Can you like and dislike a book at the same time? I say yes, as the graphic novel Courtney Crumrin and the Night Things (Courtney Crumrin, #1) by Ted Naifeh is exactly that. And due to that, I am not really sure I want to explore the rest of the books in the various Courtney Crumrin series. Unless, there is a collection of everything…. Well a girl can dream right?
There is really nothing likable about any of the characters, even Courtney who we follow through her days. She and her parents have moved to her great-uncle’s home (or is it her father’s great-uncle? Or her grandfather’s great-uncle…?) as he is infirm and needs help. Of course, Courtney’s clueless, social-climbing parents are not noticing that Uncle Aloysius is anything but feeble. And neither is Courtney, who has a habit of getting herself into trouble, but just as large of a talent of getting herself out of it as well. After all, there are only so many times a girl can face a child-eating-goblin without learning a trick or two. Not to mention her uncle’s study of unique books and Courtney’s love of reading.
There are bumps in the flow of the story, the black and white illustrations give off spooky vibes that border on disturbing occult. It could be set anytime really (from 1960s to early 2000s), and set almost anywhere. (The book I read was a 2003 edition.) Though the tone of the setting fluctuated between an European setting (someplace in England or Scandinavia) and/or either a New York state, Connecticut, or Massachusetts setting. SPOILER: Sometimes the “good guys” do not win, but then again, are there any real “good guys?”
The magical and fantasy elements can be intense (goblins eating children, changelings, love potions and doppelgangers) as is the lack of adult supervision for the kids of this town (at least one family hires a babysitter, even if it is Courtney). Adults and older teen readers will pick up on some of the subtleties, while the younger crowd (at least 12 and up, though I am sure kids today have seen and/or read a lot worse) will mostly pick up the surface story. The biggest issue I have with the edition I read (from 2017 ISBN: 9781620104194) is that it is part of a series, but there are several different series out there, and I am not sure which goes with witch, I mean which.