This month’s LSH challenge – to read a book with either the word “metal”, or a kind of metal in the title – was somewhat random, and I had no idea what I was going to pick up when I first ventured into the library… but I actually managed to find something reasonably quickly while perusing the (quite small) comic book section; that something was…
THE IRON WAGON
A short and strange graphic novel, based on the 1909 Norwegian novel Jernvognen by Stein Riverton, which has never been published in English. It tells the story of a writer whose friend is discovered murdered, and the investigation into his death – which seems like it may be tied to the local of the iron wagon.
The sentence “Why won’t he stay dead?” in the blurb of this book was what initially drew me to it, despite my general dislike of murder mysteries, and my indifference towards what I’d seen of the art style from a cursory flip-through. And, now that I’ve read it, my feelings towards it are slightly mixed… On the one hand, there was not much character depth or development, and I managed to guess both of the story’s major twists early on. On the other hand, I was second-guessing myself a lot, and although this wasn’t the ghost story I was hoping for, it did manage to retain the eerie atmosphere of one.
I’ve already said that the art didn’t initially grab me, but as I grew accustomed to it, I liked it more and more. I wan’t a huge fan of the character design – which completely gave away one of the book’s two plot twists – but the black-red-and-white colour palette was incredibly striking, and really added to the unsettling tone of the story…
I feel that this is a book to be enjoyed more for its strangeness than for its story or characters (or even art), but I did find that I enjoyed it. And, as a book that only takes around half an hour to read, it’s well worth picking up for anyone who’s even a little curious. I’m not sure that I’d be likely to go looking for more of Jason’s work (or Stein Riverton’s), but I also wouldn’t reject it out of hand.
[Find out more about the Library Scavenger Hunt by following this link!]