzer + Bray.

Awards: Society of Illustrator's "The Original Art 2013 Featured Artists" list


Gris Grimly's Frankenstein does something that most graphic novels adaptations never even try: It uses the original text. Frankenstein is considered a seminal work of horror for a reason - it is very scary! Using the original language adds to the terror, giving it a romantic, other worldly feel. The old language does have a potential drawback, in being a little difficult for modern readers to understand. This difficulty, however, is offset by the excellent illustrations. They are penned in a cartoonish fashion that allows for some of the more shocking elements of the story to be suitable for teenagers, young and old. The text can be a little cramped and spindly at times, but that is the price you pay for including so much original text, rather then heavily redacting in favor of more comic panes. This is an excellent introduction to classic horror with images that give a good grasp of the original author's vision and intent. I give this book 4 out of 5 stars for a respectful treatment of a classic.    


Gaiman, N. & Russell, P. (2015). The graveyard book graphic novel: Volume 1.  New York :Harper Collins.

Awards: Based on the novel awarded 2009 Newbery Medal, 2009 Hugo Award, 2010 Carnegie Medal, 2009 Locust Award

ReviewWhen Bod’s family is brutally murdered, he takes refuge in a graveyard. The toddler is adopted by its inhabitants and raised on the teachings of things that only the dead know. His childhood is filled with strange happenings, portals to hell, mystical beings, and werewolf guardians. As he grows older, he becomes curious about the outside world and begs to be enrolled in a real live school with real live children. Unfortunately, Bod’s unconventional upbringing does not prepare him for life with the living and after some altercations with students and shopkeepers; he decides to stay close to the safety of his graveyard home. Little does Bod know that the safety of the undead would soon be shattered by the arrival of his family’s murderer. Jack Frost has returned to finish the job and forcing Bod to fight for his life among the dead.

The Graveyard Book, by Neil Gaiman, is an excellent read that closely parallels the Jungle book and is adapted from Gaiman’s award winning novel of the same name. It is full of fantastic supernatural characters and more text than one often finds in graphic novels which make sit feel more like a book then a cartoon. Though this adaptation is suitable for middle school aged children, teenagers and adults alike will enjoy this new twist on an old classic.



Riggs, R. (2011). Miss Peregrine’s home for peculiar children. Philadelphia, PA: Quirk Books.

Awards:  2012 Benjamin Franklin Award Finalist, 2012 Locus Award Nominee, 2013 Eliot Rosewater Indiana High School Book Award Nominee, 2013 Kentucky Bluegrass Award Nominee, 2013 Volunteer State Book Award Nominee, 2014 Charlotte Award Nominee, 2014 Grand Canyon Reader Award Recommended, 2014 Green Mountain Book Award Nominee, 2014 Pennsylvania Young Reader's Choice Award Winner, 2014 Sequoyah Book Award Nominee, 2014 Young Reader's Choice Award Nominee, 2015 Iowa Teen Award Nominee, 2016 California Young Reader Medal Nominee

ReviewMany of us grew up on fantastical fairy stories, knowing that they were fantasy, but dreaming nonetheless of magical creatures and great quests. Jacob Portman’s grandfather wove for him similar tales, but with photographic proof of his days in a mysterious boarding school for peculiar children; children with powers. As he grew older, part of Jacob still believed in Grandpa Abe’s stories, and when Abe is tragically killed by a monster, Jacob is certain of truth, even if his parents aren’t. To cope with the grief of his loss, Jacob and his father fly to Cairnholm Island, the site of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. Though there is little more left than a crumbling foundation of the school, Jacob continues to search for the truth in Abe’s words, ultimately finding a portal to the past that leads him into the stories of his childhood. Locked in time, Miss Peregrine and her children never age, and Jacob is able to meet and befriend the kids from his Grandfather’s past, even fostering a budding romance with a beautiful firestarter. But, when a terrible threat forces them to flee the safety of Cairnholm, Jacob is drawn into a battle to save the peculiars of the world. Will Jacob follow in his Grandfather’s heroic footsteps? Will the children escape the deadly hollowghasts? Will Jacob ever find a place for himself, a boy between the normal and the peculiar?

I give this book 4 out of 5 stars for being a wonderfully inventive and fast paced tale. Though some of the character development can be one dimensional at times, Ransom Riggs, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is a fun read with a promising mystery that will leave young readers eager to explore the other books in this peculiar series.