Some days I just cannot get into reading (and you know I like to read). And when that happens I take a break from reading. This happened recently, and when I came back to it, I found the graphic novel, The Keeper by Tananarive Due and Steven Barnes. I was not sure what I would be reading about. It was not giving away secrets: there is a girl on the cover; some designs look like it could be a combination of adventure and maybe fantasy. Reading the jacket flap, there was going to be horror, too. Ooookay, how bad can it be? I’ve read some interesting things of late.
As I went along, it was mostly quick reading. Things are pushed by the illustrations of Marco Finnegan as much as the text of Due and Barnes. In fact, it starts off with no text at all. Then, as you get into things, you realize that this book has two layers: the surface (a girl living with her grandmother after the death of her parents, with a supernatural twist) and then the deeper one of family biological and found. There is something for most readers, but not all readers will enjoy. Between the art and text, it becomes a psychological thriller.
The art is muted, dark, even the reds can be not as bright. But there is also the use of color when needed. It is not something to rush through. You need to read the illustrations. Due to the black, brown, gray colors, the darkness and the shadows of the images, things are hard to sometimes see. And while they are not “ugly” or “gross” they are disturbing. Our main character has some rough edges to her despite her youth; the grandmother might not be all there and that is reflected in her face; and the fact that there is a monster lurking in the shadows, well, you have some creepy images it casts.
In the end, take from it what you will. There are a few subjects due to your own biases, and needs, you will come away with something I did not. Of course, strong teens could do it, but I wouldn’t go younger than 13-14, unless they are a strong, not overly sensitive reader. But I’d say this is more for adults.