Child’s life is changed forever when she travels over the wall and into The Porcelain Maker’s strange domain. As the Porcelain Maker changes Child’s life, he changes her life, too, and among all the darkness and woe light and beauty can be found.
Once Upon a Time…
The story plays with the familiar ideas of Cinderella style rags to riches and Blue Beard’s forbidden chamber. In fact, the fairy tale element of the story attracted it to me in the first place, and it’s subtitle “A Gothic Fairy Tale” describes the content perfectly, from the macabre horror of the twist to the metamorphoses of the characters.
Despite the perhaps predictable outcomes (do not flick through this book, there’d be spoilers ahead!) the story is beautifully told and lyrical and is easy to read as it is captivating.
The World Beyond the Wall
Not only is the premise and story enchanting, the illustrations are just stunning and finely detailed, adding even more so to the element of fairy tale. The main characters are delightful, and the sleek, almost steam-punkish designs of the white porcelain creatures show the readers an entirely different view of the world. Chris Woodhouse is a skilled artist and real-life influences are clear – I bet you can guess who the recently-deceased inspiration for the Porcelain Maker was.
In moments that seemed to pass in a blink of an eye Child was learning The Porcelain Maker’s trade and learning to read. The moments were so rapid I was not even aware they were happening, and maybe the novel could have done with some more transitional pieces. The story itself is hindered by being quite short – just over 90 pages – but I can imagine a bigger story if it had been a series, for example exploring the sweet relationship between The Porecelain Maker and Child more, or delving into his past as he apprenticed and how he did what he did to his mechanical creations. Even the street urchins of Child’s old life could have provided more story, as well as the mysterious tragedy of The Porcelain Maker’s late wife.
Worth a Read?
If you fancy a beautiful yet disturbing journey into the realm of fairy tales, I could not recommend this graphic-novel more. Porcelain is a dark and beautiful story, and the wonderful illustrations and remarkable talent sends the reader into its unusual but fascinating world.
This is a fantastic graphic novel, and it has instantly become one of my favourites – the début of new-ish company Improper Books, I hope to see much more of Read and Wildgoose’s work in the future.