REVIEW: Hematite – Vol 1 Serenade (2021)

A Graphic Novel by Victoria Maderna, Federico Piatti

Growing up is hard – drama at school, fights with parents, resisting conformity, and even lost loves. Now, imagine how hard it would be in a world where all manner of monster, from Draugr to werewolves, all go to the same school and try to stay out of trouble with the added magic of the occult sprinkled in. This is the world where Hematite, perhaps the most unorthodox vampire, lives in. Hematite has eschewed the social norms of her people to go to an integrated all-monster sort of school. this drives her parents insane just as much as her forays into some sort of vampiric version of veganism does. Why can’t she go to the stuffy Academy school all the other vampires attend? Hematite isn’t just another vampire, and is tired of how society perceives her people, but is sometimes haunted by her own nature.

“Hematite is a young vampire who is trying to find her way. As a member of the illustrious Blackwood family, she faces pressure to conform to high society standards, but such grandstanding isn’t for her. And neither is drinking blood—she’d rather have vegetable soup! So it is that she opts for the more diverse Wolven School, rather than joining the ranks of her fellow vampires at the Diaemus Academy. Being different can be hard, though, and doesn’t always help to make friends. Luckily for Hematite, she has her poetry, as well as Drunela—a draugr who won’t let their differences keep them apart—and Emile, a human boy fascinated by the occult who would just love to take a peek at the Blackwoods’ private library. Unfortunately, bridging societal divides isn’t always easy, and can lead to terrible consequences…”

This is a fun little fantasy book that has it’s darker moments, but isn’t a “horror story” per se. Aside from a few slashes of claws, and a probably reversible death at one point, there are not very many real scares for any of you gore-hounds out there. In many ways, this is the perfect sort of book for October, especially the lead up to Halloween, and reminds me a lot of things like Hotel Transylvania or even Hocus Pocus tone-wise. It’s not necessarily a kids book or anything, but it would be suitable for most kids. I liked the more gothic elements of the story, and definitely appreciate the script, as its not really your typical fantasy comic you see around here. I can only assume it’s because it’s a Spanish comic, and most European comics have a different flair than ones over here.

I like the character of Hematite because she isn’t shoehorned in as a preachy character in any way. In a story like this, where the main allegory is in many ways racism and perhaps classism, most writers have a tendency to use characters like her to talk down to others and it comes across ham-fisted and stilted. Hematite’s not like like that, because her motivation for going to an integrated school is more because she hates vampire society and is adverse to most social situations. She is largely down on herself, and doesn’t want to exist, but her friends see the good in her and what she selflessly does for people and want her to be happy. In many ways, this books speaks to me as a book about depression, and how being alone all the time is not always the best thing to strive for.

While this is the first part in a series, and ends on a hell of a cliffhanger, I would definitely recommend this for the upcoming spooky season. For me, there’s no better thing than fun Halloween stories to get me in the mood for binging on candy and planning a costume party. Rather than breaking out the classics, I’d recommend a new spooky book to add to your library, I guarantee you’ll enjoy it!

If you are interested in a copy for yourself, click HERE

NOTE: I received a free preliminary, and likely unedited copy of this book from Netgalley for the purposes of providing an honest, unbiased review of the material. Thank you to all involved.

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