Book review

Review: Harmony’s Necklace (Alcyon #1) – Richard Marazano and Christophe Ferreira (Illustrator)

47 pages| Europe comics| Myth retelling/adaptation, SFF, Fantasy, YA, MG, Translated fiction, Comic book

I received a review copy of this comic from the publisher via NetGalley.

The digest: Do you like comics? Do you like myth retellings/adaptations? If so then this issue is a must-read. This is a great start to what seems to be a promising story, with fantastical elements and interesting characters/

From Alcyon’s Goodreads page:

“Sycion, the jewel of ancient Greece, at the time of tyrants and myths… In order to right a wrong that threatens their tribes and fathers, Alcyon and Phoebe, two troublemaking friends, depart in search of Harmony’s necklace, a legendary item forged by the god Hephaestus himself. Joined by Kyrilos, a young Spartan out to prove himself, their adventures in this world will be long, dangerous, and epic.”

What did I like?

  • I do love a good story focused on ancient mythology –  especially the Ancient Greeks. I’ll skirt around exact details due to the short length of Harmony’s Necklace, but I will say that if you are interested in any sort of cross-over between the mortals and deities/monsters of Ancient Greece, then you will not be disappointed here. That isn’t to say that we land in the middle of the Trojan War with heroes literally fighting gods, but this world is clearly in the Age of Heroes of Ancient Greece (as Hesiod would probably put it), and as such you can expect to see mythical beings in a ‘real world’ setting – that of Ancient Sycion.
  • For a comic just 47 pages long (I’m not quite convinced that this constitutes a ‘volume’ as it is labelled, especially comparing it to other comic volumes which are hundreds of pages long), there is a surprising amount of worldbuilding and character development going on. Of course, one shouldn’t expect too much from such a short publication, but there are hints of developmental frameworks throughout and I’m excited to see where these lead to in the future. I felt like we were quickly brought up to speed about the general history of the characters’ predicaments, and learned about fantastical elements as they did. Excellent, really.
  • There were a fair few nods to real elements of ancient history – such as the assembly of the Spartans or how they dealt with tyrants. For those who have some knowledge of these things before reading the comic, this is a welcome addition to the worldbuilding, and for those who don’t, it subtracts nothing from the story.
  • The story itself is rather straight-forward, but its focus on multiple groups of characters allows the reader to enjoy a fair amount of the storyworld. We aren’t limited to just followed Alcyon and Phoebe, but also a mercenary and the protagonists’ concerned fathers. It’s an entertaining mixture.
  • The artwork is nice and clean; characters and settings were clearly defined and I enjoyed its rather muted colours. Well done to Ferreira.
  • The translation is straightforward and in no way detracts from the story. I don’t really have too much to add to this; the translation does its job with such fluidity that I wouldn’t have known the comic was originally published in French.

What did I not like?

  • I found the formatting of my NetGalley ARC to be a bit off, and I’m not sure if this is an issue only I have had or not (I have seen no other reviewers commenting on it). The text boxes are your standard high-resolution text boxes, but the actual artwork was a bit pixelated on my iPad Mini. I’m assuming this is something to do with NetGalley so I haven’t lowered the overall score of the comic, but might be something to check out if you’re interested in reading this.
  • The passage of time isn’t handled all that well. By no means was this an overbearing issue which stopped me from enjoying the story, but the passage from day to night (or indeed going from week-to-week) could definitely have been clearer.
    • There are a few very minor niggles which are somewhat related to the above. For example, if there is a predator who hunts its prey during the night, it needs to be clear that it is nighttime, otherwise the storytelling gets a little muddled. Again, this is a relatively minor comment, but worth making all the same.
  • The sense of urgency is similarly muddled, and I think that if you are being hunted by certain nasty monsters, then you probably wouldn’t make some of the decisions our main characters do. Not necessarily a huge issue, but the story would have benefitted by being more consistent in its tone.

A bit eh?

  • Right. My main gripe in this section is the name of the series; Alcyon. In this comic book, Phoebe (effectively our co-protagonist) plays a much more important role than Alcyon himself and is clearly both the more intelligent and brave of the two; why then is she not named in the title? This may be answered in future publications, but with such a small main cast I don’t understand why the title is simply ‘Alcyon‘.
    • Phoebe actually points out in the story that she is braver and smarter than Alcyon, and that there is no reason for him to believe that women are inferior – so why then is this subordination of the sexes here at all? Phoebe first makes her point very early in the story, so there isn’t even much space for true character development on Alcyon’s part as he learns that there is no reason to treat women differently to men.

In conclusion: 4.5/5 rounded to 4 where required. I really enjoyed this short comic book, even if it is clearly just setting up for a more action-packed story. It’s definitely worth a read if you’re interested in Greek myths or ancient history, and I will most definitely be reading its sequel, The Temptation of King Midas as soon as I can. I urge you to pick this up if you can.

2 thoughts on “Review: Harmony’s Necklace (Alcyon #1) – Richard Marazano and Christophe Ferreira (Illustrator)

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