By Dustin Cabeal
It’s not often that I read a graphic novel that I truly dislike. Unfortunately, A Castle in England is one such graphic novel. I can appreciate what it was attempting to do, but ultimately the end product was one that ended up being dull and reparative.
First and foremost, this is a historical fiction. If that’s not your cup of tea, then you should pass instantly on this book. There are multiple stories, each featuring different creators. The tales capture a different walk of life over England’s history. They are often bloody moments or just depressing situations in general. There is a lead in story before each tale and then a history lesson of sorts after the end of the story.
The issue with the stories is that they’re focused heavily on history, and so almost all of the stories have poor endings. There’s also no real connection between them, and so it’s just a series of randomly fitted stories that all have the same general theme. The dialogue is the best part of the writing because it’s at least believable and natural reading. There was one and only one story that I enjoyed about a smuggler that I enjoyed. It was perfectly paced until the end. The ending was rushed and broke the style of the rest of the story. Even with liking it, it still managed to disappoint.
The artwork was the only thing that kept me reading. I gave up on the history lessons towards the end of the book which helped with my enjoyment some, but it was the art that made the journey somewhat worthwhile. It was nice to see a variety of styles take on different tales. They’re all done in black and white with a red color scheme that unites all the stories. Overall, the artists were a nice discovery, and I hope to see several of them again.
For some, there will be a lot of things that they enjoy about this book. For others like myself, it was a challenge to make it through because of the overall structure of the book. The stories are on the weaker side, but then the reading experience is broken up by walls of text that only appeal to people specifically interested in this era of history. I enjoy reading about history, but historical comics continue to fall flat in my opinion. By having the real history follow the fictional story, it invalidated the story, which was the entire reason to read the book.
A Castle in England
Writer: Jamie Rhodes
Publisher: Nobrow Press