Set in a steampunk world reminiscent of a fairy tale, Dreams Factory tells the story of Indira, a young girl working in the mines to help support her father and little brother. Unfortunately, she has fallen ill, so her brother Eliott tries to take her place, but is too short to be allowed to work. The mine’s owner, Ms. Sachs, overhears that Eliott can’t work and offers him a different job in her factory making mechanical insect toys. When Indira learns that Eliott and other village children have gone missing, she looks all over town for him. When someone finally tells Indira that her brother went with Ms. Sachs, Indira tries to confront this highly respected woman and finds herself arrested for assault. After escaping the police, Indira follows a mechanical insect into the factory and finds the missing children, who have lost their memories. It seems that the factory feeds on children’s memories in order to power the mechanical insects being produced.
The illustrations in this graphic novel are magnificent. The artist and colorists brought the world and characters to life so well that few words were needed to flesh them out. Many panels are devoid of speech bubbles, so the illustrations can appear in their entirety without interruption. I do wish there had been a little more description or explanation of how the mystical elements of the factory work exactly, or its origin. The climax gets very confusing, so something to help slow things down would help readers to better understand both what is happening and the characters’ motivations. Perhaps it makes more sense in the original French, but the English translation could have been longer to address these issues.
Although there is a small pacing problem with the plot, I still recommend this book be added to public libraries or collections that focus on splendid illustrations. Because there are heavier topics of child labor, some body horror (limbs replaced with mechanical versions), and on-page death, this story is more suited to teenagers.
By Jerome Hamon
Art by Suheb Zako
Magnetic Press, 2022
Publisher Age Rating: 14 and up
NFNT Age Recommendation: Teen (13-16)
Creator Representation: French