Age Rating 16+
When I began reading this book, I figured I knew what to expect.
Taking place in an Japan inspired mythical land, The story of the titular legendary mask; which allows the wearer to bring a person back from the dead, and Sadakyo and Masamura; the people who search for it, ended up being a more personal story than one would think given the fantastical set dressing.
The land has been torn by war, and our story picks up in the corpse ridden field of one of the war's latest battles. However we aren’t following a soldier on the war front, we are following the betrothed of a fallen soldier and a simple peasant just trying to survive .
The story’s titular mask takes a backseat to the very personal story of Sadakyo’s grief which pushes her to search for the legendary object; a mask who’s only ever been known in story.
Sadakyo is helped on her journey by Masamura; a young peasant who is carrying a dark past that influences his decision to travel with Sadakyo. Their developing relationship kept the story rooted in a very human place.
Ali Roberto’s art does a lot to carry the emotions of the story: Clean detailed line work makes it clear what is happening on the page, and the slightly muted color palette works together to keep the story grounded and brutal in the few action scenes throughout the story. The pace here is deliberately slow and steady, shying away from the stylings and brighter palettes of other action graphic novels.
Fantastic atmosphere, beautiful art, and relatable characters make this one of the better graphic novels I’ve read in a long time. The Mask of a Thousand Tears by David Chauvel and Roberto Ali is an easy recommendation to any fan of the medium. The Mask of a Thousand Tears is available now from the Benton Harbor Public Library on Overdrive.