Book Review: Porcelain: A Gothic Fairy Tale
Plot: Set within a world that’s a darkly magical echo of our own, “Porcelain” follows the story of a street urchin, known as Child, who leaves the cold streets of a snowy city behind when she climbs the high wall into the Porcelain Maker’s secret garden in a bid to steal whatever she can. The Porcelain Maker discovers Child trespassing but, amused by her audacity, he offers her the chance to stay. He’s a lonely man, kept company only by his alchemically-powered automata, and he and Child form an unlikely friendship.
My Thoughts: I’ve been a dedicated comic book reader most of my life, I enjoy both independent and mainstream titles alike spanning through all brands. However, after nearly 18 years of reading various comic titles on a weekly bases I have found it incredibly difficult to encounter something original or hasn’t been told a million and one times already. Some plotlines can be seen coming a mile away. Even my most beloved titled have become somewhat predictable. However, this is not the case with Porcelain: A Gothic Fairy Tale. Written by Benjamin Read and Artwork by Chris Wildgoose.
Porcelain is a hauntingly beautiful story about two lonely souls unexpectedly find companionship and unconditional love in each other. The story follows a young street urchin known as Child, a young girl who braves to climbs a high wall of a gated mansion to loot the home of a porcelain maker who happens to be a skilled alchemist capable of bringing his creations to life. When Child is discovered in his secret garden she quickly charms her way out of trouble. Without either one of them knowing it, they both are taking the first step in finding the one thing they’ve been missing in their life. For Child; the father she never had. And for the Porcelain maker; the unconditional love only a child can give. Much in the same vein as the classic musical Annie, the two take a great liking to each other and become inseparable. The Porcelain maker makes Child his ward and teaches her how to read, learn proper manners, and teach her everything there is about alchemy. While Child brings warmth and happiness to the old man’s heart, something which has been absent for a very long time. However, the old Porcelain maker has only one rule, and a strict rule it is: Never go into his sealed workshop.
One of my favorite scenes in the story takes place a little ways in, after Child brings joy and happiness into the Porcelain maker’s life, he rewards her kindness by reviving the lush beauty of his secret garden. He then tells her that she has “brought summer back to my life, and this is my thank you”, tears begin to run down her eyes, because this is the most beautiful thing the likes of her has ever seen, and now it was all hers to enjoy… as the story progresses it takes a shocking, and somewhat disturbing twist towards the middle that was completely unexpected but without a doubt captivating and page turning.
Benjamin Read’s story is undoubtedly enchanting, within the first couple pages I found myself deeply taken by the story. There is a certain allure to it that eerily echoes the works of Neil Gaiman and Mike Mignola with an inspirational touch of the Grimm fairy tales. Read knows his audience and knows how to captivate them in his writing, giving Porcelain the perfect combination of sweet innocence and dark Goth. And his writing is further complimented by Chris Wildgoose’s frightfully beautiful artwork that captures Read’s story so flawlessly. It’s as clear as daylight that Read and Wildgoose’s writing and artwork go hand in hand. The chemistry in their joint work is fluent and brings a certain level of finesse and quality. I look forward to seeing what this duo will hash out next.
Final Say: Porcelain: A Gothic Fairy Tale is the first graphic novel by Improper Books, and what a choice to go with their debut. They say that their first action is the stepping stone for what is to come, well if that is the case then it is apparently clear that Improper Books has a bright and shining future in store for them as Porcelain: A Gothic Fairy Tale is a wonder to behold. I highly recommend!