Book Review: Lights
The finale to Brenna Thummler's Sheets series is as graceful as ever
Things were never quite the same for Marjorie Glatt after she met Wendell. That's because Wendell is a ghost. A sweet, imaginative boy, he appears to Marjorie and her (human) best friend Eliza in a traditional sheet, complete with requisite eye holes. Eliza, a photographer obsessed with the paranormal, is so focused on Wendell's afterlife that it becomes a detriment to her more "normal" relationships. Marjorie, on the other hand is trying to balance her older friends with some newer ones, Sid and Sasha, much to the chagrin of Eliza.
Moving from birthday parties to haunted hotels to ice skating rinks, Marjorie finds herself at the fictional Lake Erie Academy of Dance (LEAD). There, clues surrounding Wendell's death begin to surface. When a mysterious fellow ghost hunter, Tierney Keller, steps onto the scene, things really start unraveling.
Interspersed with wistful flashbacks to Wendell's human life, his story takes center stage. The three graphic novels, Sheets, Delicates, and Lights all center around one main character and an aspect of their lives that serves as an extended metaphor. For Sheets, it was Marjorie and laundry, for Delicates, it was Eliza and photography, and for Lights, it's Wendell and dance. Theater serves as a running motif throughout the book, with characters drawing their own symbolism from the stage within the text itself.
Thummler's abilities both as an illustrator and an author are working beautifully in tandem here. She is able to let the characters (and readers) breathe when they need to, be drawn in when necessary, and be so expertly clear in her graphic storytelling that thousands of important details are filled in to go along with the dialog.
Set in a fictional town along Lake Erie, Thummler's gorgeously lush illustrations will conjure up rich memories of growing up, no matter what age you are. With visual references to Geneva on the Lake, her hometown of Meadville, and more, Thummler's work is loaded with familiar scenery and detailed winter vistas. Her color palette maintains the settling pastels of its predecessors.
This entire trilogy is highly recommended for anyone interested in comics, ghosts, or making friends. It's a touching conclusion to a fully realized world and a set of unique characters that you'll be sad to leave, but happy to have met. It's a quick read at 360 pages (the longest of the series) but one that's meant to be savored. Expertly paced and lovingly crafted, Lights could not be more perfect for the season.
Oni Press // 360 pages // Comics, Paranormal, Young Adult