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The most amazing thing about Linda Medley’s Castle Waiting Volume II (Fantagraphics, 2010) is that nothing really happens.
And yet, it’s completely enthralling just the same.
The bulk of the action — if you can call it that — focuses on Jain moving into the Keep with her baby, Pindar, and visitors from Henry’s past showing up looking for help. But mostly, it’s just the characters interacting — they poke fun at each other, help each other out, chat, eat, explore and play games.
We do find out a bit more about Jain’s past, but there are no major revelations. I found myself not particularly caring about who the father of Jain’s baby is when it’s much more interesting to watch Jain trying to teach Simon to read. Or when Simon shares his secret of how he wins at nine pins with Chess. It’s the small moments that drive this book. Sister Peace’s teasing friendship with Chess is a delight, and Jain’s compassion toward the troubled doctor is sweet.
Medley’s art remains consistently gorgeous — both playful and meticulously. While this is firmly fantasy with its giants and dwarves and imps and all other manner of fantastic creatures, her characters look and feel so full of life they seem like real people (and that includes the ones with animal heads). I love lingering over her images and taking in the details in the folds of clothing or someone’s raised eyebrows.
I loved my time with these characters. It’s such a cliché to say “I didn’t want it to end!” but well, I kept flipping the last page over, unconvinced it was really the end.