God Save The Queen – graphic novel review

An unusual faerie story with surly teenagers bearing drug problems, features in Carey & Bolton's graphic novel...

writer: Mike Careyartist: John BoltonPublisher: Titan Books (£7.99, paperback)

When worlds collide, they can produce interesting offspring – especially when the realms of Faerie and human meet. It’s an area of infinite possibilities, as explored by Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman, as well as related books such as Lucifer, The Dreaming , The Books of Magic and in traditional folklore and fairy tales. Of course, Faeries have also featured in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream too and it’s Titania and Puck who are amongst the cast of Mike Carey’s God Save The Queen.

Carey once again demonstrates his formidable skills at creating modern fairy tales in which Faerie rivalries spill over into our world – in this case, North London, which already has its fair share of fabulous creatures. His heroine is Linda, a rebellious teenager dismissive of her divorced mother and taking advantage of her best friend Jeff.

Linda’s recklessness leads her into a fateful meeting with the mysterious Verian, who introduces her to a new drug, Red Horse. However, the more involved she becomes, the more she gets drawn into the long-standing cvil war between Queen Titania and her predecessor, Mab.More significantly, she discovers the shocking truth about her own mother and indeed, her own heritage as a changeling…

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Carey roots his story in the recognisable everyday without being drawn into specifics. With headstrong Linda, he introduces a teenage outsider who’s always kicking back against the system and proving herself to be selfish, impulsive and convinced of her own indestructibility.

Ultimately the circumstances force her to re-examine her own behaviour as the noble spirit of justice breaks through. Carey allows his characters to weave between our world and Faerie, constructing an adult fairy tale that is part nightmare, part social drama, full of darkness and wonder.

The story is beautifully rendered by John Bolton’s painterly illustrations, which suggest a world that wavers between half-imagined dreams and reality. His fantastical beings and the humans have a truly expressive physicality to them without a dependence on painstaking detail.

Bolton’s work has too infrequently graced comics and graphic novels, so it’s wonderful to see his craftsmanship hasn’t deserted him – full page drawings depict half-waking dreams, bleeding fleshy reality with an eerie otherworldliness…

God Save The Queen explores the shady world beyond the mind’s eye, offering a glimpse of the seamier side of London and opening a demon-infested window into an eternal realm that slips between the shadows of our daily lives. A mesmerising experience from the imagineer of modern mythology.

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4 out of 5