Malice -- Chris Wooding

Malice For ages now, there have been rumors about Malice.  Supposedly, it's a hard-to-find-horror-comic-that-isn't-just-a-horror-comic.  Because, supposedly, if you collect the right ingredients, combine them in just the right order and say just the right words, Tall Jake will come and take you away.

Into Malice.

Supposedly, after kids disappear into Malice, you can read about them in later issues.  For as long as they survive, anyway.

Seth and Kady don't buy it.  They think it's just an urban legend, like the Candyman or Bloody Mary or that one about the haunted VHS tape.  But then one of their friends disappears.  And they discover that Malice is very, very real.

Okay, when I first took this one out of the box, I was concerned.  Because as visually cool as the molded plastic on the front cover was, I knew that it was going to be a pain-and-a-half to shelve.  But then I realized that the molded plastic was just affixed with something rubber cement-ish and was easily removed.  And that the cover art was printed on the book under the plastic thingie.  So I was able to actually concentrate on the book and stop worrying about library deployment.

And the book was fun.  In other hands, I think the switches in format -- from text to comic and back again, as well as some playing with font size and text placement -- could have felt gimmicky and annoying, but because of the storyline and because Chris Wooding can write, it all worked.  There are some genuinely creepy parts, and I felt some actual suspense -- as kids were getting killed right and left, I didn't assume that any of the main characters would make it.  

So, while I didn't think that the writing was as strong as in The Haunting of Alaizabel Cray -- there wasn't much in the way of character development, and though some of the characters were American and some were British, they all sort of sounded the same (and there was that one plot point that I had a hard time buying, unless it pops up in a later installment, so I'll wait and see) -- and while I found that the comic sections actually detracted from the suspense because the pictures were much less scary than what I came up with in my head, it'll definitely be a good pick for the younger YA horror crowd. 

An easy, quick pick for fans of Cirque du Freak et al, as well as fans of Skullduggery Pleasant.


Book source: Review copy from the publisher.