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Frankenstein: Now and Forever
Despite its title, this book isn't a graphic rendering of Mary Shelley's gothic horror classic, though her monster does play a part and both stories are set in the same town of Inglostadt, Switzerland. Frankenstein: Now and Forever is grounded in the modern world, juxtaposing and interweaving Shelley's work with the lives of two disenfranchised women. Finding a copy of the book abandoned by someone doing a clear-out, the characters are lead on individual flights of darkly imaginative fancy - one exploring her powerlessness to influence the direction her life is leading, the other exploring her horrific and deeply buried past.
Baladi's artistic style is dark and bold, with heavy monochromatic lines disguising a surprising wealth of detail. The characterisation, as often happens when writer and artist become one, is fascinating, with visual expression more than filling the gaps between words.
This is a heavy duty work that bears multiple readings. A long way from being light and escapist, this fantasy is weighty and disturbing, with little relief from its nervy pace and dream-like structure. Its themes run deep and readers must be prepared to invest time and emotion into the book, though those that do should find it an ultimately fulfilling, if far from uplifting experience.
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