Review by Ian Keogh
Marilyn Spaaij begins Sisters of the Mist as if a voiceover accompanying documentary footage introducing the dangers awaiting in Frygea Forest, perhaps an indication of her background in movie animation. The threats include trolls, a hellhound and fog furies, and Margot and Kyra’s lack of fear when being told about them is pretty much a guarantee that they’re going to regret their mockery while staying with their Gran. Their younger sister Janna is more easily scared about the possibilities, and after a day spent exploring the forest and discovering there are dangers, the older sisters are also convinced.
It turns out the mysteries of the forest aren’t the most interesting aspect of Sisters of the Mist, which is just as well because when it comes to fantasy Spaaij just feeds in genre standbys and her art isn’t different enough to compensate. All three children are wide-eyed and open-mouthed, and the backgrounds are wispy and indistinct. It leaves the interesting aspect being the way Spaaij deals with puberty, a subject rarely openly addressed in graphic novels for teenage girls.
Margot is thirteen, and while at her Gran’s she experiences her first period. She’s a little confused by the changes occurring, and Kyra’s confused about why their shared interests are disappearing. It’s a relationship sympathetically handled, and given an allegorical twist via another trip to the forest.
There’s definite value in explaining to young girls what some might not adequately learn at home or school about what’s a natural, but frightening process, and there’s also no point in overselling the fear or pain. However, while Spaaij has the right idea about wrapping up the education in a story, the story isn’t memorable enough to do the job.