Is Zadie’s new power dangerous? Can she save her loved ones from herself?
*WARNING: SPOILERS FOR SHADECRAFT VOL. 1 AHEAD**
Shadecraft’s story starts off with Zadie walking with her best friend Josh, home from school. Getting her signals wrong she accidentally kisses him and gets shut down. Mortified, she runs home but stops to find a creepy shadow slithering towards her. Before she can get inside her house the shadows burst free trying to engulf her, only to be stopped by her mom turning on the porch light. She goes to school the next day on edge.
She comes home and talks to her brother, Ricky. Ricky has been in a coma from a car accident for a year. His mother stays at home to take care of him 24 hours a day. She tells her brother that all her life she constantly felt like she was in his shadow. She says even now she’s referred to as the coma boy’s sister and that she’s mostly avoided at school. She admits that she would rather have him awake as the golden child again than his current state. Her mom sees her in the room with her brother and gets angry because she doesn’t feel like she appreciates all she does to help Ricky.
Zadie runs away telling her mom that he’s never waking up. She runs into the woods and starts crying. The shadows start making their way towards her again, Growing bigger and bigger until they try to crash into her. Luckily she is saved by a shadow man who tells her to run. She tries to help the shadow man but they get overtaken by the shadows. I really liked how creepy the shadows are illustrated! With quick thinking, she uses her cellphone light to get it off of them. She finds out that the shadow man is actually her brother. He is trapped outside of his body. He has no memory of how he got there or why he’s her shadow.
The next morning Zadie is called to Angela, the guidance counselors office who wants to talk to her about her brother. Her brother looks around the office and warns her that there’s a gun in the counselor’s desk. She makes an excuse to leave as fast as possible to talk alone with her brother. They make a plan to break into the school and sneak into the counselor’s office to find out what she’s hiding. They find nothing but freeze when Angela is aiming a gun at them. She tells Zadie to calm down, which makes her look behind her to see the shadows surrounding the whole hallway menacingly.
The shadow reaches out to Angela, slowly wrapping around her neck. Angela admits that she’s a special agent that works for the government. She is part of a task force that seeks out people like Zadie. People who can manipulate shadows. She came to the school to investigate her. She admits that she can give Zadie answers if she lets her go. Zadie panics and the shadows grow worse enveloping the counselor. Her brother manages to calm her down which helps her gain control of her powers. She learned that her shadow gifts react strongly to negative emotions which her being a teenager is something that she has an abundance of.
The counselor tells her she can teach her how to use her gifts. After her training, she runs into her best friend Jake who shot her down when she kissed him. He admits that he’s been seeing some creepy shadows near him lately. Concerned, she goes to the guidance counselor and finds out that the negative emotions she felt during that night when he rejected her made dangerous shadows latch on to him. She has to learn to control her gift or he will die. What happens next is a mix of high stakes, betrayals, and mysteries that I won’t spoil for how good they are.
First of all, let’s talk about the beautiful artwork by Lee Garbett. His illustrations of the shadows provide a creepy atmosphere to the whole story. They look like an actual threat hanging over people that she feels are dangerous to herself. They are very imaginative looking. They look like ink spilled in water, it is a very cool effect to see. It gives off horror vibes that make this book unique from just your typical heroine’s journey story. Some images I can just picture when I close my eyes and it makes me shiver. The character design is also well done. The colors pop when they are supposed to which contrasts nicely with the dark images in between.
As for the writing, Joe Henderson does a great job writing this story. He provides twists and turns I was not expecting. I really liked Zadie as the main character. Zadie living in the shadow of trauma, of being an outcast in high school, of an older sibling who you think you could never live up to is relatable. I like how her shadows react strongly to her negative emotions which is why she has such a hard time controlling them. Teenagers are full of negative emotions. Especially in high school. So her powers going haywire makes sense. I also really love her relationship with her brother, Ricky.
Even though he should be freaking out that he is trapped outside of his body, he is always looking after his sister. Henderson writes a realistic yet heartwarming relationship between the two. I heard this series was picked up by Netflix and I can honestly say I’m excited to see it. If you want to read a story with gorgeous visuals, intriguing premise, and entertaining characters, I really recommend picking up this graphic novel!
Shadecraft Vol. 1 is available now at your local comic book shop.
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