A middle-school series of graphic novels destined to sit on shelves beside Harry Potter, The Wizard of Oz and The Chronicles of Narnia, Kazu Kibuishi’s Amulet sees two young siblings unwittingly pulled into an alternate world full of magic, and airships, and talking robots, and sentient animals, and an evil that must be stopped … at all costs.
In 2013, I bought the seven-volume 15th Anniversary Special Edition re-release of the Harry Potter series solely because I was infatuated with the re-designed covers by Kazu Kibuishi. I’d only read the first two novels of the series, but I had to have that set. To this day, it’s still my favorite cover art of all time.
I hadn’t any idea who Kazu Kibuishi was. But when I found out that he was the author of his own middle-grade adventure series of graphic novels called Amulet, I jumped at the chance to marvel at his art 192 pages at a time. I picked up the first volume of the series on a whim and before I knew it I’d read the first three books in a matter of days (which, in all honesty, isn’t much of a feat; they’re pretty breezy). I was overjoyed to discover that he’s a pretty talented storyteller, to boot.
With Amulet I found a combination of Wizard of Oz, The Chronicles of Narnia, Star Wars, and Teddy Ruxpin all rolled into one. That’s basically the holy trinity of my childhood, and it seems to have been Kibuishi’s, too. He’s captured all the fun and grandeur and otherness of those series, while putting a pretty unique spin on it. Amulet is all his own.
The Story of Amulet
The series (which will ultimately span nine volumes, six of which have been released) is about a young girl named Emily and her younger brother Navin and their adventures in the strange world of Alledia.
In Book One, The Stonekeeper, Emily and Navin move with their mother to the home of her deceased great-grandfather, after the tragic death of their father. But the strange house proves to be dangerous. Before long, a sinister creature lures the kids’ mom through a door in the basement. Em and Navin, desperate not to lose her, follow her into an alternate, underground world inhabited by demons, robots, and talking animals. Eventually, they enlist the help of a small mechanical rabbit named Miskit. Together, they face the most terrifying monster of all, and Emily is granted the power, and the second chance, to save someone she loves.
In Book Two, The Stonekeeper’s Curse, Emily and Navin head for Kanalis, a beautiful and mysterious city of waterfalls, where they hope to find the antidote for the poison that is killing their mother. That cure lies in the eggs of a giant serpent atop Demon’s Head Mountain, but the kids’ archenemy, the elf prince Trellis, is headed for the peak, too. A battle that will engulf all of Kanalis is looming, and it’s up to Emily, and the power of her magical amulet, to triumph over evil while controlling the amulet’s seemingly sinister agenda.
By Book Three, The Cloud Searchers, Emily and Navin have become central Alledia’s impending war. Emily, Navin, and their crew of resistance fighters charter an airship and set off in search of the lost city of Cielis. There, they hope to find help from the Guardian Council’s powerful Stonekeepers, five rulers who wield magical amulets of their own. It’s a mission that Alledia’s survival depends on, and time is running out. Emily has to find Cielis before the evil Elf King finds her first.
Why You Should Read It
Much like Harry Potter, Amulet‘s progression speaks to the fact that its readers are growing up with this story. Each volume becomes more complex and more forbidding, which is really exciting as a reader. You know that with each story you’re going to be pulled deeper and deeper into this world, and the conflicts and stakes are going to get bigger and better each time. All three volumes have gotten better, and from what I’ve heard, volume four is where the series really takes off.
Thus far, Amulet is great, but it’s just shy of being a middle-school masterpiece. However, I have every confidence in Kibuishi’s ability to deliver on the promise I felt back on page 1 of the very first volume. I trust in his vision, and can’t wait to see where he takes us.
The story is meant for middle school kids, but like any truly great children’s tale, it can be enjoyed just as much by adults as well. I am loving this series so much. Enough that I’m a little upset that I’m going to eventually catch up on all the released books and will have to agonizingly wait for the final three volumes to come out over the next three years. But that’ll just give me time to re-read them before each release. Yes, they’re that much fun.
If you’re looking for a really fun adventure story with magic and evil elves and walking houses and airships and a talking swordmaster fox, then give Amulet a go. It’s a super quick read, but please take the time to soak in Kibuishi’s art. It’s stunning. Every page is gorgeous. But also fun, and whimsical. Just like The Wizard of Oz. And Star Wars. And The Chronicles of Narnia. And yes, even Teddy Ruxpin.