The Girl and the Glim is a part-cute and part-grisly graphic novel about a young anxiety-ridden girl saving a small town from hidden monsters. In the first volume of this new series, the author and illustrator, India Swift, creates a world that both captures the awkward and nerve-wracking realities of starting a new middle school juxtaposed against other-worldly monsters.
The cover is a perfect description of the contents within. A cartoon illustration of a cute girl illustrated with purple highlights as she embraces a pale fluff, while a menacing tower of black spidery monsters hovers above her, ready to attack. The comic opens with Bridgette, a young girl with large eyes and a head full of hair, laying on a broken floor as a cloud of torn pictures swirls around her. Bridgette is scared about living in a new town and a new school away from her friends. She has daydreams of a strong confident girl who impresses all the other students at school, when in reality she stumbles, is awkward, and is laughed at by her classmates. Swift has created a very real character in Bridgette. Her emotions and ways of coping (or avoiding) will ring true with many readers.
The story continues in a typical new town/new school story, including moving boxes, busy parents, an empty house, and cringe-worthy encounters with other children at school. There is even an awkward meet-cute with a potential new friend in the neighborhood. Then the story begins to diverge into the paranormal.
It is a heartwarming coming of age story, about a young girl overcoming nervous anxiety in a new home with new people. However, those anxieties are manifested as monsters, and her newfound confidence comes as she fights back.
The illustrations are rich in color with strong lines and a level of detail that is common among middle-grade graphic novels and the cartoons those readers love. But this illustration style shifts when Bridgette falls down a steep hill behind the school. The color leaves the pages, and the illustrations become more chaotic, with much sharper angles and harsh black lines. A monster looms above her, well, not one monster, but a mountain of monstrous spiders with sharp teeth and spindly legs. These pages are filled with black and moments of angry red.
The power in comics comes from the marriage of illustration and text. The dynamic shift in tone through illustrations builds tension in a way that would be lost in another format. I found it to be beautifully executed in a way that adds just the right amount of horror for the young audience.
The book ends with some unanswered questions, and I am happily looking forward to the rest of the series to find out what happens. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and I am confident it will be popular with upper elementary and middle school readers. Those readers navigating their own coming-of-age stories will find humor, comfort, and a thrilling story with The Girl and the Glim.
The book was originally self-published in 2017 and has been updated with additional pages in the current publication.
The Girl and the Glim, Vol. 1
By India Swift
Publisher Age Rating: 9-12
NFNT Age Recommendation: Middle Grade (7-11), Tween (10-13)