Sleepless: Vol. 1

illus. by Leila Del Duca & Alissa Sallah. 168p. Image. Jul. 2018. pap. $16.99. ISBN 9781534306844.
RedReviewStarGr 8 Up—Pyppenia, or Poppy, illegitimate daughter of the king of Harbeny, is the only living child of the monarch when he dies. Although the throne passes instead to her uncle Surno, Poppy is still the target of multiple assassination attempts. She's guarded by Cyrenic, an elite member of the Sleepless Order, a prestigious order of knights who vow never to sleep. When Surno orders Poppy to remain in Harbeny despite the attempts on her life, Poppy and Cyrenic set out to uncover who is trying to kill her while Cyrenic struggles with a life-changing dilemma. This riveting medieval fantasy is refreshing in its inclusion of people of color in a typically white European setting. The striking and sophisticated imagery evokes the creamy, floral designs of illuminated manuscripts, particularly surrounding chapter headings. Elsewhere, the subdued and occasionally dark color scheme is coupled with intricate line work and expressive characters. The story touches on themes of loyalty and greed, and there is plenty of trickery to engage readers, though Vaughn doesn't explain precisely how the Sleepless go without rest. There is also romantic tension, as well as minimal references to sex. A tantalizing cliff-hanger ending will leave readers eager for more.
VERDICT Teens interested in royal fantasies will revel in this lavish setting that pays homage to Arthurian literature. For all graphic novel collections.

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