Glister by Andi Watson. Dark Horse Books, 2017. 9781506703190. 302pp.
This is an omnibus edition of four shorter graphic novels originally published by Walker Books back in 2009 and 2010: Glister: The Haunted Teapot, Glister: The House Hunt, Glister: The Faerie Host, and Glister: The Family Tree. I’m a huge fan of Andi Watson’s graphic novels for kids (Princess Decomposia, Gum Girl) and adults (Little Star, Love Fights), but somehow failed to connect with this series when it was first published. Having all the books in one volume seems to have made all the difference — they’re excellent.
Glister Butterworth is a fearless, friendly little girl who lives in Chilblain Hall with her father and, well, others. Strange things happen around her, her world is full of ghosts and creatures and faeries, and her house is somehow alive (and moody). In the first book, her supernatural adventures are far more fun than freaky. The teapot is haunted by the ghost of a terrible author who runs her ragged when she helps him finish a novel. In the second, after being insulted, Chilblain Hall’s mood is in the dumps. Glister tries (and fails) to cheer it up, so it leaves. She sets off to find it. The third book opens with Chilblain Hall getting a new neighbor, Faerieland, and a new visitor, Glister’s missing mother, who she talks with in her mirror. Glister will, of course, have to set off into Faerieland to rescue her. Luckily she has the magic hoodie her mother made for her when she was a child. In the fourth, the Butterworth Family Tree blooms, and to Glister’s delight, several of the relatives she’s only seen in portraits around the Hall come to visit. Her delight doesn’t last long and the visits may cost her and her father their home.
Watson’s style is more cartoony than realistic, and it has a sketchy, hand-inked feel that gives his stories an energy lacking in many kids’ graphic novels. Each of the stories is reproduced using a single color, which seems to highlight his talents. It’s the perfect way to create a world in which the supernatural is present but isn’t too threatening.