Courtney Crumrin Volume 4: Monstrous Holiday Special Edition

GameStop, Inc.

by Jessica Greenlee
Staff Writer

Courtney Crumrin Monstrous Holiday Ted NaifehCourtney Crumrin Volume 4: The Monstrous Holiday is the volume where Courtney’s age and vulnerability become most apparent. She has dealt with a lot of darkness and danger in her past and coped with indifferent parents by feigning her own indifference. She started to grow both interest and wonder when she discovered magic, a practice which also, unfortunately, exposes her to dangers she is not ready to deal with.

Most of the tension and the pleasure here comes from watching Courtney and her uncle maneuver around her. Given her intelligence and curiosity, Courtney is drawn to magic. She also wants it because she, as a young and largely neglected girl who has now spent time in three different, and dangerous, neighborhoods, needs the power it offers her, but she’s not always ready for the power others have. Given her experience with humans, she is generally more drawn to “monsters.” Her uncle is trying to guide her through all of this but, unfortunately, he is an old, powerful man who has gotten that way by staying uninvolved—or so he lets Courtney think. Evidence points, however, to his having a number of monstrous friends himself, and to having been quite involved in life at some point in the past. Courtney is neither old nor wise enough to quite call him on his hypocrisy, and the misunderstandings between the two almost end disastrously for both. Some of the consequences may well be playing out for both of them for years to come.

As in the other Courtney Crumrin volumes, the definition of “monster” is not nearly as simple as most of the humans would like to think. The monsters might be the shape-changing werewolves and tempting vampires, or they might be the intolerant humans, or they might be Courtney and her uncle, or all of the above. No one comes out entirely clean, and even when the right action seems evident, it is unlikely to come with much by way of affirmation and reward. These are dark little books suitable for those who like a side-order of uncertainty with their reading.

Warren Wucinich’ coloring here has more subtlety and shading than in the earlier color editions. Skin tone still tends to be flat, but backgrounds are effectively moody, and the cover artwork is lovely. His line work is, as ever, graceful, and the spiky, harsh lines of the non-humans matches their otherworldly nature.

In the book-as-object department, the special edition of this volume is up there in quality. The cover is a handsome maroon with an inset picture and a silver leaf pattern; it’s easy to hold and beautiful to look at.

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