A sequestered little jaybird cares for his bedridden mother. He’s clearly terrified of his own shadow, but he’s a gentle soul; he hasn’t the heart to kill a spider he encounters in his home. The spider becomes a companion of sorts to the jaybird as he goes about his days at home – cleaning, dusting, taking care of his mother, and wondering why the windows are boarded up in his home.
He walks the halls of his obviously grand home, staring at the portraits of his ancestors, decorated military, and stares at his own empty, stained, shirt. One day, he asks his mother about the windows and what lies beyond; she tells him a story of war, and “bad birds” who would do them harm. They live quietly and cleanly to avoid the bad birds, and that’s the end of the discussion.
But one day, there’s a knock on the door. How will the little Jay deal with this intrusion of the outside world into his life?
Jaybird is an original graphic novel by Finnish siblings Lauri and Jaakko Ahonen, and it is fantastic. Fans of dark fantasy will be drawn in right away, and I’d recommend this to tweens and teens as well. The subject matter and some images may be too intense for younger readers.
The art is just breathtaking. The main character has the most beautifully expressive eyes; indeed, his whole face and body language communicates his every mood, fear, and thought. The images of war are gripping and stark, as is the moment when Jaybird confronts his fear on the other side of the door. I went through the book twice, just to look at the art a second time. Each page is a painting on its own; put together, this book is a gallery with a story. Just take a look at this artwork:
The story is sad, twisted, and at the end, communicates a sadness and a sense of loss – of childhood, of potential, of friendship. It’s a powerful book, and I want this one on my shelf next to my Fables and my Gaiman graphic novels.
Jaybird comes out this Wednesday. PLEASE pick this book up. You will not regret it. 5 out of 5 jaybirds.
Writer: Jaakko Ahonen
Publication Date: 9/3/2014