The Highest House by Mike Carey

details
Title: The Highest House.
Writer(s): Mike Carey.
Illustrator(s): Peter Gross.
Colourist(s): Fabien Alquier.
Publisher: IDW Publishing.
Format: Paperback.
Release Date: November 20th 2018.
Pages: 160.
Genre(s): Comics, Fantasy.
ISBN13: 9781684053544.
My Overall Rating: ★★★★☆.

thoughts

Every now and then you wander down the beautiful roads of literature and cross paths with a wild story that will fully enchant you with its flamboyant looks and its tantalizing stare. This latest discovery comes right in time to remind me that saturation is no where near my sights as great storytellers continue to find ways to capture a reader’s attention and hold it through words and pictures. Mike Carey and Peter Gross team up once again after having joined forces and delivered the Lucifer and The Unwritten series to offer readers around the world the chance to be absorbed into a unique self-contained fantasy world with slavery, politics and mysterious forces in the mist of it all. Collecting issues #1-6 in an oversized European dimension that was originally published in France and later released in the U.S. by IDW Publishing, this story marks the beginning of a brand new series for readers to explore.

The Highest House transports us to the country of Ossaniul where resides the incomprehensibly enormous fortress known as the Highest House. The story follows Moth, a newly-acquired slave to the noble family of Aldercrest, and looks to investigate his mysterious ascension through the mean and despicable social classes of this society composed of nobles and slaves. This unimaginable rise of a slave among the ranks wouldn’t however been possible without the help of an obscure force known as Obsidian. As they bond in quiet, away from the weary eyes of those who smell danger, there motives meld and become one while Obsidian’s intentions remain a secret from everyone. With mental and physical slavery at the heart of this tale, the ultimate question that arises from Moth’s journey is if he would do everything in his power to get what he wants for himself and those he cares for.

Untitled

While I had no doubt that Mike Carey wasn’t likely to disappoint me in terms of world-building, especially when you know that he can write great stories (see his impressive list of work, including those written under the name of M.R. Carey), I was pleasantly surprised by my investment in this one. Unbelievable novelist and comic book writer, Mike Carey adds The Highest House to his collection and proves that his imagination still has no borders and that he is capable of anything. What makes this story so particularly captivating is its underlying theme of slavery. The imagery that is used to depict it through the narrative is impressive in its own right, from the kind of slave work Moth starts of doing to what he ends up becoming within the royal family. The pages used to explore some of the more mundane elements of the story also help unveil the complexity in the simplicity. The story also gradually develops to smoothly incorporate darker concepts that would otherwise have you cringe in disgust at the mere thought of them. There is something truly bewitching in the way the story is told and how it progresses.

Peter Gross and Fabien Alquier also deserve just as much praise for their artwork as it is quite outstanding how they are able to pack so much content within each page. With the oversized pages, a lot of room is left for the artwork for them to properly balance dialogue and art without letting one submerge the other. The balance they achieve in keeping it so gripping with each flip of a page is incredible considering that they very rarely let the artwork speak for itself. The colouring is also impeccable, giving the setting the perfect atmosphere that conveys the alternate history in which the story is folded in. Even the nuances that results from day and night help in capturing a unique vibe that easily tickles your imagination with secrecy and despair, yet truly feels innocent on the surface. It’s safe to say that the historical fiction fused with the fantasy lore was seamlessly portrayed through the artwork and that things are only getting started with this world.

The Highest House is a mesmerizing story reminiscent of the Balkan kingdoms of the 16th century that follows a young boy in his wishes to elevate himself from the suffocating grasps of society’s institution of slavery.


EXHIBITA

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Thank you to Penguin Random House Canada and IDW Publishing for sending me a copy for review!

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21 comments

  • This looks quite good Lashaan! I have no idea who the author is but is seems like putting him in charge of the story really paid off. The art isn’t drawing me in though the cover is intriguing. I like how you talked about Moth… I love when just the name sparks interest, I kind of just want to read it to see what that is about… 😉

    Liked by 2 people

    • It sure does, doesn’t it? 😀 Oh? You really never heard of him before? He’s the author of The Girl With All the Gifts, for example. 😮 Ah, and in all honesty, I’m not the biggest fan of the artwork, but I appreciate what was accomplished by them here. I think what I like the least about everything is the character designs. Otherwise, I do like how the world is drawn! 😀 Ahhh, he’s a peculiar character. He evolves relatively quickly too, which might seem odd sometimes, but it’s fascinating to see what he’s capable of as he gains “power”. Oh, and about the cover, each issue (#1-6) was drawn by Yuko Shimizu and they put one of those covers as the book’s cover. I would have loooooooved to see the whole story drawn by Yuko Shimizu as the art is soooo much more compelling too! Thank you for reading, Dani! I appreciate it a lot! 😀

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    • Awn, thank you so much Shalini! Hahaha I do love to read “between the lines” or look further into the drawings to capture the ideas the writer/artist wants to convey hahah Thank you for reading, Shalini!

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  • Yea dude. This one going on my TBR for sure. The name “M.R. Carey” popped in my head when I saw the writer’s name above, but I was still surprised when you mentioned it’s the same dude. I didn’t know he did comics too. I loved how Girl With All the Gifts was written.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hahahah I do love to spoil an author’s pseudonym. 😀 Mike Carey is a huge comic book writer too. It’s probably why he decided to write novels under his M.R. Carey name. 😀 Hope you’ll enjoy your time with it if you do pick it up. Be ware, again hahah, that the artwork is not the same as the one on the cover. The cover art is done by an artist who did all the cover art for the single issues in that style. They just picked the cover of one of the issues to be the cover of the collected edition. 😀

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  • It looks lovely. I enjoyed The Girl With All the Gifts, it showcased Carey’s storytelling skills, and the art in this looks very promising. I’ll try to get my hands on it 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • It indeed is! And it’s always refreshing to pick up a creator-owned comic book story instead of a superhero one here and then. He can definitely write great stories indeed! Hope you have a good tome with it if you do pick it up. 😁

      Liked by 1 person

  • Very interesting, I like Carey, both his comics and novels (Felix Castor series – very good urban fantasy), so I’ll make a note to one day read this 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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