Acclaimed creator Kaoru Mori (Emma, Shirley) brings the nineteenth-century Silk Road to lavish life, chronicling the story of Amir Halgal, a young woman from a nomadic tribe betrothed to a twelve-year-old boy eight years her junior. Coping with cultural differences, blossoming feelings for her new husband, and expectations from both her adopted and birth families, Amir strives to find her role as she settles into a new life and a new home in a society quick to define that role for her.(Description from inside cover)
Crafted in painstaking detail, Ms. Mori's pen breathes life into the scenery and architecture of the period in this heartwarming slice-of-life tale that is at once both wholly exotic, yet familiar and accessible through the everyday lives of the rich characters she has created.
Let me start by saying that "crafted in painstaking detail," is perhaps the understatement of the year. The scenery, clothing... everything contains so much detail that your eye can't simply gloss over the page; you have to stop and take some time to view every last line, mark, and shade that has been made. In short, it is fantastic. I'm also familiar with Emma and Shirley, which are both set in Victorian England, and though they both contain their fair share of wonderful detail, neither is anything like the creative and colorful patterns of central Asia.
Rather than a continuous story like Emma, Bride's Story is split into a couple short stories, two of which are strung together by Amir's old clans desire to have her returned. These small stories give the larger piece a nice flow, and in no way does it feel choppy. Amir herself is also wonderful for a main character, and I really enjoyed watching her character develop throughout the tales. She's a bit quirky due to her "outside-ness" in her new tribe, that only adds to my love for her.
I know that, from the description, a few people may be uncomfortable with the large age difference between Amir, 20, and her husband, Karluk, 12. There's really very little to worry about: the two, in one scene at night, share a kiss in the semi-dark that is more cute and familiar than romantic or sexy. There is also a scene where the two sleep naked together, though that stems only from Amir's insistence that you will be too cold if you sleep clothed in a yurt (a type of housing) rather than nude, and the scene itself is not sexual. Other than that, their relationship is much more like that of an older sister/ younger brother than anything like a husband and wife.
All in all, this book comes highly recommended, and I look forward for the second one, if nothing for the art that my hands and eyes ache just looking at.
The book is unrated, and I personally would rate it PG-13 (for three panels of topless nudity and... almost violence? Then again, your mileage may vary.)
(Amazon - Goodreads)