Amulet Book One: The Stonekeeper

Writer / Artist
Amulet Book One: The Stonekeeper
Amulet Book 1 The Stonekeeper review
  • North American Publisher / ISBN: Scholastic/Graphix - 978-0-4398-4681-3
  • Volume No.: 1
  • Release date: 2008
  • UPC: 9780439846813
  • Contains adult content?: no
  • Does this pass the Bechdel test?: yes
  • Positive minority portrayal?: no

Amulet’s intended nine volumes begin with a tragedy, which is a signifier of Kazu Kibuishi not shying away from real life even though fantasy is the primary genre. It’s a policy he sticks with, meaning Amulet should be categorised as young adult level rather than all ages.

The fantasy starts when the Hayes family moves to a new town and into a creepy old house owned by Emily’s great-grandfather before his disappearance decades previously. He was an eccentric inventor, and as seen on the sample art, the house already has some unearthly occupants. It’s not long before Emily discovers the basement also contains a pathway to another world, one where there are hungry monsters.

It seems a rule of children’s fiction that a secret must always be kept from adults, advice that should never apply to real life, and Kibuishi has no time for that attitude. Emily’s mother is the first to discover what lurks in the basement and the first to be transported to a different world, but in circumstances requiring Emily and her brother Navin to rescue her. This task is greatly aided by an amulet Emily discovered in the house, which acts as a sort of other-worldly Alexa, offering advice in times of need, not least how to channel an effective blast of power.

From the art on down, Kibuishi keeps everything relatively simple and easy to understand, which shouldn’t indicate wonder is absent, nor does the simplicity prevent some great surprises. There’s no point in revealing Silas Charnon as an inventor without later showing his craft, and Kibuishi is imaginative in doing just that, as Emily arrives at a turning point determining the remainder of the series. He introduces a range of threats, keeping to the ethos of simplicity, yet with teeth, literal and metaphorical. A weird, but likeable supporting cast is gradually introduced, and Kibuishi ensures there’s a place for everyone. For half the book younger brother Navin seems a spare wheel, but come the time he steps righteously up to the plate.

Amulet hooks from the start, and Kibuishi ensures the adventure keeps coming until the end, when you’ll want to head straight into The Stonekeeper’s Curse at full speed.