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Isola, Vol. 1

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An evil spell has been cast on the Queen of Maar and her Captain of the Guard will do anything to reverse it. Their only hope lies on an island half a world away--a place known in myth as Isola, land of the dead. Gotham Academy creators Brenden Fletcher and Karl Kerschl reunite with series colorist MSASSYK and letterer Aditya Bidikar for a breathtaking fantasy adventure two An evil spell has been cast on the Queen of Maar and her Captain of the Guard will do anything to reverse it. Their only hope lies on an island half a world away--a place known in myth as Isola, land of the dead. Gotham Academy creators Brenden Fletcher and Karl Kerschl reunite with series colorist MSASSYK and letterer Aditya Bidikar for a breathtaking fantasy adventure two decades in the making. Recommended for fans of Studio Ghibli and the work of Hayao Miyazaki. Collects issues 1 through 5.


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An evil spell has been cast on the Queen of Maar and her Captain of the Guard will do anything to reverse it. Their only hope lies on an island half a world away--a place known in myth as Isola, land of the dead. Gotham Academy creators Brenden Fletcher and Karl Kerschl reunite with series colorist MSASSYK and letterer Aditya Bidikar for a breathtaking fantasy adventure two An evil spell has been cast on the Queen of Maar and her Captain of the Guard will do anything to reverse it. Their only hope lies on an island half a world away--a place known in myth as Isola, land of the dead. Gotham Academy creators Brenden Fletcher and Karl Kerschl reunite with series colorist MSASSYK and letterer Aditya Bidikar for a breathtaking fantasy adventure two decades in the making. Recommended for fans of Studio Ghibli and the work of Hayao Miyazaki. Collects issues 1 through 5.

30 review for Isola, Vol. 1

  1. 5 out of 5

    Shannon

    Beautiful art with an engaging story. Individual issue reviews: #1 | #2 | #3 | #4 | #5 Total review score: 4

  2. 5 out of 5

    Wing Kee

    Wonderful art, choppy story. World: The art is fantastic, it looks gorgeous and reminds me of a western take on Ghibli and Miyazaki art. There are hints of Nausicaa in the wall paintings and books and Rook and her journey looks straight ripped from Princess Mononoke so yeah, you know what they say about imitation and flattery. The world building here is choppy at best. There are flash backs but the world is almost constantly dream like and not and the transitions in the art is not clear so when t Wonderful art, choppy story. World: The art is fantastic, it looks gorgeous and reminds me of a western take on Ghibli and Miyazaki art. There are hints of Nausicaa in the wall paintings and books and Rook and her journey looks straight ripped from Princess Mononoke so yeah, you know what they say about imitation and flattery. The world building here is choppy at best. There are flash backs but the world is almost constantly dream like and not and the transitions in the art is not clear so when there is no info dumping or context set up reader do feel lost in the world. There are snippets of info here and there and in the end you do work it out a bit but the lost feeling is not a welcome one, I didn't feel swept away into another world I just felt like I was jerked around or the writing wanted to withhold things to make it more interesting but it just lost it's magic more than anything. I had a similar feeling with 'Monstress' also but I felt it was a bit more here. Of course you can say that Ghibli world building is mostly visual and readers and viewers are taken on a journey and the creative team possibly was trying to do the same thing here, but here it felt choppy. Story: Readers have no idea what's happening until almost midway through the 3rd issue and for the most part the first half of the book seems dreamlike and I know that it's the intention of the creative team but I didn't feel swept away I felt like I was wearing a blindfold forced by the writers to make the story more magical than it needs to be. I don't know how to explain it but the story was already magical enough for me and the art, as beautiful as it was, didn't really transition well between real and fake and the magic was not all hitting home for me. The story when it does finally pick up is very basic and this is more like a prologue in a story more than the journey. This is pretty much like the middle section of Princess Monoke when they are in the forest and Ashitaka is lost there, that's what the book is going for but there is not enough emotional substance for us to care for the characters because we don't get to spend time with them to build a bond before the dreamscape stuff happens. Ashitake had the village and the curse and the monster fight before he left on his journey, I think if we had something similar here than readers would be more invested in the characters moving forward. Characters: The characters look interesting that's for sure. Moro however looks too similar to the clansman and the art did no favours to differentiate them. Rook is an interesting character but there is not a lot of depth there and there is no reason for her devotion to the Queen and it's barely touched upon by the writers but readers are expected to accept it and feel emotions. The Queen also has little to no development save the one scene in the throne when she turns and once again we are suppose to feel for them. The rest of the cast are there to bulk up the story much like Moro is suppose to be the interesting weird guide that we see a lot of in literature and anime/manga. Shallow. An interesting prologue of a first book that looks gorgeous but is shallow and empty inside. I'm sad. Onward to the next book! *read individual issues*

  3. 4 out of 5

    Devann

    Definitely an interesting concept and a solid beginning, although there wasn't really a lot of explanation so I was a bit confused at times. Still, the art is absolutely gorgeous and I'm sure we'll get more into the mechanics of the plot in the next volume so I'm looking forward to continuing with this.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Dani - Perspective of a Writer

    Check out more manga and graphic novel reviews @ Perspective of a Writer... The Queen of Maar, Olwyn, has had a transformation spell cast on her, a curse that her Captain of the Guard, Rook, is desperate to reverse. It is said that half a world away there is hope, in a place known as Isola, land of the dead... if they can get there alive, without anyone realizing who the cat is! We begin at the start of a potentially long, long journey. The Captain of a queen is on a quest and we learn through th Check out more manga and graphic novel reviews @ Perspective of a Writer... The Queen of Maar, Olwyn, has had a transformation spell cast on her, a curse that her Captain of the Guard, Rook, is desperate to reverse. It is said that half a world away there is hope, in a place known as Isola, land of the dead... if they can get there alive, without anyone realizing who the cat is! We begin at the start of a potentially long, long journey. The Captain of a queen is on a quest and we learn through the blurb or through the course of the 5 collected issues (if you forgot the blurb before reading it like I did) that her queen is cursed. How we learn eventually and it is all due to family, of course. The journey is fraught with danger as the Captain works to stay at her queen's side. It's a fascinating beginning. I'm not sure that I'm clear of everything that happened, especially about the curse but I want to know more. I've been hooked with this start. I found the introduced characters quite fascinating. Rook, the Captain, seems to have feelings beyond that of a guard for her queen, so we are looking at a F/F relationship here. It's shown us in a rather lovely, and subtle way that I found the most enjoyable and heartfelt. The queen introduces us to her family and boy is it a rocky relationship! I found this the most confusing because I didn't understand the motivation but that may have been the point too, just that Olwyn was betrayed by someone she should have been able to trust. I ADORE Pring, a crazy old dude that has had a rather twisted life up to this point and adds a bit of a twist to Rook's life as well! I enjoyed his role and how mysterious he was as we slowly learned more. The art is gorgeous! I love how the light changed the base colors of scenes to green, blue, orange... It just really worked for me. I also adored how things were framed, this can be quite a dynamic part of the art and that is the case for Isola vol 1 as well. Sometimes I wished they'd focus on the bigger scene more often, but that is a minor complaint really. It feels very much like an anime as you read and the frames help showcase what is happening moment by moment. In this case the art really supported the story, rather than the story being an excuse for the art. And I really appreciated that depth! Honestly the tension was probably the biggest let down for me. I kept reading as a feverish pace because I wanted to understand what was going on. It was a big puzzle at first, so there really wasn't enough information for me to be tense. There is a dream sequence right at the beginning that was confusing more than tense. There was this little skip because I was too clueless to understand. Despite this hiccup I really enjoyed the plot and was totally committed to Olwyn and Rook succeeding in their mission. Isola vol 1 is a fascinating start to a diverse fantasy graphic novel series. I am captured by Rook's dedication to Olwyn as well as the puzzle of what caused Olwyn to find herself transformed into a tiger. The characters we've met long the way have also intrigued me, populating this supernatural world with compelling conflict and obstacles for our pair. ⋆ ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Authenticity ⋆ ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Tension ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Plot ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Art Thanks to Edelweiss and Diamond Books for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review. It has not influenced my opinions. ______________________ You can find this review and many others on my book blog @ Perspective of a Writer. See my manga and graphic novel reviews in a special feature called Saturday Morning Cartoons... Please like this review if you enjoyed it! *bow* *bow* It helps me out a ton!!

  5. 5 out of 5

    James DeSantis

    Isola was a series I kept wanting to read and when I finally saw it up on Hoopla I had to read it. Was it worth the wait? Well... Isola is about a warrior protecting her queen. You've seen this story a million times before. However, this time her queen is transformed into a tiger. So now they work together to survive in a world hellbent on taking them out. Will they survive or is this the end for our duo? Good: the art. Just...wow. Art can go a long way to improve a series and this one does. I al Isola was a series I kept wanting to read and when I finally saw it up on Hoopla I had to read it. Was it worth the wait? Well... Isola is about a warrior protecting her queen. You've seen this story a million times before. However, this time her queen is transformed into a tiger. So now they work together to survive in a world hellbent on taking them out. Will they survive or is this the end for our duo? Good: the art. Just...wow. Art can go a long way to improve a series and this one does. I also thought the struggle of protecting someone you love is great. You feel actual stakes. Bad: the story sometimes is hard to follow. Creatures and mystical people and beast pop out of nowhere. Also, it does hit one or two cliche moments that make it feel less interesting if it went in a different direction. Overall this is a stunning book to look out. While I enjoy the characters I do hope for the plotting to become stronger. A 3.5 out of 5.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Roy

    The art in this blew me away. Such amazing colours and art. The story doesnt give alot away until middle of the book. It provided enough to stem my interest for future novels. It had a weird Studio Ghibli final fantasy vibe mixed with Pocahontas.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jakub Kvíz

    Tohle je spis 3,5*, na 4* to uplne neni, protoze se priznam ze se v deji dost ztracim. Nevim jestli mi pro uplny pochopeni chybi ty kratky pribehy, ktery vychazel ve Fletcherove predchozi serii Motor Crush, ale moudrej z toho nejsem. Nicmene vizualne je to absoluni vrchol. Nadherna kresba, super atmosferickej coloring a kreativni lettering. Celkovej design jednotlivejch sesitu je absolutni vrchol toho, co se da z “papiru” vymackat. Treba na druhy precteni to do sebe vic zapadne, ale zatim tomu nem Tohle je spis 3,5*, na 4* to uplne neni, protoze se priznam ze se v deji dost ztracim. Nevim jestli mi pro uplny pochopeni chybi ty kratky pribehy, ktery vychazel ve Fletcherove predchozi serii Motor Crush, ale moudrej z toho nejsem. Nicmene vizualne je to absoluni vrchol. Nadherna kresba, super atmosferickej coloring a kreativni lettering. Celkovej design jednotlivejch sesitu je absolutni vrchol toho, co se da z “papiru” vymackat. Treba na druhy precteni to do sebe vic zapadne, ale zatim tomu nemuzu dat s cistym svedomi vic :).

  8. 5 out of 5

    Alex B

    Art - Beautiful, gorgeous, stunning, incredible, colourful, smart, and jaw-dropping. Story - Beautiful, gorgeous, stunning, incredible, colourful, smart, and jaw-dropping.

  9. 4 out of 5

    The Lost Dreamer

    Definitely one of the comic books I've enjoyed most this year. It has everything I love: addictive and bright colouring, dynamic drawing, some mytery and a subtle but heart-warming romance. This is the kind of American comic that tries to imitate Japanese pieces, like the ones produced by Studio Ghibli. Normally these attempts lack of a good plot or the art necessary to produce any emotion. For me, 'Isola' is not the case: its plot, although quite simple and avoiding of any explanation or worldb Definitely one of the comic books I've enjoyed most this year. It has everything I love: addictive and bright colouring, dynamic drawing, some mytery and a subtle but heart-warming romance. This is the kind of American comic that tries to imitate Japanese pieces, like the ones produced by Studio Ghibli. Normally these attempts lack of a good plot or the art necessary to produce any emotion. For me, 'Isola' is not the case: its plot, although quite simple and avoiding of any explanation or worldbuilding, has captured me like few in the last months. What can I say? It's just BEAUTIFUL. Thrilling and full of emotions and beautiful images. Sometimes you don't need anymore than that. Probably any following issues will spoil the magic trying to provide explanations to every single twist or spending too much time building the world that our soldier and our queen inhabit. But, by now, this has been lovely. An easy reading full of imagination that just feels right.

  10. 4 out of 5

    -RadioactiveBookworm-

    "Isola" is a haunting and beautifully done comic following a queen and her guard. Though I'm not really sure how to describe the kind of story this is, there's a lot going on and yet there's not a lot of information about it. A woman who will do all she can to protect her queen, who's a lion for most of the story. It's bloody and violent at times, but for most of it I kind of just felt like I was dreaming. Is that weird to say? That's the only way I can describe it. I loved it. Check out my full "Isola" is a haunting and beautifully done comic following a queen and her guard. Though I'm not really sure how to describe the kind of story this is, there's a lot going on and yet there's not a lot of information about it. A woman who will do all she can to protect her queen, who's a lion for most of the story. It's bloody and violent at times, but for most of it I kind of just felt like I was dreaming. Is that weird to say? That's the only way I can describe it. I loved it. Check out my full review here! https://radioactivebookreviews.wordpr...

  11. 5 out of 5

    Axel J. J.

    more like a 4.5 out of 5, strong start and a solid premise wrapped up in gorgeous art and storytelling. very much looking forward to the next part of the story.

  12. 5 out of 5

    charlotte

    WHAT do u mean january 2019

  13. 5 out of 5

    Kend

    You know, this didn't make perfect sense to me at first, but as the issues went on the plot fell into place. And the visuals are GAWGEOUS, DARLING. And there's very definitely a queer interracial relationship going on, which sensitively and beautifully written. Here. For. IT.

  14. 5 out of 5

    kynndra-jo

    Such beautiful art. I'm just getting into the comic world and I'm leaning towards more outlandish type comics that don't delve down the super hero lane. Definitely looking forward to this one!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Theediscerning

    A young woman adventurer is accompanying a tiger across the countryside on a quest. Just why she's all alone with the big cat, and why she calls it a Majesty and her Queen, may or may not be covered in these pages. That initial beginning certainly proves to be a key to a very mystical fantasy realm, and a very visually attractive one, too. There may be a little too much of the mystical other-worlds and semi-English hokum from one character in particular on these pages, but the clarity of the pie A young woman adventurer is accompanying a tiger across the countryside on a quest. Just why she's all alone with the big cat, and why she calls it a Majesty and her Queen, may or may not be covered in these pages. That initial beginning certainly proves to be a key to a very mystical fantasy realm, and a very visually attractive one, too. There may be a little too much of the mystical other-worlds and semi-English hokum from one character in particular on these pages, but the clarity of the piece doesn't suffer too much. It's a very engaging read, and with those looks this is a book well worth checking out. A strong four stars.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Harry Jahnke

    I enjoyed this very much. Unlike a lot of fantasy books I've read, it didn't spend a long time explaining the history and rules of this universe, it just kind of throws you in. And yet, I never really felt lost. A lot of things get conveyed with very little dialogue or background which is kind of ingenious if you ask me. Highly recommend for fans of Saga waiting for the hiatus to be over.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Simon

    While this would have been nothing new in book form, a fantasy comic is, sadly, a bit of a rare beast and seeing even a simple story like this is a pleasant surprise. Especially when it feels fleshed out right away, in no small part thanks to lively language with sprinkles of slang here and there. While the art makes it all feel, at times, a bit too cartoonish, the book is definitely not afraid to get dark when necessary. For me, this had especially strong vibes of Benedict Patrick's stuff, name While this would have been nothing new in book form, a fantasy comic is, sadly, a bit of a rare beast and seeing even a simple story like this is a pleasant surprise. Especially when it feels fleshed out right away, in no small part thanks to lively language with sprinkles of slang here and there. While the art makes it all feel, at times, a bit too cartoonish, the book is definitely not afraid to get dark when necessary. For me, this had especially strong vibes of Benedict Patrick's stuff, namely his first book in Yarnsworld - They Mostly Come Out At Night. It's the same dark fantasy type of storytelling that mixes down-to-earth characters such as roving hunter packs with insane magic like people stitching crow wings onto their hands. More of this, please.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Austin

    Gorgeous, but abstruse. We're thrown into the deep end without much - if any - story-telling aid, and while we're a little ways further down the road at the end of volume 1, this fantastical world and the creatures within are still largely obscured. Kerschl's art excels, as always, and the story has enough bite to intrigue the reader, but if answers and broad sketches don't appear soon, this one will drop. Obscurity for obscurity's sake only serves to annoy, and readers need to know we're going so Gorgeous, but abstruse. We're thrown into the deep end without much - if any - story-telling aid, and while we're a little ways further down the road at the end of volume 1, this fantastical world and the creatures within are still largely obscured. Kerschl's art excels, as always, and the story has enough bite to intrigue the reader, but if answers and broad sketches don't appear soon, this one will drop. Obscurity for obscurity's sake only serves to annoy, and readers need to know we're going somewhere eventually.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Yves Loomans

    Made me think of Princess Mononoke but without the ecological aspect. Including the most poetic and gorgeous art you’ll find this year.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Candace Nicole

    it's so pretty and i like it a lot but wHaT tHe hEcK iS gOiN oN

  21. 5 out of 5

    Chris Lemmerman

    [Read as single issues] Here’s a question that I’m sure a lot of people have pondered over across the years – “What do you do when your Queen is transformed into a navy blue tiger, and your entire kingdom has fallen apart around you?” If you answered “Go on a quest to a mystical land called Isola, in hopes that it can cure the Queen, who can then in turn save the kingdom”, then you’re a liar, and/or you’ve read this book already. Isola, the new epic from the Gotham Academy team of Brendan Fletche [Read as single issues] Here’s a question that I’m sure a lot of people have pondered over across the years – “What do you do when your Queen is transformed into a navy blue tiger, and your entire kingdom has fallen apart around you?” If you answered “Go on a quest to a mystical land called Isola, in hopes that it can cure the Queen, who can then in turn save the kingdom”, then you’re a liar, and/or you’ve read this book already. Isola, the new epic from the Gotham Academy team of Brendan Fletcher and Karl Kerschl, is unapologetic in its density. I’d liken it to Monstress, in that you’re thrown immediately into the action and left to work out what the hell is going on, how this world works, and what happened before the series started to get the characters into the situations that we find them in as the series begins. There are questions that get answered across these first five issues – there are questions that are not. But the world of Isola will suck you in like nothing else, and you’ll definitely want to find out those answers. This is because the two lead characters are so compelling, especially once you come to realise that there’s more to their relationship than just Queen and subject and, considering the fact that one of the lead characters can’t even talk, I’d say it’s a huge achievement that I was so invested in them by the end. The huge draw for me personally was the artwork; Karl Kerschl’s beautiful foregrounds are once again enhanced by Msyssk’s gorgeous backdrops, and there are some panels in this series that will make your jaw drop. The colours are so vivid, and the expressions on the characters are sublime – this is again prevalent with the character of the Queen; you’ll be surprised by how expressive a tiger face can be. Honestly, this is just a feast for the eyeballs, even if you don’t read any of the words. Isola is a mystery wrapped in an enigma, but you’ll want to peel back all of the layers and discover what’s going on at its core. For the first time in a long time, I want to re-read the trade once it’s released, to see if any of the earlier issues reveal anything more given what we see in the later ones. With fabulous art and two lead characters that manage to say so much without saying a word, Isola is another hit for Image, and a home run for this tried and true creative team.

  22. 5 out of 5

    A.

    This new comic-book series (this volume collects issues 1-5) creates a lush and immersive fantasy world. The use of color is just out of this world. I appreciate that the characters are drawn with a variety of skin tones, there are powerful women in this story, and the only romance hinted at so far is between two women. But...the plot is pretty confusing. Here's what I think is happening so far: the queen's brother (who may have been a ghost, or maybe was human) turns the queen into a tiger and This new comic-book series (this volume collects issues 1-5) creates a lush and immersive fantasy world. The use of color is just out of this world. I appreciate that the characters are drawn with a variety of skin tones, there are powerful women in this story, and the only romance hinted at so far is between two women. But...the plot is pretty confusing. Here's what I think is happening so far: the queen's brother (who may have been a ghost, or maybe was human) turns the queen into a tiger and then is killed by the captain of the queen's guard (who may also be her lover). Now the captain is trying to take the queen (in the form of a blue tiger) to Isola, a mythical island of the dead, in order to try to turn her back into a human. There is some sort of war brewing, and there's some sort of shaman (maybe?) who has forced himself upon the captain and queen in their quest and seems to know more than he's letting on. But things seem to be happening on multiple planes or realities, and there are people maybe who can turn into animals (or perhaps just work with big animal beings), and there are clans and factions that seem to have names but I don't really know what they're about yet.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Adam Stone

    This is a gorgeous book of myth, love, and spirits that suffers from one of my least favorite tropes: using dreams in place of metaphor or narrative. The concept of a soldier on a mission to protect her queen, who is currentloy in the form of a tiger, is intriguing, but the conceit of fogweed making it so that the reader doesn't know whether the character is halucinating feels ill-used in this collection. Twice within a few pages, the reader is confronted with a major death that comes out of nowh This is a gorgeous book of myth, love, and spirits that suffers from one of my least favorite tropes: using dreams in place of metaphor or narrative. The concept of a soldier on a mission to protect her queen, who is currentloy in the form of a tiger, is intriguing, but the conceit of fogweed making it so that the reader doesn't know whether the character is halucinating feels ill-used in this collection. Twice within a few pages, the reader is confronted with a major death that comes out of nowhere, and isn't real. I still recommend this book, as Karl Kerschl and Msassyk's art, from pencils to coloring, is exquisite. It's a five star art book.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Paul Decker

    *I received this book as an eARC from Image Comics via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review* I really enjoyed this story. It's so fantastical. The artwork is beautiful. The design of the characters and the animals are great. The animals remind me of those in Avatar: The Last Airbender. There is no exposition in this book. You're thrown into the situation and have to figure out what's exactly happening. For some fantasy stories, there's so much info dumping. Not in this story. I give this bo *I received this book as an eARC from Image Comics via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review* I really enjoyed this story. It's so fantastical. The artwork is beautiful. The design of the characters and the animals are great. The animals remind me of those in Avatar: The Last Airbender. There is no exposition in this book. You're thrown into the situation and have to figure out what's exactly happening. For some fantasy stories, there's so much info dumping. Not in this story. I give this book a 5/5. Great Storytelling. Gay romance. Beautiful artwork. A journey in a Fantasy world.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Emmy Neal

    Beautiful art, dynamic heroines, and hints at interesting worldbuilding. I love when fantasy lets you learn through action rather than explaining things to you that the characters should already know, but there was a little too much mystery behind the different clans/hunters/tribes which made it difficult to track the pacing. The illustrations kept me glued in to the book, even when the plot got away from me. I can see this series becoming far more popular when the next volume is available to ha Beautiful art, dynamic heroines, and hints at interesting worldbuilding. I love when fantasy lets you learn through action rather than explaining things to you that the characters should already know, but there was a little too much mystery behind the different clans/hunters/tribes which made it difficult to track the pacing. The illustrations kept me glued in to the book, even when the plot got away from me. I can see this series becoming far more popular when the next volume is available to hand us more answers.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Jon Allanson

    This is one of the most beautiful comics I've ever read. The art is simply breathtaking. It is a complex fantasy tale, with little bits of info teased out as you read through the story. Nothing that struck me as simply repeating a trope - a rich tapestry of a world that you are right in the middle of, with sumptuous visuals of real and spirit creatures and landscapes. I highly recommend it.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Josh

    Beautiful art, but not a ton of story. Issues fly by quickly without much plot progression. Still worth a look because it's gorgeous and the minimalist story remains interesting throughout.

  28. 5 out of 5

    John

    If your looking for something new and different this book is for you.

  29. 5 out of 5

    t.i.m

    Confused AF, but I like it.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Megan

    Original fantasy world. Beautiful colors. Only snippets of the story are revealed so far, but enough to make me want to keep reading and find out more.

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