October 19, 2018
Ghost Queen opens on a young witch and her literal knight in shining armour in the middle of a quest. They’re making their way through some dark and spooky caves, and come across a giant Ghost Queen who they engage in battle. The knight quickly gets his butt kicked, and the witch has to use her magic to save them.
Then, just as soon as we stumbled across this scene, the comic jumps ahead to what looks like the present day. That same young witch and her knight are a little bit older now, happily married, and parents to two daughters. The jump is a bit unexpected and abrupt, and being the fantasy fan that I am, I was initially disappointed the comic doesn’t stay in the quest timeline. But the presence and personality of the two daughters, especially the youngest, soon won me over to the change of time and place.
The youngest daughter has awakened to find a leak in her ceiling and is sharing that information with her family over the breakfast table—the picture of a normal family morning. Except her dad, on his way out of town for the weekend, begs her not to tell her mom because she’ll try and fix it with magic. Which from past experiences (a goblin infestation is mentioned) he knows will only cause them more problems.
Later, when the girls get home from school they find their mom rushing out for an emergency yoga retreat, leaving the older sister in charge for the night. This is where the comic started to lose me a little bit. It seemed like a such an odd way to get the parents out of the picture for the rest of the story. If the older sister is responsible enough to take care of her younger sister, why not make it a planned yoga retreat? And if it is to make the mom seem a bit eccentric, it feels redundant with the dad’s earlier reaction to the leak in the ceiling.
The girls and their friend (who is an anthropomorphic frog) soon settle in for an adult-free night of scary movies and pizza, but before long they hear some spooky noises going from upstairs. Already a little nervous from the movie, they head up to investigate and stumble across the ghosts. Their upstairs is overrun with a number of small ghosts that they try and fight off until they find the source: the same Ghost Queen from the beginning of the book.
I enjoyed the way this part of the story mirrored their parents earlier quest. They’re facing off against the same foe and end up turning to the weapons of their parents as well. The youngest daughter has the helmet and sword of their father, and the older sister uses their mother’s spell book, and they work together just like their parents did on their own adventure.
Ghost Queen is a comic with heart and easy to settle and enjoy. It’s fun and charming, and full of brightly coloured, high energy artwork. It features a loving mixed-race family and a pair of sisters who genuinely like each other and have to work together to save the day. It would have been nice, however, to have a little more exposition and world building.
The reader is thrown right into the story with very little introduction, and because it’s quite short very few questions are answered. And some of those questions, like the emergency yoga retreat, still nag at me in the back of my mind. Things like, what was everyone’s name? And why was their friend a frog? The length of this comic is perfect for younger readers (especially some more reluctant readers), but the writing could be just a bit tighter, with a few quick, to the point details thrown in to make this a really well-rounded fantasy adventure.