I love it when new creators take me someplace I’ve never imagined.
That’s the case with Light’s Children by Andy Horner and Kyle Webster. This book, the first volume of an ambitious graphic novel series, takes readers to a small school, the Westover Lake Orphanage for Abandoned Youth, where a group of mysterious children known as the Allumen live with their guardians. The children all have eyes that glow, as well as mysterious light-based abilities. Except for one mysterious boy.
Eli is the only child at the orphanage whose eyes don’t glow. Usually, an Allumen whose eyes don’t glow is found only in stillborn babies, but somehow Eli’s eyes don’t glow and he still survives. Could his survival have something to do with the mysterious pieces of flesh hanging from the cabin of the orphanage’s caretaker?
Those are just a few of the many mysteries that Horner and Webster sprinkle throughout this intriguing debut book. It’s fair to say that almost everything in this story is mysterious–from the world the characters live in to the striking number of orphans in the school to the mysterious different abilities that each child has.
However, the joy in this book isn’t in the mysteries as much as it is in the pure storytelling quality that Horner and Webster deliver. It’s clear that the two creators have really thoroughly thought about the world they created, and it’s a real joy to discover that world as it unfolds in the comic. In this first book we get just enough hints at deeper complexity to keep us coming back, but not so much that it’s off-putting.
Horner is smart enough to make sure to keep the story focused on characters like Tisdale, the prankster; Herschel, the jealous boy; and Bruno, the boy who can do no wrong. We all know people like the characters in this story, and that makes it even stranger and more interesting to see them with strange, glowing eyes and mysterious secrets.
By the end of the book, answers to some of the mysteries seem to be almost within reach. However, based on how this first book unfolds, I’m sure we’ll get more secrets as the saga unfolds.
Webster’s art is well suited for this story. He brings in many interesting touches–such as the long establishing shots at the beginning of the first chapter. There’s a map on page three, but no explanation for what is shown in the map. What is the meaning of the giant, gnarled tree in the center?
The illustrations are full of similar intrigues. Why is all the furniture in the orphanage wooden and harsh? Is it meant as a form of punishment or penance, or is there a different meaning? Is everything really as bucolic as it seems in the landscape, or are there secrets hiding? Webster seems to be implying deep secrets in the backgrounds. And why are various daily items shaped so strangely?
This is clearly a deeply thought-out and intelligent fantasy series. It’s the product of two creators who know their world well and are obviously excited to share that world with readers. It’s a heck of a debut.