Gunnerkrigg Court, Volume 1: Orientation
Written and Illustrated by Thomas Siddell
I’m certain without looking that someone somewhere has already compared Gunnerkrigg Court to Harry Potter. I imagine that someone somewhere may have even called it the next Harry Potter, because that thought crossed my mind too. I hope that no one’s called it a rip-off of Harry Potter, because that would be grossly unfair.
It’s impossible to ignore the superficial similarities. For one thing, there’s the concept of a young person’s entering a strange and wonderful school – divided into four “houses” even – where her parents once played important roles in the institution’s history. For another, there’s the structure of following this student through her academic career with each volume covering a single school year. But the story unfolding in Gunnerkrigg Court is very much it’s own, unique thing. There’s no particular significance given to which house characters belong to (at least not in this volume), none of the characters parallel JK Rowling’s, and Antimony Carver isn’t some kind of messianic wonderchild. She’s an outsider to most of the goings on at the school, but none of the other students single her out or bully her. They’re not always friendly to her, but that isn’t a significant focus of the story. Student politics aren’t even a consideration.
Antimony – or Annie, as her new friend Kat calls her – is a quiet, pleasant girl. She’s lonely, but not angsty about it. Having lost her mother at a young age and been shipped off to boarding school by her distant father, she seems to have accepted that that’s how life is for her. Her relationship with Kat is important to her though and reveals that she’s not content with being alone. The two girls share a profound friendship that’s sweet and funny. This optimistic attitude is something else that Annie has in common with Harry Potter, but her early experiences at the school separate her from him again.
Minotaurs, clockwork birds, ghosts, gods, and faeries after the break.