Sleepless: Vol. 1, by Sarah Vaughn

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A few months ago, I asked my local comic shop owner for his honest opinion of the new Books of Magic reboot. (I loved the original series as a kid, but I've been burned before by the various attempts at re-starting it, and my comics budget is not limitless.) He hesitated—clearly, a sale's a sale—but then told me that while he was glad that the Vertigo titles were bringing people into the store, he thought he could recommend some more interesting fantasy titles, and handed me Sarah Vaughn's Sleepless.

Set in a medieval fantasy kingdom called Harbeny, Sleepless centers around Lady “Poppy” Pyppenia, the illegitimate daughter of the late king. Poppy is accompanied everywhere by Cyrenic, her personal guard. Cyrenic is one of the Sleepless, an order of knights who magically defer all sleep until the end of their lives—a sacrifice that will eventually lead to ever-increasing fugue states, and an early death. Poppy and Cyrenic have an unspoken love for one another, but a series of attempts on Poppy's life changes everything. Cyrenic is determined to protect Poppy even if exacerbates his condition, and she is equally determined to protect him, even if it means releasing him from his magical vows.

Sleepless has loads going for it: a diverse cast, an intriguing premise, and beautiful artwork. Unfortunately, I think it would have been better served by a much longer run time. It's a tribute to Vaughn's skill that she managed to include so much world-building in so few pages, but the story needed to be twice as long—at least—to fully develop the characters or plot. (Despite the beauty of Leila Del Luca's lush illstrations, I actually wished this was a novel, which would have given the story so much more room.) Still, there aren't enough fantasy series featuring non-white protagonists for me to be overly picky about details, so I'm definitely recommending that people grab this while they can.
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Posted by: Julianka

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