Review Detail

Kids Fiction 2331
Atmospheric and compelling
(Updated: July 19, 2012)
Overall rating
Plot/Characters/Writing Style
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
It was while reading Tim Conrad's graphic novel retelling of Victor Hugo's THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME that I realized how very visual the story is, how the story hinges on appearance, and how that can disguise what lies beneath. How apt, then, to have the opportunity to read the classic in this format, which of course emphasizes the visual, from the wild, beautiful Esmeralda to the grossly deformed Hunchback.

I found the palette and style viscerally evocative of fifteenth-century France, although why, I'm not sure I can quantify. There was something muddy, something almost bloody about the art which seemed appropriate to that harsh, sometimes brutal time. Yet there was beauty too, which also rang true, since so much of the story takes place in and around the glory of Notre Dame cathedral.

It is impossible, of course, to condense Victor Hugo's marvelous work into a short graphic novel, and I hope very much no-one reads this version and thinks he's done. This graphic novel should be a way to introduce the classic, or to supplement it but not to replace it.

However, judging it by what it sets out to do, I found this HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME an excellent evocation of the story, and something which made my experience of the original novel somewhat richer.
Good Points
Visually striking
Faithful to original without getting bogged down
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