Indigo can’t sleep. Or rather, something has been haunting her in the waking hours of the night. Is she trapped in a dream, or might something more sinister be lurking in the shadows of her subconscious? A supernatural mystery dripping with eerie undertones invades her angst-ridden life in Seth Christian Martel’s The Mare, a story that blends psychological drama with supernatural realism.
The opening pages of this young adult graphic novel features a teenager named Indigo, caught in the midst of a relentless nightmare, spiraling into a dark, empty void. She then awakens and fixes breakfast for her divorced alcoholic father. In zombie-like fashion, she heads out to work at a diner where she buses tables as a server, striving to make ends meet while her life shutters from one problem to the next. Kasia, her closest friend, serves as an anchor for Indigo. After describing the shadowy figures (sleep demons) tormenting her at night, she learns from Kasia that she may be victim to a “Mare”—a supernatural entity seeking solace having been wronged while alive, yet failing to attain peace. The Mare materializes as an electrifying blue light that latches onto Indigo during the wee hours of the night, upturning her room in poltergeist fashion, leaving a chaotic mess. Kasia hatches a series of folk remedies to help Indigo overcome this supernatural force—drinking coffee grounds before bed, placing a broom by the door, sleeping upside down—to no success. One night, after taking sleeping pills, Indigo sleepwalks and awakens to find herself across town in front of her stepmother’s house. Indigo and Kasia strive to uncover the mysterious paranormal incidents that seem to intensify with each encounter.
The plot unfolds through dialogue-driven panels occupied by emotionally charged characters who reinforce the narrative action. Muted, shaded grays punctuated by shimmering streaks and saturated oceanic blues accentuate moments of intensity and conflict with dramatic flair. The rapidly paced story speeds to a climax that leaves room for further questions, though the mounting tension and unraveling of events steering toward the resolution persistently intrigues and tantalizes.
A coming-of-age story infused with themes surrounding finding one’s purpose, child abuse, and self-doubt—undergirded by paranormal activities—The Mare delivers a story where text and images grounded in reality converge with the supernatural to offer a compelling read for young adult collections.
By Seth C. Martel
Graphic Mundi, 2023
Publisher Age Rating: 13+
NFNT Age Recommendation: Teen (13-16)