AUTHOR & ARTIST: EMILY MCGOVERN | PUBLISHER: SIMON & SCHUSTER UK | FORMAT: PAPERBACK | RELEASE DATE: SEPTEMBER 19TH
Emily McGovern is perhaps best known for her popular web-series, My Life as a Background Slytherin, which is a series of short gag strips using striking but minimalist art and a quick wit to deliver cheeky laughs. McGovern’s latest project steers away from magic-using school children and into something far more wholesome: literature set during the tail end of Regency Britain. Oh and vampires, of course.
Bloodlust and Bonnets is a genuinely hilarious take on that type of romantic literature that tends to involve men of good fortune who are in want of a wife. Our hero is Lucy, a young redhaired lady who is very, very good at dealing with boring suitors, especially ones that are secretly vampires. One bloodbath later and Lucy is recruited by notorious vampire annoyer Lord Byron (“you know, from books”) and then the two fly away to Byron’s Scottish castle on the back of Byron’s psychic eagle, Napoleon. That isn’t the whole book by the way, that’s the first three pages.
Byron and Lucy are joined by Sham, an aloof vampire hunter with a mysterious past and a total immunity to taking the hint. Any one of these three heroes could be the main character of the story, a point that the trio bicker about frequently. None of these adventurers has any wisdom, lacking all sense (and sensibility) and being filled with too much pride (though not much prejudice). The team might be described as a love triangle if any of them knew how angles worked. They flirt from ridiculous adventure to ridiculous adventure, failing to kill vampires and always raising a smile.
The narrative is funny and more of a series of slapstick gags and silly set-ups than an actual plot. This is fine, it’s the sort of graphic novel you read, chuckle along with, and then put down again before diving in for another giggle. The art style is distinctive and comedic. The character design is spot on, and the work is consistent throughout. It’s a slightly abstract style that also lends itself to slapstick very well; detailed enough to be distinctive and straight-forward enough to not get in the way of the humour.
Bloodlust and Bonnets will delight Jane Austen fans with a sense of humour and anyone who likes their gags with a touch of the supernatural. It’s a little bit too adult for younger audiences, but a hoot for everyone else.