ADVANCED REVIEW: ‘Kerry and the Knight of the Forest’

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Kerry and the Knight of the Forest

Kerry and the Knight of the Forest is published by Random House Graphic. It was written and illustrated by Andi Watson. The story begins with a young boy moving hurriedly. He carries a satchel that holds something very important. He comes to a crossroads of a path through a great forest and one that leads around it. As he tries to decide which to take a child appears in the woods and coaxes him into entering.

Now in the woods, Kerry quickly loses his way. He soon comes across a sleeping form that is revealed to be a waystone known as The Knight of the Forest. Through some magic, the waystone is able to float and speak and it quickly cautions Kerry that he is in great danger. However, rather than leave him to his fate, the waystone joins him in his journey. Together the two set out to find a way out of the woods, though malevolent forces seek to stop them.

Kerry and the Knight of the Forest is, to put it simply, excellent. It carries all of the same whimsy and darkness as classic fairy tales. But it also holds messages that are exceedingly timely. Lessons like; you cause greater harm by doing nothing than acting even if the odds are against you.  It also praises the power of kindness and believing the best about those you’ve just met. Obviously these are common themes in children’s stories, but Watson nails the execution. Kerry is a sweet, trusting, and endearing character. Seeing the good he does affect the forest around him is a treat throughout the entirety of the story.

Speaking of seeing Kerry’s progress, Watson’s art in this book is an excellent partner to the story. The hand-drawn style compliments the fable-like quality of the story and the innocence of its protagonist. The art also helps give the story a hint of the necessary eeriness that fairy tales demand. Under Watson’s pen the woods are alive. The frequent panels of the trees and the darkness they conceal help to make the forest its own character. Additionally, the colors that they used provide a clever and subtle form of plot progression. As Kerry does good and makes progress deeper into the woods the palette lightens. There is more to this, but to explain that would spoil parts of the story that are better left to be discovered by the reader.Kerry and the Knight of the Forest

As I prepared for this review I kept stopping to try and research the story. It felt so thoroughly authentic as a fairy tale or fable that I thought it must have been based on something. While this could still be true, I was unable to find any evidence of an older story than what is on these pages. I say this because it exemplifies the excellent work Watson did with Kerry and the Knight of the Forest.

Kerry and the Knight of the Forest has everything you could hope for in a YA graphic novel. The characters are compelling, the art is wonderful, and the messages are clear and good. Watson absolutely nails the tone of classic fairy tales, but injects a modern edge to it as well. As a result we have a compelling, sweet, but still somewhat creepy fairy tale that is a joy to read. I give this story high marks and a high recommendation. Especially for fans of fantasy, and middle school-aged children.

Kerry and the Knight of the Forest
5

TL;DR

Kerry and the Knight of the Forest has everything you could hope for in a YA graphic novel. The characters are compelling, the art is wonderful, and the messages are clear and good. Watson absolutely nails the tone of classic fairy tales, but injects a modern edge to it as well.