Unholy Kinship by Naomi Nowak Graphic Novel Review

Title:  Unholy Kinship

Author:  Naomi Nowak

Publisher: NBM

ISBN:  1561634824

May Contain Spoilers

Luca has been caring for her unstable sister ever since their mother was institutionalized.  Their father, a psychologist, died when she was 10.  When Gae, her sister, begins to display more signs of her mental illness, Luca struggles to keep them together, and to understand the link between her sister’s ramblings and the death of their father.

At 112 pages, I felt that this story could have been lengthened, which would have made it less confusing.  It felt unfinished, and there are subplots that needed to be tied up.  Story threads were introduced, and then just left hanging, like the cause of their father’s death.  Were the monkeys just a psychotic episode that Luca shared with her sister, or were they real?  Was her mother really mentally ill or was St Mark’s Asylum trying to keep the results of the her parents’ research a secret?

Throughout the book, we witness Luca’s difficulty forming attachments with other people.  When her only friend sets her up on a double date, she ends up going home with Matt, drunk.  That night, she starts having dreams about talking monkeys (er, yes, that’s a little weird).  When she avoids Matt, she puts stress on her friendship with Jasmine, whose boyfriend is pissed that Luca won’t take Matt’s phone calls. So, Jasmine will no longer speak to her, which further isolates Luca.

As Gae’s condition seems to worsen, St Mark’s Asylum scares Luca with their concern that Gae will soon sink into an uncommunicative state like their mother.  They assign a nurse to the case, who comes over every day, medicating Gae.  The sisters are rarely given the opportunity to be alone together, and when they are Gae is more often than not in an incoherent state.  When Luca tricks the nurse so that Gae misses her evening dose of medications, Gae lets Luca in on a secret she’s been keeping since the death of their father. 

The book is presented in full color, on glossy pages.  While I found the character designs a little odd, I liked the color combinations the author used to illustrate her story.  The art was easy to follow, and the page layouts were varied.  The shapes and sizes of the panels worked together to keep the story visually interesting.  I didn’t care for the hand-lettering; because of spacing, sometimes it was hard to read.

Unholy Kinship is the account of a woman who is surrounded by instability, and her attempt to keep a grip on reality. 

 Grade:  C

Review copy provided by NMB Publishing.