Pherone is a fast-paced blending of the noir and spy genres. It weaves a dark story of a rogue operative named Eve, who has no memory of her missions or why she takes them. After waking in a hotel room covered with someone else’s blood, Eve goes in search of answers, even as she’s hunted by both the police and her own employers.
Pherone caught my attention from the first page and kept me reading until the end. While the plot of amnesiac spy in search of her past is a common one in the espionage genre, the choppy noir dialogue and dark settings gave Pherone a different feel than most. Eve is as much “femme fatale” as she is rogue spy, and the noir style allows the reader a peek into the darker recesses of Eve’s fractured mind.
The narrative isn’t heavy on exposition, but instead seems to mimic Eve’s mental state, frantic and in search of answers. While this could have created a confusing, muddled story, it works here, allowing the reader to connect more fully to Eve. Pherone leaves both the reader and its heroine with questions up to the bitter end. Eve isn’t given all the answers, and neither are we, as the secrets behind Eve’s amnesia open up a new set of questions ripe for a follow-up.
The real star of Pherone, however, is Viktor Kalvachev’s artwork. As with the pacing and style of the narrative, Kalvachev’s art gives the reader a glimpse into Eve’s broken, dark mind and contributes to the sense of urgency. In the scenes set in the present, most of the art done in black and white, with color chosen carefully. Reds, greens and blues jump off the page and draw you in. In contrast, the flashback scenes are done with soft shading and more muted hues, sectioning off Eve’s past from her present. Together, the two styles of art give the reader a more complete picture of Eve’s mind, making the art just as important in the storytelling as the dialogue.
In the end, Pherone felt more like a beginning, and left me wanting to read more. Hopefully with the publication of this collection of previous Pherone episodes we can soon see more of Eve, brought to life by Kalvachek’s art. This is definitely a story worthy of a continuation.