Graveyard Wars: Vol. 1

Ablaze. Sept. 2020. 232p. Tr $24.99. ISBN 9781950912131; pap. $19.99. ISBN 9781950912148.
Gr 9 Up–Lieberman (Cowboy Ninja Viking; Batman: Gotham Knights) and Kwan (NEO: Blossoms) build a complex fantasy world existing within our own. Two white college-aged twins, Carter and Ethan, discover their magical legacy; near-death experiences give them the ability to tap into and use the “soul skills” of dead people. The twins find themselves caught between two battling groups of magic users, Caretakers and Dark Hearts, with different opinions of how this magical power should be used. Carter and Ethan must learn to master their skills and choose a side in a magical war amid betrayals in their own family. Even more so than with Mark Millar’s The Magic Order, readers are rarely given direct answers and often must deduce explanations for the magic system. Some mechanics of the plot, such as “safe soil,” are never fully explained, which may frustrate some readers. The cold blue and black palette is broken only by the occasional yellow sound effect or ghost, but every character is instantly recognizable (not an easy feat without full color). Because the magical powers are triggered by a near-death experience, there are several scenes of someone deliberately attempting to hurt themselves by hanging themselves and or being shot, making the book appropriate for older readers only.
VERDICT Mature readers who do not mind being kept in the dark will find this a fun action story.

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