Kazu Kibuishi once again takes us back into the world of Amulet in Book Two: The Stonekeeper's Curse which is due out from Scholastic in September 2009. The Stonekeeper's Curse is a compelling story with tons of actions and opens up in much wider ways the world of the first Amulet book. It's a thrilling tale, a fantastic piece of comics from Kibuishi and a worthy successor to the first book.
The first Amulet book opens with Emily and Navin in a strange new house once owned by their great-grandfather. They follow their mother through a door in the basement into an even stranger world of robots and talking animals and many other fantasical things (like giant robot houses!). In this sequel, Emily and Navin find themselves heading to a mysterious city called Kanalis. I hate to give away any spoilers here so I won't. But rest assured, everything at the end of the first book is picked up and expanded on in the second book as well as the introduction of new characters and a much larger, deeper backstory to the strange world Emily and Navin find themselves in. Okay one semi-spoiler, but he's on the cover of the book! The new character Leon Redbeard is a self-described bounty hunter, a talking, fighting fox who accompanies Emily on her adventure. I loved this character (if they do make movies of the Amulet series, I want Sam Jackson to do the vocals for Leon) – a great addition to the series.
The story of Amulet is not unfamilar (one could probably play a pretty good game of spot the influences with both books) but it doesn't feel all that derivative to me. In a recent interview with Kibuishi in Graphic Novel Reporter, Kibuishi states that he was influenced by The Empire Strikes Back in crafting this book. I can see a bit of that in how he staged parts of the final action scenes (although it also looks like some Eiji Tsuburaya in there too). A big part of what makes the book new and fresh to read is Kibuishi's artwork which is even better in the sequel than the first book. I've always been a big fan of his style since reading his webcomic Copper and Amulet just seems to provide him with a huge canvas to drawn these amazing scenes incorporating fantasy, science fiction, darkness and the cute (that would be the talking animals and robots mostly). The review copy I received has the cover and several pages in full color. You know, I can't say this enough, all of the Scholastic books I've read have really made wonderful use of color and this one does too. I can only imagine how impressive the fantastic action sequences and the panoramic shots of this world will look in full color.
Kibuishi is apparently already at work on Amulet 3 which promises to be a fantastic story given the way the second book ends. (In fact in that interview, Kibuishi says he might do 10 Amulet books in all before he's done.) If you were a fan of the first Amulet, I would definitely be ready to pick this one up. And if you haven't read the first one, you have a couple of weeks to get it and read it before Amulet 2: The Stonekeeper's Curse come out in September.
Note: The publisher provided a free copy to ComixTalk for review purposes.