Cemetery Girl: Book 1 - The Pretenders by Charlaine Harris

(9.0/10) Sure to be a hit with comic fans in the New Year.

Cemetery Girl is Jo Fletcher Books' (an imprint of Quercus) first graphic novel, penned by two authors famed for vampire novels (Charlaine Harris has her long running Sookie Stackhouse novels whereas Christopher Golden wrote the Buffy the Vampire Slayer graphic novel). Don Kramer is the artist (having previously worked on JSA, Batman and Detective Comics) while Danielle Rudoni and Jacob Bascle did the colouring and lettering.

The story follows the life of the "Cemetery Girl", a girl who is dragged from the boot of a car and left for dead by a man in black on a rainy night. The place he leaves her is Dunhill Cemetery, but isn't it the dead who are supposed to be there? When she realizes she isn't dead, she has the usual pangs for food and drink but no memories of times or events, or even who she is. Even ghosts have memories of who they once were. Afraid to go anywhere other than the cemetery she has adopted as her home, each night she sees the caretaker go about his business, oblivious to her being there, or is he? From thieves to devil-worshippers she feels the plight of the dead and the actions of the living, and one night witnesses the murder of a girl by an evil gang of youths. Through all this the self-titled "Cemetery Girl" steals from the caretaker to live and hides from everyone. She can't hide forever though and sure enough she has to show herself to at least one person who can understand what she is going through. She still has no idea who she is, who her family is, even her own name, but she does get the feeling she has acquired a power even she didn't think she possessed.

Cemetery Girl has a power all of its own and Harris and Golden seem to have created their own version of James O'Barr's The Crow and this is also a horror tale with a nice dose of mystery thrown in. The plot itself is simplistic yet the Cemetery Girl has to find out all the answers (not that she does any of that in the first book) before the man who thought her dead finds out she is still alive. She knows she only has a matter of time to discover the truth before her whole world comes crashing down around her.

There are no superheroes to be found here, but a horror/mystery about a girl trying to find out who she is, and why she has developed a strange new power. Fans of Don Kramer's work will remember his pencilling on J. Michael Strazinski's controversial Wonder Woman series, his Dr Fate miniseries with Chris Golden and being the artist for Nightwing with Peter Tomasi, Christopher Golden's Strangewood, The Myth Hunters, The Lost Slayer and Sins of the Father.

Readers can enjoy this story as it plays out,  it has quite a zombie feel to it due to the fact that the Cemetery Girl's life revolves around a cemetery at night and has far more to do around the dead than the living. This is reminiscent of Laurell K. Hamilton's Anita Blake series with its dark imagery and frank depictions of ghosts and spirits. This is sure to be a hit with comic fans in the New Year.

Cemetery Girl: Book 1 - The Pretenders (Graphic Novel)
By Charlaine Harris (Author), Christopher Golden (Author), Don Kramer (Illustrator)
Hardcover: 120 pages
Publisher: Jo Fletcher Books, 2 Jan 2014

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