THE LOST PATH by Amélie Fléchais
Art
Characterization
Plot
Summary
This beautiful work has so many layers, it's worth more than a single read. An imaginative adventure story, it is a real sight to behold.
98 %
Intricate and Imaginative
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THE LOST PATH by Amélie Fléchais is a true work of art. The story follows three children, all exceptionally distinct, as they attempt to follow a shortcut through an enchanted forest to win a treasure hunt. And, as you might expect — nothing goes according to plan.

The Map of THE LOST PATH

This book is gorgeous from the first page to the last, with so many tiny intricacies and hidden details. I’ve read the book four times and still feel as though I could find new things with each reading. The book begins with an incredibly intricate map titled “The Buddies’ Map.” This just looks to be some jumbled grouping of lines and figures. After reading the book all the way through, and seeing the map again at the end of the book, it has way more meaning than is first apparent. I love the care and time put into every little detail of this book, from beginning to end.

Fairy Tale Beginnings

The story begins with the beautiful telling of a fable about the forest. The work is reminiscent of illuminated manuscripts from the early centuries. It’s a lesser used comic style, but one that’s highly effective. This story depicts the story of a couple who decide to live in the forest. The story feels like a classic once-upon-a-time-sort of tale, though in more of a Brothers’ Grimm style. It gives us insight to the story of the three children that venture into the forest, while still feeling self-contained.

THE LOST PATH
Image courtesy of Lion Forge Comics.

The art of the fairy tale, too, is distinct from the rest of the story. It’s literally self-contained; the border creeps down the full-page art, starting with the first page, seen above. By the fourth and final page of the tale, the whole page is surrounded by the border. This parallels the fate of the couple and the forest’s full encompassing of them and their lives.

THE LOST PATH Begins

After the introductory fairy tale, we meet the three children as they’re headed through the forest on a treasure hunt. It’s a simple yet familiar twist on fairy tale tropes, leading children into a dark and sinister forest. Though the overarching plot can be simplified to something relatively familiar, the characters in the book are very unusual. That’s truly where this book shines.

The Characters of THE LOST PATH

Even though we never get the names of any of the characters in THE LOST PATH, we certainly pick up on their characteristics. The three boys are very distinct from each other, both in terms of the art and in terms of their personalities. One thinks of himself as the most superior of all the boys (and probably everyone else, too). One just wants to be home in time to watch DINOSAUR NINJA WARRIORS 2. The other fancies himself a robot.

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Their personalities are different, but the characters that they meet are much stranger. In this part of the forest, there are giant balls of fur with tiny legs that are called “sheep,” foxes in suits riding bicycles, and owls wearing moccasins. Each of these characters also has their own distinct personalities, even without having names or any of the three boys interacting with them.

The Winding Path

Every character feels very distinct and dynamic in terms of art, as well. Fléchais uses a mixture of black-and-white and color panels to create different moods throughout the book. At the beginning, she uses color to bring the reader into the forest with the children. She then promptly switches to black-and-white to enhance the daring and dangerous feelings of the forest itself. Whenever a new creature is introduced (like the giant moose wearing a bowler hat), she returns to color, bringing more life and magic back into the art. This is particularly effective on the splash pages, where one panel takes up the entire page.

THE LOST PATH
Image courtesy of Lion Forge Comics.

The absolute best use of art-style-switch, though, is when the narrative turns to the third child and the way he sees the world. He seems wholly convinced that he’s a robot, and those around him are, too, and the art one-hundred percent backs him up on this. His scenes are also in color, but in a different style, including different speech bubbles and lettering.

Let’s Go on an Adventure!

The book truly is a sight to behold. Each panel is incredibly intricate, which sometimes makes the story a bit difficult to follow. This is definitely a book to read through more than once, just to absorb every bit of its goodness. It also makes more sense the second time around (or more) because I was less focused on the creatures and more on what they were doing.

The plot itself is a really wonderful little story, though nothing is exceptionally surprising about it. It is a beautiful adventure fairy tale, even though all the imagination truly is in the world-building and characters and, of course, the art.

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Thoughts on THE LOST PATH

THE LOST PATH is, for me, just what I was looking for when I saw the cover of the book. It’s perfect for lovers of OVER THE GARDEN WALL or Brothers’ Grimm-esque small fairy tales. There’s nothing over-ambitious here; just a solid story with immense imagination and impeccable art.

THE LOST PATH will be available April 10, 2018. Pre-order it here or at your local comic shop.

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