In a world where the sun is gone and people live with huge artificial lights in the sky, Beatrice (Bea) helps her adoptive grandfather, Alfrid the Pig Wizard, run his potion shop in the forest. The Pig Wizard is old and forgetful, but skillful and kind, and took in Bea when she was a baby. One day, while Bea is off gathering ingredients for potions, her grandfather disappears, leaving behind a note that he needs to check the Seal of the Restless Sleeper. It’s the same day that Bea encounters Cadwallader (Cad), who claims to be a Galdurian: a frog-like group of beings Bea was convinced had been gone for 500 years. Cad needs Alfrid’s help to translate a Galdurian document, so the two team up to search for the Pig Wizard and to figure out what exactly he’s gone off to do.

The Girl & the Galdurian is book one of the Lightfall series, and focuses around Bea and Cad’s journey to find Bea’s grandfather. Along the way, they encounter various dangers and other creatures that inhabit the fantasy world they live in. Bea learns that Cad is searching for his people, the Galdurians, after having fallen asleep in a cave as a child and woken up hundreds of years later to find them gone. Bea also learns that the Jar of Endless Flame, a magic jar entrusted to her by her grandfather, may be more than what it seems. As the first book in the series, The Girl & the Galdurian builds the world and establishes a larger threat that the two heroes will have to contend with in future volumes.

I found this book enjoyable though somewhat predictable. It draws upon a number of tropes and elements of typical fantasy quest stories, but is limited in the unique ideas it offers. The characters seemed a little flat and underdeveloped, though they may be explored further in later books. The comic has the beginnings of interesting world-building, but I’m not sure there was enough in this one volume to really grab me. That said, it’s easy to see how this comic might appeal to middle grade readers who may be less demanding of the writing than adult readers, and may enjoy seeing familiar tropes and concepts. The characters do have charm, and the world of Irpa has potential to become expansive and intriguing with more detail and exploration.

One element that stood out in a positive way was the depiction of Bea’s anxiety. In a number of tense moments, rather than charging forward like a more traditional hero, Bea finds darkness closing in on her. Her heart thumps, she gasps for air, and she is surrounded by negative and accusatory thoughts. Even when not consumed by an episode of panic, Bea tends to be wary, nervous, and uncertain. Though it’s never explicitly stated in the text, it seems fair to assume that Bea has an anxiety disorder of some sort. Despite these challenges, she perseveres and remains strong through the many fear-inducing encounters on her quest. It’s rare to see mental illness portrayed so straightforwardly and without judgement in fantasy, and there will certainly be readers who appreciate and relate to this aspect of the comic.

The art of the book is both cute and lively, and stood out to me personally more than the story. The level of detail in clothing and settings contributes to the development of the world, including many expansive Tolkien-esque landscapes. The colors are excellent and well suited to creating the mood. Overall, Probert does a fantastic job with creating appealing and interesting visuals to carry the reader along Bea and Cad’s journey.

The publisher suggests Lightfall for fans of stories like Star Wars and Amulet. I was also reminded in some ways of the 5 Worlds series. Though it’s not the most original, the comic has good things to offer, and will likely be enjoyed by middle grade readers who like epic fantasies, quests, and adventures in new and interesting worlds. 

Lightfall: The Girl & the Galdurian 1
By Tim Probert
ISBN: 9780062990471
Harper Alley, 2020
Publisher Age Rating: 8-12

Title Details and Representation
NFNT Age Recommendation: Middle Grade (7-11), Tween (10-13)
Character Traits: Anxiety

  • Sharona Ginsberg

    Past Reviewer

    Sharona Ginsberg is the Head of the Terrapin Learning Commons at the University of Maryland, College Park. Her work fits where technology and learning intersect, and she is especially interested in makerspaces and creating. She is also interested in issues of equity and social justice, serving LGBTQ patrons, and her dog, Bilbo Waggins.

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