Three Shadows by Cryil Pedrosa [Review]

It was either entirely by chance or completely Carl’s fault that I picked up this book on my recent visit to York, looking though the graphic novels for completely different book altogether it seemed to fit the R.I.P. Challenge III so perfectly, it’s have been very remiss of me to pass it by! (Not to mention the author is French so it is also another stop off point on my Orbis Terrarvm journey!)

On first impression, the specter of the titular Three Shadows, looms larges over the idyllic bliss enjoyed by the small family both story-wise and artistically on the page, but this story, is so much simpler and yet so much more, Pedrosa, is using the graphic novel genre to tell a story about fear and pain.

Can you ever escape your fate?

Three shadows stand outside the house — and Louis and Lise know why the spectral figures are there. The shadows have come for Louis and Lise’s son, and nothing anyone can do will stop them. Louis cannot let his son die without trying to prevent it, so the family embarks on a journey to the ends of the earth, fleeing death.

Poignant and suspenseful, Three Shadows is a haunting story of love and grief, told in moving text and sweeping black and white artwork by Cyril Pedrosa.

At the start of the story we are invited to see just how happy the family are (of course this is the first clue that something unspeakable is about to befall them), and then when the shadows make an appearance, neither we nor the family know what they are, distant visitors just passing by? Or something more? When they appear night after night, it’s clear that they represent a threat, and a sinister one at that. They discover that whatever this threat is, it is something from which there is no escape, and it is centered on the boy, Joachim.

The father does what most fathers would try and do, and runs. Trying to escape the menace and save his boy. It becomes clear by this point what the three shadows represent and are after. What threat is there always no escape from? It is of course, death.

Pedrosa, has deliberately chosen here to make his father a big man, figuratively and literally, the next part of the book shows that, sometimes this just isn’t enough, and all you can do is make the most of what limited, precious time you do have left, with a loved one. And that in the end, life does indeed go on. It it this message which makes what could just be a difficult read into a pleasant and positive experience.

The artwork is fabulous, completely capturing the light and the dark, the humour and the fear, the joy and the dread, often at the turn of a page, sometimes with exquisite detail and sometimes with the bear minimum, even in the most painful moments of the story a joy to look at.

I can’t decide whether the book should have been longer or shorter, I think both ways would have a very good book even more rewarding, either by tightening the story up or filling it out more and giving those extra few snip pits of details that would have left the story feeling more complete.

That said, I heartily recommend this book, if you come across it. It is all the more poignant as Pedrosa was inspired to create the book after watching close friends lose a young child.

Buy, Three Shadows from Amazon.

Read the first 11 pages here.

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