August 26, 2013


Dear FCC: I received a review copy of this book from the publisher, First Second.

This week we're very excited to linger in the graphic novel arena, thanks to some help from Gina at First Second—she sent over a review copy of today's book, Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant (officially released tomorrow), and she also hooked us up with a guest post from author/illustrator Tony Cliff, which will go up on Wednesday, so check back for the story behind the story! (We're suckers for finding out how these gorgeous creations take shape behind the scenes.)

Reader Gut Reaction: If you like swashbuckling adventure, strong female protagonists, and plenty of outlandish mayhem, then Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant delivers in spades. I'm going to note right up front: don't expect a high level of realism except in the gorgeous setting details and some of the historical backdrop—in a sense, this is more like a fantasy in that a) you've got a globetrotting, independent female pirate/adventurer, and b) she has a flying sailboat. So, right off, you know this is about fun and whimsy and entertainment. Well, maybe not right off—we start from the point of view of the eponymous Turkish lieutenant, who lives a rather humdrum life and kind of likes it that way. He likes tea and conversation, not brawls and excitement, but he's going to get ALL of it when he runs across Delilah Dirk.

Concerning Character: It's the contrast between the two characters that makes this story constantly entertaining. Delilah gets into scrapes, the lieutenant helps her out of them; the lieutenant is decidedly not streetwise and lacks certain practical skills, but hanging with Delilah spurs a rather rapid education on his part. And, of course, as you might expect, he learns he kind of enjoys it after all. Delilah was such a intriguing and fun character, I found myself wanting more character depth on her part, but the lieutenant—who, after all, is really the narrator of the story—was clearly drawn and sympathetic. And, speaking of drawing, the artwork for this is truly a sumptuous feast for the eyes. I'm really not exaggerating—to me, it's the visuals that make the book shine. It's in full color, but makes excellent use of a muted palette to convey the feel of the historical time period.

Recommended for Fans Of...: Graphic novel adventures with a historical component, like Prince of Persia (reviewed here) or the Crogan series (reviewed here).

Themes & Things: Although I'd say this one focuses more on story than theme, the one thread that really stands out is the idea of unlikely friendships, and how much we can get out of those strange matchups. You wonder what you could possibly have in common, but then you realize there's also something extraordinary about having friendships that bring something new into your life, something unexpected and crazy and fun. And that might just be the cure to the loneliness you didn't know you had, or the boredom that crept in when you weren't looking.

You can find Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant by Tony Cliff online or at an independent bookstore near you!

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