Filipe Melo and Juan Cavia’s graphic novel Ballad for Sophie is, for lack of a better word, a masterpiece. A truly and completely stunning masterpiece.
The story is set in two worlds, one in 1933 and one in 1997, and follows a young journalist on a quest to unearth the questionable history of retired world famous pianist Julien Dubois. Through a series of sit-down interviews with the reclusive musician, the journalist extracts an epic story of fame, rivalries, loss, and music.
What I found to be so striking about Melo and Cavia’s book is the way the illustrations seemed to leap off the page and hug me. They’re warm, both in color and in what they depict. Melo is a masterful storyteller, his narrative sending readers back and forth in time and wonderfully building tension and suspense at all the right moments. Alongside the language, Cavia’s illustrations are pungent with emotion, texture, and pigment. Coursing through the story are splashes of gold that give the often depressing story an atmosphere saturated with warmth.
As if this book was lacking in atmospheric elements, Filipe Melo wrote an original piece for Ballad for Sophie that beautifully accentuates the ending of the story. You can listen to it on Spotify.
The visual experience of this graphic novel is refrshing; I often find that while a graphic novels’ images may be high quality, the story they depict is not. That is not the case with Ballad for Sophie. Also, it’s being adapted into a television series, so get your hands on it before they release the show!
Nalini Singh is a well known paranormal romance author, as well as a contemporary romance author. I picked up her newest contemporary romance book, A Madness of Sunshine, recently and found the mystery crime novel with a dash of romance to be fascinating.
A Madness of Sunshine by Nalini Singh takes place in New Zealand (If you have the chance to listen to the audiobook, I recommend it!). Anahera Rawiri grew up in Golden Cove. She fled this small West Coast New Zealand town at twenty-one in order to escape poverty and the childhood ghosts that haunted her. With no plans to return, Anahera sets up a brand new life as a famous pianist with a well-known husband. Eight years later, she finds herself back in Golden Cove desperately seeking comfort in the familiar after her new life implodes around her.
This small town is full of people who trust each other. Friendship runs deep throughout Golden Cove, until one summer shatters the residents of Golden Cove and their peaceful lives apart. Looking into the disappearance of a local beautiful young woman named Miri Hinewai, residents and the lone police officer, Detective Will Gallagher, are left to wonder just how safe they really are. Rumors begin to circulate possibly connecting the recent disappearance and the years-old disappearances of other women. Will begins relying on Anahera’s knowledge of both the area and the residents to help him solve the crimes. The past and present start to collide the deeper Will digs and he starts thinking that Golden Cove may hide something more sinister than the rumors and darkness lurking in the shadows.