Mage and the Endless Unknown
by SJ Miller
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Pub Date 29 Aug 2023 | Archive Date 19 Sep 2023
Letter Better Publishing Services, Iron Circus Comics
"Phenomenal." — KIRKUS Starred Review
"Beautiful and terrifying." — BOOKLIST Starred Review
"Unusual and unforgettable." — FOREWORD
Peek through the leaves, beyond the clouded mountains, and you will find a garden with a strange attendant and an even stranger purpose. A young mage, asleep in a meadow, wakes to delights and fanciful spells that open a door to unknown wonder. Then, they eagerly step through to find only horror and death. There is no swashbuckling adventure in store; this world means them cold and deadly harm, and they’ll need all their resilience, wit, and magic to push it back.
Gaze through fascinating silent windows into a terrifying dimension and follow the wordless Mage and their companions as they travel a shadowy fantastical land of monsters. Will they survive this endlessly curious mystery, or will the unforgiving darkness swallow them whole?
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 41 members
...what did I just read? Based on the cover, I thought it was going to be a cutesy graphic novel about a little gnome trying to grow flowers or something. To be fair it was..for the first page then, BAM! - freaky monsters and lots of gore. I felt just as damaged and beat up as the Mage by the end of the story. Despite the unexpected horror of the book, it was a fantastic read! Gorgeous illustrations with a harrowing story. Its like if "Over the Garden Wall" has Junji Ito had a love child. Truly fantastical and horrifying.
This stunning graphic novel tells a story of a wondering mage and their adventures. But with almost no words. And yet there is no trouble follow the young mage and his companions and all the gruesome and horror they come across. The artwork was beautiful and such a contrast to the nature of the story. I was enthralled until the very end.
Thank you to NetGalley and Letter Better Publishing Services for the eARC in exchange for an honest review.
This graphic novel starts as what seems to be an adorable adventure story about a wholesome mage, but takes a horrifying turn. The young mage is sent out on a journey into a world of monsters and other kinds of terrifying creatures. They find a companion on the way, and brave this terrifying new place together as they discover the dark and horrifying secrets of this world.
The story is mostly wordless, but the greyscale illustrations convey the story well on their own, and I almost feel like if there was color it would be TOO terrifying to look at. Fans of Emily Carrol's Through the Woods will enjoy this.
Mage and the Endless unknown is a quiet, poetic lullaby. But not the sweet kind, that sends you to sleep. The spooky kind that lulls you into a false sense of security so that the creeping, unknown horrors hiding behind every corner become all the more horrifying when they invade your dreams. The way it never quite feels like either a picture book, or a graphic novel, but rather something new and in between adds to the experience of walking the tightrope between sweet and scary.
This is a stunningly gorgeous, deeply moving, almost entirely wordless heartwarming horror-fantasy. It bends so many genres, and the creature and character designs are so, so beautiful (and disturbing), from the Mari Lwyd-style mentor to the main character to the many antagonists that crop up along the way. The overall message is fairly simple but poignant as well. Highly recommended.