REVIEW

Don’t Go Without Me

Rosemary Valero-O’Connell’s latest graphic novel combines three deeply imaginative stories in a single volume

A scene from What is Left, a story in Rosemary Valero-O'Connell's Don't Go Without Me

Rosemary Valero-O’Connell’s beautifully illustrated trio of stories are a delight to behold. They’re a blend of fantasy, dreamscapes and modern love; tricky to describe, deliberately confusing, deeply intense and finely detailed.

The three stories are bound by Valero-O’Connell’s beautiful art, their bold female perspective and their embrace of the uncanny. However, they’re each unique. In the first, two lovers agree to meet at a fracture in reality, but only one of them makes it through. What follows is a journey through a rabbit hole that would leave Lewis Carroll marvelling at its inventiveness. The second story has a science fiction edge, using a malfunctioning space ship that’s powered by human memories as a background plot device, though it turns into an astronaut’s exploration of another woman’s memories. Last up is less of a story, more of an exploration of a thought, as life passes around a sleeping female giant, who is more like a piece of the landscape for the humanity around her than a monster or a threat.

A scene from Rosemary Valero-O'Connell's Don't Go Without Me

These are wistful, ethereal stories, not lacking in substance but embracing an airiness that gives each story plenty of room to explore the sumptuous illustration. To this end, they won’t appeal to people looking for intense, satisfying tales; instead, they’re designed to relax into, to savour and luxuriate in. Valero-O’Connell’s fantastical illustration is the star of the show but the stories feed the fantasy, making a near-perfect mix of gentle fantasy.

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