Like me, you’re probably wondering how to pronounce the title of this book. Luckily, it’s very easy and explained before the story begins. Geis is Gaelic and pronounced “Gesh.” It’s also a curse, but a curse with very specific terms. You’re not cursed to death per se, but you can definitely ignore the geis and find yourself on deaths door. About five pages into Geis I knew that this was going to be a larger story. That this was just the first volume of a possible many to come. Which was fine because the stage that is set is incredibly interesting.
The ruler of the land has died and with no heir she has offered up her role as leader to anyone that feels they are fit. No one knows how the next leader will be picked, but they’re all summoned to her chambers upon her death. With hardly a regard for her death, they begin asking what’s going on, but first they must sign the will. We meet a few characters that seem key to the story and a young girl that doesn’t know why she’s there. She didn’t sign up and thinks that her parents might have signed her up to get her out of the house.
Soon a spirit erupts from the dead leader and takes control of a different body that also looks like a corpse. She informs the group gathered that a contest will be held to determine the next leader and that the first test is knowing the land and finding your way back to the castle. After that, everyone is teleported to different parts of the kingdom and given the deadline of returning by sunrise.
It all seems rather simple until two characters arrive at the castle ahead of everyone else and are given a reward of the truth and a geis to prevent them from sharing that truth with the others. What is this dark game and who will play and who will learn the truth the hard way?
The pacing for Geis never slows. Much like the characters, we’re unable to stop and catch our breath. We have to keep going and going to keep up with them and it’s wonderful. The things I didn’t reveal are what drive the story and make it extremely interesting, but what’s better is the characters.
The characters, especially our main character. She begins the story not understanding why she’s there, but by the last page you as the reader will know. Even if she doesn’t see her development as a character, you will see it. Because this is a dark story though it’s hard to say that it will have a happy ending. That it will all be okay at the end. That she won’t change so significantly that the character we’re enjoying and rooting for here, will be much different in the end. Of the fifty characters the story sets up, we only see a few, but their development is also rich. As supporting cast, they are useful to the plot and since they don't know the fate that awaits them... well, it makes it even more interesting to see what’s going to happen to them.
The artwork is wonderful. It’s all water colored from what I can tell and it’s gives it a wonderful visual tone. It’s creepy and yet picturesque. There’s plenty of magic and fantasy creatures that populate the world making it feel alive and untamed. There’s some action as well which was easy to follow. Overall the art is full of personality and drives the narrative in equal parts with the dialogue.
I am already patiently, or not so patiently, waiting for the next chapter of Geis. It’s a clear vision of one storyteller that captures your attention as much as it captures your imagination. The cherry on the top is that I would recommend this to the young and the old or new and established readers. It’s a story that can reach a wide audience.
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Geis: A Matter of Life & Death Creator: Alexis Deacon Publisher: Nobrow Press Price: $18.95 Format: Hardcover; Print