Mystery abounds, but little satisfaction

Published: February 2 2014 | 7:00 am - Updated: 29 March 2014 | 3:02 am in

Charlaine Harris has sent Sookie Stackhouse and her vampire coterie into retirement, and the author has turned her attention to new projects. The first entry in a new graphic novel trilogy she is cowriting with best-selling author Christopher Golden was released in January. “Cemetery Girl: Book One: The Pretenders” (InkLit, $24.95) introduces a mysterious character, but doesn’t provide her with a fully satisfying story to inhabit.

The book, which features art by Don Kramer and colors by Daniele Rudoni, opens with an intense sequence that finds a young woman dumped in a cemetery. Her eyes pop open and her narration informs the reader, “I’m pretty sure I died. For, like, a minute at least. It’s hard to say how long, really. Hard to tell time when you’re dead, I guess.” Some comics readers will find this reminiscent of Terry Moore’s “Rachel Rising,” though Moore launched his ongoing series without any text in the opening scenes.

Harris and Golden’s protagonist can’t remember who she is, so she decides to hide out in the cemetery. She gives herself a new name — Calexa Rose Dunhill — drawn from the tombstones and the name of the cemetery. In short order, she finds herself possessed by the soul of a girl whose murder she witnesses.

Harris and Golden’s story is well supported by Kramer and Rudoni, particularly in the supernatural moments that allow the artists some creative latitude. The cemetery is always beautifully rendered. The plot’s details don’t entirely succeed, however, especially when it comes to the two adults who know about Calexa and help her, but not in the ways we naturally would expect them to. There also is a moment when the perspective shifts from Calexa’s point of view to that ally. It’s a distracting misstep.

Still, the book’s central mystery — who is Calexa and why was she left for dead — may bring readers back for the second installment.

Rob Cline is a writer and published author, marketing director for University of Iowa’s Hancher and director of literary events for New Bo Books, a division of Prairie Lights.

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