Kids love mysteries. Encyclopedia Brown, Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys; the kids book section is filled with young detectives taking on mysteries and solving them. Bluewater Productions introduces a new girl super sleuth with more than beauty or brains. Violet Rose is a sixth grade detective with supernatural powers, living in a town that is far from normal, solving mysteries that are anything but ordinary.
Violet Rose #1-2
Writer: Emma Davis, Art: Brian Hess #2 Art: Bryan Golden
Bluewater Productions/2007-2008 ISBN: 649241851349(#2)
22 pgs, $3.50/ea
In the first issue, we meet Violet and follow her on a simple case of vandalism against a statue of the town founder, James Steven Willoughby. Violet dives right into the case, wondering around town, asking questions of people and things, including the vandalized statue. This story also introduces Bella Donna and Valerya Thorne. We are told they are Yagas, dark beings from Russian folklore, and the sworn enemies of the Roses. The case is quickly solved, but the issue ends with a sort of epilogue to clue us into a larger plot growing from the mysteries.
Issue 2 has Violet, Kale, and Lindsey going to a carnival that has arrived in town. Things have been going missing from the customers, including a teddy bear Kale won right from his hands. Violet takes to the case immediately and is helped by a mysterious girl who seems to lead Violet and her friends to the culprit. A few more clues are dropped about Violet and that there is a role for her to fulfill.
Violet Rose is a good idea with some interesting characters, but there are some serious problems with the execution. In the first story, Violet spends most of her time with Kale and Lindsey, but never once are their names mentioned in the book. That’s a big omission that should have been caught in editing. In the second issue, Violet calls Kale her "brother", but there’s no indication of her having a brother in the first issue. We are told her parents died when she was young, so she barely remembers them. These basic inconsistencies make it hard to take the stories seriously, and it’s Bluewater I would blame for them. A good editor should have caught them a fixed them. With a minimum of a year between solicitations, that should be possible.
Otherwise, the stories are well structured, with the mysteries simple enough to solve with overcomplicated reasoning. The characters are well written too, with little stereotyping except in Bella Donna Thorpe. As a one of the villains, she is a typically haughty, spoiled child. But she hasn’t shown up much. Just to implant the idea that the Yagas are behind the mystery, even if not directly. There is nothing inappropriate for young readers in these stories, so parents can feel safe giving them to their mystery loving kids.
The art in the first issue is good. It’s got the animated look without feeling kidish. Brian Hess has a good feel for the characters and draws them accordingly. He does the cover for the second issue which makes opening it a shock. Bryan Golden’s style is a pseudo-manga look. Everyone’s eyes are big, taking up 2/3 of their face. It also looks like it should be for young kids. It isn’t bad, but after Brian Hess’ work, it just doesn’t feel appropriate.
Violet Rose has the potential to be a really good detective story for kids. Violet is a great lead, and there is just enough clues being given out about a larger arc to keep you interested. But Bluewater really needs to improve it’s editing and not try to pander to the manga reading audience with changing to a pseudo manga art style. The story can stand on it’s own, if they would let it.
All images copyright © Bluewater Productions