Stars, Hide Your Fire

Iron Circus Comics. Oct. 2021. 162p. pap. $15. ISBN 9781945820892.
Gr 7 Up–On a chilly fall night, best friends Andrea and Darra break into an old factory in hopes of finding some excitement. Andrea, who is implied to be queer, is desperate for a one-way ticket out of their small town, while Darra is far more tentative, balancing her urge to leave with her desire to succeed academically and satisfy her overbearing mother. Andrea discovers a century-old ghost named Carmen, who promises to help Andrea see the world if she will help her find her “fairy ring,” which Carmen wishes to destroy. Meanwhile, Darra meets Liam, a young man who has been tracking Carmen for the past hundred years after a deal he made with her went awry. Convinced that Liam’s story will wake Andrea out of her obsession with Carmen, Darra is met with resistance from Andrea. When Carmen begins to possess Darra, stealing time off her life, Andrea joins Liam in overcoming Carmen’s enchantments and fixing the collateral damage. Ultimately, the magical fantasy elements of this book are not fleshed out, resulting in an underwhelming plot and poorly developed characterization. Pimienta’s illustrations are soft-lined, similar to the artwork in Tillie Walden’s graphic novels, but don’t quite match the story. The harsh palette enhances the offbeat nature of the fantasy tale but not in a way that seems intentional. Andrea’s ethnicity isn’t defined; Darra is cued as Asian.
VERDICT With simplistic themes and strained artwork, the story falls flat.

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