personaldemonsThere’s something nasty brewing on the island of Hopeless, Maine, which is cut off from the rest of the world and trapped in darkness. As more and more people disappear every day, there may be something sinister going on that cannot be blamed on the island’s witches and demons. When a witch discovers a strange child, abandoned and traumatized, she takes the girl to an orphanage. Unfortunately, Salamandra doesn’t fit in well with the other children, and soon she is plagued by her own “personal demon” in the form of a little girl that no one else can see. Is this new presence a friend, a ghost, or something else altogether?

There are two plots in Hopeless, Maine: Personal Demons: the story of Salamandra and her parents, which may be connected to greater events on the island, and Salamandra’s struggle with her personal demon. Atmospheric language and dark hints touch upon the first of these plots; presumably we’ll find out more about what’s going on in Hopeless, Maine in the next book. This volume focuses on Salamandra, her relationship with a girl who claims to be her friend, and how she develops the courage to accept her power and make her own decisions.

The art is dark and brooding. In keeping with the plot, everything happens in the murkiness of night with a little extra fog, and there seem to be hidden images within the plentiful shadows of every picture. The characters range from hollow-eyed children with misty bodies to gaunt adults with stringy hair and glaring stares. Here and there glowing eyes and magic powers flare within the darkness, only to be extinguished once again by the gloom.

My immediate thought was to compare this book to Ted Naifeh’s Courtney Crumrin. Both stories feature powerful young girls who are cast out and neglected, the gathering of mysterious dark forces, and hidden motives for many of the characters. However, Hopeless, Maine: Personal Demons has a much darker feel, due in part to its gothic art, ghosts, and the implication that many of the characters are not merely secretive, but evil as well.

If you have a lot of teens who are fans of Courtney Crumrin or gothic literature in general, this would be a good addition to your library. Otherwise, this book will have limited appeal to graphic novel readers in general.

Hopeless, Maine: Personal Demons
by Nimue Brown
Art by Tom Brown
ISBN: 9781936393572
Archaia, 2012
Publisher Age Rating: Teens, ages 12 and up

  • Jennifer

    | She/Her Youth Services Librarian, Matheson Memorial Library


    Jennifer Wharton is the Youth Services Librarian at Matheson Memorial Library in Elkhorn, Wisconsin where she maintains the juvenile and young adult graphic novel collections and was responsible for creating the library’s adult graphic novel collection. She is constantly looking for great new comics for kids and teens and new ways to incorporate graphic storytelling in programming. Jennifer blogs for preschool through middle grade at JeanLittleLibrary and has an MLS from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

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