The Raven’s Child (Penguin)

A young woman fends off an alien hoard by donning the costume of their greatest fear in this dystopian fantasy.



108 pgs. B&W; $19.95 paperback
(W: Thomas E. Sneigoski; A: Tom Brown)
In the world of books, there are a lot of invasion/apocalypse stories involving human resistance and alien hoards. However, while there may be a lot of these kinds of tales, they persist for a reason, and every once in a while youll find a gem hidden in the rubble. Such was the case in my reading of The Ravens Child, a new dystopian fantasy by Thomas E. Sneigoski and artist Tom Brown.
Imagine a world in which mankind has been brought to heel by an oppressive force beyond human comprehension. The world has been reduced to rubble, and the alien race known as the Throng is the planets new dominant life force. Forced into this world is a young woman named Carissa. Orphaned at a young age, Carissa was raised in a world where monsters roamed the streets and one small misstep made the difference between living another day and being some creatures dinner. One day her life takes an unexpected turn when she is discovered by a rogue member of the Throng race who not only saves her life, but offers her something she could have only dreamed about before that moment: vengeance. Vengeance for her parents, vengeance for her lost innocence, and vengeance for the world she never knew. So, taking on the guise of the one being the Throng fear, Carissa roams the streets, reaping monster and sowing fear as the Ravens Child.
The story of The Ravens Child is a harmonious mix of Batmans modus operandi, the femme fatale edginess of Joss Whedons Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and the invasion elements of the 2014 film Edge of Tomorrow. The story comes complete with a badass female heroine, a hostile alien force slowly crawling its way across the globe, and a final battle to determine the fate of all of mankind. You really feel for Carissa and her struggle. Born with no special skills and given only a modicum of training, she feels the burden of ending a war that humanity has all but given up on fighting by using the form of a half-forgotten deity to frighten her enemies and hopefully inspire some reluctant allies.
The art, provided by illustrator Tom Brown, is done up in the classic noir mixture of blacks, whites, and grays, making every monster of the Throng race look like it was built from a mixture of teeth and shadow. However, it was the quality of the art itself that didnt quite live up to the standard set by Sneigoskis narrative. Browns backgrounds and character designs resemble something you would expect to see in the underground comics movement from the late sixties and early seventies. The talent is there, but its rougher and less polished than what you would expect to see on the market today, especially coming from a publisher as large as Penguin/Random House. 
Despite its unpolished exterior though, the quality of Sneigoskis writing shines through, bringing to life characters from a fable literally not of this world. To the YA and Fantasy readers out there, this is a graphic novel worth checking out, lest the Ravens Child come for you to close your eyes. | Brent Mueller

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