Page 45 Review by Jodie Paterson
"They all trust me too much.
"They think I know the difference between right & wrong.
"Someday I'll make the wrong call.
"I'll mess up.
"And they'll realise I'm just like them...
"...I need to know if I'm on the right side."
Standing steadfast in a post-apocalyptic world, dense with magic and bustling with life, is the Citadel. Of which the many residents, safely ensconced inside, depend on the protection of a mysterious being capable of magnificent power: the Chancellor. Tightly wrapped in a lustrous blue cloak, her identity remains a secret to all of the Citadel's inhabitants. To even her dearest companion, Olive, her identity remains unknown.
The Citadel doesn't hold the only life in this disparaged world, for beyond the walls the humans lurk in the forests. Humans who are restless, who are fearful, angry, and who only refer to the Chancellor as "Witch". They plan an ambush, outnumbering her 50 to 1, but it doesn't matter how hard a fight they are willing to give, they are merely humans, and with a great flash of light it is over. But the Chancellor didn't want this to happen. She never wanted to hurt anybody. At least not now. All she wants is to do right by all of those that depend on her. But there is a history. One that has become muddied and forgotten over the ages of time. One that has forged fear deep into the humans and has convinced them that what they must do is fight back against her. They need to make her pay for what she has done.
We are given a snapshot view of an intricately detailed world: one of mystery, of unrest, and of fear. There is a lot left unspoken which causes our cast of characters, on both sides of the wall, to begin to question the reality of their situation. This is a story packed with intrigue which will keep you hooked from the very first line. But within all the tension also lies a great deal of tenderness: the gentle moments between Olive and the Chancellor when they share a brief word of encouragement, or the smattering of tiny spirits that huddle together in comfort.
Frantz has achieved such rounded characters and masterfully demonstrates all aspects of their personalities - particularly with the Chancellor - that you gain a full understanding of who they are, and who they are trying to be. Gloriously packed with texture, Frantz creates a very tangible, yet ethereal, world. With intricate line work reminiscent of Aaron THE UNSINKABLE WALKER BEAN Ranier, and an environment so exuberant with magic you will feel like you've fallen into a Miyazaki film.
This is an embracing story of acceptance and strength. Strength in courage, in trust, and in knowing ourselves.