A thrilling fantasy comic filled with intrigue, magic and sword battles, The Deep and Dark Blue is both an exciting tale of adventure and a touching character drama where one young girl discovers the courage she needs to stand up and fight her enemies and, more importantly, to live as her true self.
Hawke and Grayson are the twin grandchildren of Lord Heywood and have lived, mostly, carefree lives as the scions of the influential House of Sunderlay. All that changes when their cousin, Captain Mirelle, murders their Grandfather and all other members of the family that were ahead of her in the line of succession in a bid to seize power for herself. Hawke and Grayson manage to escape and take refuge amongst the Sisters of the Communion of Blue by disguising themselves as girls seeking to be initiated into the magical order. They assume the names Hanna and Grayce and manage to keep their true identities a secret while they live and train with the Sisters. Hawke is frustrated at having to hide and longs to return to their old life, but Grayce is delighted at the chance to live as a girl and feels like she’s finally able to be her true self. When they hear that Mirelle’s coronation ceremony is fast approaching, Hawke concocts a daring plan to prevent her from taking the title and get revenge for their family. Grayce knows that she and Hawke are the only ones who can stop their cousin, but Hawke’s plan will require that they reveal themselves. Can she bring herself to give up her new home and put an end to her life as Grayce?
The Deep & Dark Blue is a beautiful comic in all senses of the word. The art is gorgeous and makes excellent use of its palette of bright blues, deep purples and warm burgundies. The story, meanwhile, is equally as beautiful as the art. Grayce’s internal journey towards acknowledging and giving voice to the fact that she identifies as a girl is initially told subtly, as she isn’t ready/able to talk openly about her feelings at the start of the story. Where Hawke resents having to hide and chafes at the need for deception, Grayce lights up when they enter the Communion of Blue and seems pleased with the new haircuts and earrings they receive when they join the sisterhood. She quickly adapts to their new life and is eager to learn magic and be accepted by the Sisters. She doesn’t try to plan a way to regain their old life the way that Hawke does and it is through the differences in their attitudes that we are shown Grayce’s feelings. The Communion is like a prison to Hawke that they need to find a way to escape, but to Grayce it is the place where she is able to be free.
Gracye and Hawke’s friend Calia, who knew them in their prior lives, and thus is the only person in the Communion of Blue who knows their secret, notices that Grayce isn’t putting on an act and is in fact trying to build a new life and she’s very supportive of her friend. Thanks, in part, to Calia’s acceptance and encouragement, Grayce finds the courage to open up about who she is to her brother. I was happy to see that Hawke receives some development over the course of the story and, while he initially has a tendency to assume his twin will feel the same way about things that he does, he grows to become a more mature person who is able to accept his twin for who she is.
The setting of The Deep & Dark Blue is enchanting and I found its magic system, and the mythology behind it, to be fascinating. In this world, magic is conducted through the spinning of thread, something which makes for a great visual representation of spell-casting. Blue is considered a sacred colour in this world, as the Holy mother is said to have woven the world from the threads that she spun from the sky. Only members of The Communion of Blue are able to wear blue and it’s also the colour of the thread that they use for their magic. Their order is divided up into different roles, such as healers, scholars or spinners, and the initiates get sorted into different groups based on their individual talents and affinities. Grayce becomes a spinner and begins learning magic, so we are only given brief glimpses into the roles of some of the other groups, but I’d love to see more of the various roles within the order and how they all work together. I hope that we get some sequels to this story so that I can learn more about the Communion of Blue and see how they fit into the larger society of this world. A prequel would also be interesting, as we learn that the twins’ mother had been a member of the Communion of Blue for a few years before leaving and having her children. This book doesn’t reveal her reasons for leaving the order, as it’s not something that’s important to the story being told, but I’m interested in learning the answer to that particular mystery.
The Deep & Dark Blue was an exciting fantasy adventure that features strong world-building and characters. This is an entertaining and deeply poignant comic and I was truly moved by Grayce’s story. I’d recommend it to readers young and old alike who enjoy tales of magic, bravery and self-discovery.
Final Score: 9 out of 10
For more information on this comic, visit The Hachette Book Group’s website: https://www.hachettebookgroup.com/titles/niki-smith/the-deep-dark-blue/9780316486026/
What did you think of this comic? Be sure to let me know in the comments. You can also check out some of my other all-ages comic reviews:
- The Black Mage Review
- Hex Vet Vol 1 & 2 Review
- Newsprints Review
- A Sparrow’s Roar Review
- Extraordinary: A Story of an Ordinary Princess Review
- Pilu of the Woods Review