It had been such a long time since I'd read the first volume of the wonderful, quirky Gunnerkrigg Court (which I'd discovered back when it was still only available as a webcomic - and it still is, for free, here), that I thought I'd better reread it before starting on with this second volume, and I'm glad I did. First, because it is delightful, and it was fun to revisit those dark and mysterious boarding school corridors, and second, because I might have been a bit confused about the continuing events in the second volume if I hadn't done that reread first.
Volume 2 continues the story of young Antimony Carver, at the strange boarding school known as Gunnerkrigg Court. This is her second year, and she and her best friend Kat continue to explore the mysteries that the school - and Annie's past - have to offer. There's the strange relationship between the school and its emphasis on technology and robotics and the forest with its nature spirits and deities. There is the ghost that we met in the first book, who may have some answers to offer. And there's also the secret room beneath Kat's workshop and the strange ancient robots that the two girls discover there. Aside from the magical, robotic and mythological aspects of the girls' school days, there are also the mundane but no less important issues of navigating the ins and outs of friendship and change.
Where the first book was more episodic, with each chapter telling its own short story, this one is more cohesive, with a single narrative arc that runs throughout the volume. It has the same quirky humor and compelling plot, and the colorful illustrations are a visual feast. I love that I find this book just as engaging as my ten- and twelve-year-old daughters do, and while we may derive our enjoyment from different aspects of the story, we have a great time sharing our thoughts about the enigmatic hints and clues that always keep us guessing.
We are all very much looking forward to reading the third volume. I own the first volume of this series, and while I checked the second one out from the library, this is one series that I intend to purchase in its entirety for our own personal collection. I know it's one we'll all be reading and rereading over the years.
Books in the Gunnerkrigg Court series:
Gunnerkrigg Court, Volume 2: Research by Tom Siddell (Archaia, 2009)
Also reviewed at:
Back to Books: "Gone are the seemingly random vignettes, instead to be replaced by a full blown plot of magic and mayhem between the court and the forest, the humans and the non-human creatures living at Gunnerkrigg Court. "
Finding Wonderland: "Though fans of school stories like the Harry Potter books would probably enjoy this one, Gunnerkrigg is no Hogwarts. Though it, too, hides secrets everywhere and has a few ghosts hanging about, nothing is quite as clear-cut; there's no easy division between wizards and muggles, no complete separation between life and death and clockwork, between human and faerie."
Mama Librarian: "Siddell never takes himself too seriously, and we find ourself falling hard for his characters. A worthy heir to Buffy."