Book of Shadows #1 introduces Annie Lovelock, a teenage girl who has been lost in depression over the suicide of her boyfriend. Since Michael’s death, Annie’s life has felt empty, without reason. In a moment of vague desperation, Annie tries summoning a demon. To her great surprise, Annie succeeds and actually does summon a demon, an event that launches her on a great journey into a world of magic and mystery, a vast fantasyland called the Land of Misrule where hydras and sea creatures and annoying little demons live. In doing so, she retrieves two items of great value: one is a magic lantern; the other is her passion for life.
Yeah, it’s a little bit precious. Your enjoyment of this story is pretty much equal to the power you get from this quotation from the comic: “I could have chosen anyone to retrieve the lantern from the place where I could not venture. But I chose you. You wrapped yourself in shadows too. Crushed down by grief. Living death, not life. I could not see any sister suffer so. Inside you, the spark I saw has become a flickering flame. You may light your own path now. You have uncovered the true power that lies in your heart. Use it wisely.”
In other words, Annie was chosen for her quest because she needed something else to think about. That’s not a bad theme for a story, I suppose, but within the short space of two issues it seems just a little bit quick, a bit of a sudden change of heart. Essentially, Annie has had an amazing dreamlike experience that has helped to change her deeply. It feels a bit pat, but there’s undeniable power in the concept as well.
Bo Hampton’s art is just fine for this comic, though it always feels like he’s not given the freedom to really go wild with his artwork. Hampton has done several really wonderful fantasy comics in the past, full of color and energy and passion. This story has nice art by him, but there are no spectacular moments where Hampton really lets his imagination take reign.
Book of Shadows is not a bad comic, but to me it’s just lacking a certain spark that would make it wonderful.