Book Reviews

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A Children’s Illustrated History of Presidential Assassination
Bryan L. Young
Illustrated by: Erin Kubinek and Scout Young
Silence in the Library
Street: 03.27
History usually has a bad rap of being a boring subject. It’s seen as a string of facts and dates that you need to memorize in order to pass a test. Some of it can be interesting—let’s be honest: The juicy bits are where people die. This book is all about one of the more intriguing parts of our history—presidential assassinations. It covers all of them, including the occasional, hilarious misfires. The book is a wealth of information about the major assassination attempts and the four completed assassinations. Since it’s meant to be a children’s book, it’s a really quick read, and it doesn’t drag on like most other history books, even though it’s a slew of facts just like history books. The illustrations add some humor to the pages, and the ones by the author’s daughter are adorable—they try to balance out the dry facts, but it’s not quite enough. For kids, it’s a great alternative to the textbooks on the subject if they want to know more about presidential assassinations. It’s a good way to brush up on the subject if you’re an adult—there’s plenty of new stuff to learn. –Ashley Lippert
Courtney Crumrin, Vol. 5: The Witch Next Door
by Ted Naifeh
Oni Press
Street: 04.30
In the fifth volume of Naifeh’s Eisner-nominated Courtney Crumrin series, our heroine comes face to face with the consequences of her past misadventures into the world of faeries and goblins.  These skeletons are yanked out of the closet with the arrival of another teenage outcast named Holly, who befriends Courtney to take advantage of her magical abilities.  The storyline between Courtney and Holly—which culminated with the two girls getting hunted through the woods by a pack of diabolical wolves—was definitely the book’s high point.  The subplot involving the Crumrin family’s complicated past provided a few interesting revelations about Courtney’s uncle Aloysius, but the story loses some of its charm when it’s not focused on Courtney’s unconventional navigation through adolescence.  Stylistically, Naifeh’s faeries and landscapes evoke the same medieval aesthetic that is reminiscent of Mike Mignola and Charles Vess—perfect for the twisted forests and moss-covered caverns that surround the Crumrin’s ancestral home.  As long as Courtney Crumrin is focused on its eponymous heroine, Naifeh’s occult coming of age tale is paranormal fun for the witch inside all of us.  –Alex Springer
Lost and Found: An Amy Devlin Mystery
Christina Weir, Nunzio DeFilippis and T.J. Kirsch
Oni Press
Street: 05.21
Lost and Found is the third volume in Christina Weir and Nunzio DeFilippis’ Amy Devlin series. Devlin is a private investigator living in Los Angeles and each stand-alone story involves a different case¬. This time around, it involves a nearly two-decades-old kidnapping, Hollywood power agents, the Life Science Institute of Hollywood (a Scientology stand-in), betrayal, secrets, corruption and power. Like the best private eye stories dating back to Raymond Chandler, solving one case usually just means finding the tip of a bigger iceberg. Devlin is a great, well-developed character, which is obvious even jumping right to the third book. Weir and DeFilippis write her with confidence and poise that comes through from the very beginning. The story never drags, but it might have been beneficial to let it slow down a bit. The writers have a tough time letting some of the smaller moments breathe, but that may have to do with the art. T.J. Kirsch isn’t a bad artist, but he may be a bad fit for this story. His newspaper strip style works well during the lighter moments, but he struggles when emotions are involved. Devlin constantly looks overwhelmed and a bit frightened, which doesn’t quite match the confidence that the authors impart to their character. –Trevor Hale