This first volume of a story first published in 2004, abet with a different illustrator, plays with the trope of physically entering the world of story. As a young child Aeslin Flinn was read stories by her parents about the grand adventures in the fantasy land of Avalon. The death of her father, however, led to her mother’s refusal to read the stories or talk about them. Years later, a “chance” meeting in a book store offers the now fourteen-year-old Aeslin a sequel to that book of tales, Once in a Blue Moon, and the realization that the stories were much more than figments of an author’s imagination. Reading herself into the story, Aeslin soon discovers her destiny as a Dragon Knight, her parents’ roles in this storybook world, and the fact that her father may not be dead after all.
Being frequently transported between the world of Avalon and that of her more familiar one is fraught with confusion, danger and anxiety for Aeslin but offers the reader an engaging and exciting introduction to this series. Themes of friendship, both with earth-bound (so far, anyways) Aeslin’s best friend Samantha and Avalon-situated author Will Redding who pens the Avalon story as it occurs, complicated parent-child relationships with Aeslin’s mother in both worlds as well as assorted family members in Avalon, and the weight of responsibility permeate this first volume of the series.
Not being familiar with the first rendition of this story illustrated by Jennifer Quick, I cannot comment on any changes that may have taken place in the intervening years since its first appearance, also by Oni Press. Emma Vieceli’s black and white illustrations, emulating a manga style frequently including chibi style images, also offers a more realistic illustrative style when architectural elements have a role in either world. Vieceli paces the story well with strong lines, easily recognizable characters and movement, ending on a promissory note of more action to follow.
Reviewed from an advanced reader copy (ARC).