Sunday, 16 April 2017

The War at Ellsmere by Faith Erin Hicks Review


Juniper wins a scholarship to the prestigious Ellsmere Academy boarding school but soon finds herself at odds with the rich toff girls who see poor people as entertainment. The war between Jun and the Ellsmere mean girl posse begins! 

The War at Ellsmere is yet another fantastic Faith Erin Hicks original! She’s so good at writing believable, real characters that are effortlessly likeable. Jun is wonderful - a headstrong, clever and fiercely independent hero (think Daria but more vulnerable) - as is her roommate, the mousy Cassie (who reminded me a lot of Daisy from Giant Days), who develops over the course of the book from a meek and shy lonely girl into someone more confident and forceful. 

The book doesn’t have the most original story and the drama plays out fairly predictably but because the characters are so well realised, you’re with them for the whole ride and the to-ing and fro-ing between Jun and Emily was more than enough to keep me invested. The magical realist finale was a brilliant touch and took the story to the next level. Hicks’ black and white manga-esque art is very charming and expressive too. 

All that said about the characters, the one critique I’d make is that Emily, the head mean girl, comes off as a bit too one dimensional. She’s a villainous cardboard cut-out rather than a character we get to know, let alone understand her motivations and behaviour. I guess some kids are just lil fuckers but there’s usually a reason and there wasn’t one here. She‘s very underwritten. 

Still, it’s a minor criticism and for the most part I really enjoyed The War at Ellsmere. Like everything by this super-talented creator, it’s a quality, well-written comic full of humour, heart and superb characters - definitely worth a look for Hicks and indie comics fans!

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