Kazu Kibuishi’s Amulet Book One: The Stonekeeper is a great new book for juveniles and adults interested in anime/manga style storytelling with Japanese fantasy flavor. I was blown away by the pacing and the art, as the tale delivers a wonderfully delicious magical experience.
The overall plot is familiar. Emily and her brother Navin lose their father in a tragic accident, which the reader gets to see and has to endure the heartbreaking turn of events panel by panel. When their mother can no longer financially meet the needs of the family, she moves them to an old house that’s been in the family for centuries.
I wasn’t really excited by the plot. The events pretty much spin themselves out in the fashion that a confirmed fan of juvenile literature would imagine. Emily and Navin help their mom clean the house, then mom gets grabbed by a tentacled monster and taken away to an underground world no one ever knew was there before.
The thing that Kibuishi excels at is the pacing. He knows when to move the story along at a blistering pace, and when to slow things down to build in a major creep factor and dynamic suspense. The panels of seeing the spirit following everyone around was great because I kept expecting it to pounce at any time.
I really enjoyed Miskit and his giant armored suit. You have to be a kid at heart to suspend belief for this, but these kinds of stories always bring out my A game for believing in the fantastic. I also liked the technology that floats throughout the story because it’s realistic to a degree, yet very whimsical.
After Emily receives the Amulet, readers can predict that it will serve as a weapon to help her out of danger. However, it doesn’t always work, and that confounds me a little, making me want the sequel a little sooner because I love mysteries. But she goes off on the next leg of her adventure, digging even deeper into the strange world she and her little brother have suddenly found themselves in while trying save their mom.
The art is the primary point of enjoyment in this book. A lesser artist, or one striving for a more complicated finish, would have rendered a more compressed story, but that would have taken away so much of the narrative tension Kibuishi builds into the story. The Stonekeeper is a great book for imaginative kids or adults who refuse to completely put away their childhood.