This month we’ve seen two fantastic new books from Irish creator Leonie O’Moore appear on ComiXology. Invoked, a period piece about a family moving into a mysterious new house. And Don’t Fall, a fantastical fairytale about a brother and sister in peril. So rather than review them in isolation we thought we’d take a look at them both, and see how the two compare.
Invoked (Misrule Comics)
For her follow up to Lord and Double Dead, Leonie O Moore has created a really interesting period ghost story that feels a bit like Joe Hill’s Locke and Key mixed with classic kids book, The Secret Garden. It’s all about a family who move into the house of a recently deceased aunt, only to find it is occupied by talking birds and other strange characters, who need the daughters of the family to help them return to heaven as angels. But do these mysterious beings all have the best intentions?
Like O’Moore’s other work, Invoked has a very slow and deliberate pace with a feeling much more reminiscent of a classic piece of Edwardian fiction than a contemporary comic. We see familiar tropes such as the kids exploring a house while the parents are nowhere to be seen, and of course the fact that the adults don’t believe them even when things go wrong, as a familiar central premise for the story. However it also has a contemporary Neil Gaiman-esque tone to it as well, with deceitful characters who give Invoked a haunting quality and a real sense of menace throughout.
All this is brought to life by O’Moore’s beautiful pencilled artwork. Unlike the technicolour splashes of Double Dare she is back in the more traditional softer style of Lord, which fits the tone perfectly, giving the period setting a delicate edge, especially with the subtle use of colour. With Invoked being a one shot the story resolves rather quickly and without capitalising on the sense of threat that begins to develop half way through that never really gets developed further. However when we spoke to Leonie recently she hinted at it being the first part of a wider story, which we hope comes to fruition. Even if it doesn’t, Invoked is still a very charming, yet creepy read and another great offering from a really interesting creator.
Don’t Fall (Misrule Comics)
In stark contrast to the gothic horror of Invoked, Leonie’s other new book Don’t Fall is a fantasy tale set in a mountain based realm which is divided up into three sections – highlands, lowlands and midlands – with the main rule in life being don’t fall, or else’s a fiery death will ensue (as happens to a poor goat on the opening page). It feels almost Pratchett-esque at times (especially with its limited setting and use of societal rules) so when a brother and sister manage to break that commandment and topple off the edge they find themselves on a rocky outcrop and the sister must go off through the other stages in order to allow them to survive. It’s a beautifully sweet and very poignant tale, that although is set in a fantastical realm has none of the fantasy tropes and cliches we’d expect. Instead it is a very human drama that has a very poignant finale which tugs at the heart strings perfectly.
Leonie’s painterly style works perfectly for this book, using a bright colour scheme along with generous watercolour strokes to create a beautiful fantasy land that feels very different to Leonie’s other worlds, with it being much less dark and foreboding. Although stylistically it feels most like Double Dead, it ends up being much more all ages thanks to it’s family friendly story and so is much more accessible as a result.
The story is fairly succinct and doesn’t expand much on the world or develop the characters in too much detail, but that is OK as we learn about them through actions rather than words. Although it is a one shot and it works perfectly as a kind of allegorical fairy story, like Invoked, it could also work well as a precursor to a larger world. Leonie has definitely got a knack for telling stories in this genre and this is a really charming and endearing story that showcases another really different type of story-telling for her, but one we hope she continues.