Princess Zora is lost in a strange and desolate land. She's been looking for the Peryton clan so that she can lead them back to her father who hopes to unite all five clans together...and where she hopes to win the approval of her family. But at the moment she’s lost, cold, and far from home on a desolate mountain where she's being chased by beasts and by zombies coming from all directions. And the only person that she finds on that mountain is Broxo, a young warrior with no memory of his origins. Can Broxo and Zora solve the mystery of the missing clan? And can they stop the zombies before the zombies stop them?
The premise of the story is absolutely fantastic. I mean how can you go wrong with a missing clan and a princess warrior attempting to find them while avoiding zombies? And the story has so many familiar elements to it ranging from The Walking Dead to Bone to Avatar the Last Airbender. And that combination should create one of the most epic adventure stories ever. And it does...for about half the book. The good half is where we see the characters of Zora and Broxo finding their place in the world, discovering that they can do more than they think they can and together they can accomplish great things. And of course there is Migo (a giant bear/horse/mountain goat type creature) who is ten kinds of awesome and should have his own book. And...then in the other parts of the story it feels like we're missing pieces to the puzzle. For me it almost feels as if we're trying to combine too many different things together: Zora and Broxo finding their way; the mysterious villain, the missing clan, the zombies, and the death ritual of the clan. And I’m thinking that part of the problem is that the story is really built like Bone, in that it needs the gradual buildup to the climax and then an epic conclusion for the last battle sequence...and that just can't happen in 230ish pages. I think the work would have been better suited to be divided up among multiple volumes, where more depth can be added to the story line or to have one 400ish page story. That being said some younger readers may enjoy this story line and feel that it's absolutely perfect to their tastes (which maybe where the author was going.)
I do like the art style in the book. Much like the storyline it feels influenced by Jeff Smith’s work with Bone, with fluid line work creating interesting characters (especially Migo) and backgrounds to help draw the reader into the story. While the colors are somewhat muted, they really capture the intensity of the world, especially in the mountains and the storms that are constantly brewing and swirling. There are also some nice contrasts of lights and shadows that really help set the mood. I also like the character design, especially the nonhuman character, such as Migo. They just have a lot of life and vitality to them that make them entertaining to follow.
Although I think we're missing part of the story, I’d still give the book 3.5 out of 5 stars. I think this book could appeal to young middle school readers, especially those coming across zombies for the first time. I also hope that we get to see more of Broxo and Zora in another book to find out more about their universe.
Review copy provided by Gina at FirstSecond