Review: Estranged Ethan M. Aldridge
Estranged, at its core is a story of kindness, belonging, identity and family. It is a masterpiece that dwells on the concept that whoever you are, whatever your circumstance, you deserve to be loved. It is the story of Edmund a changeling and the unnamed ‘Human Childe’ who must get to grips with a world they are raised in, but estranged from. For Edmund, a fae raised in the human world, this is his struggle to hide who and what is he really is from his human parents. The Human Child, raised in the underworld of the Fae must come to terms with being treated as a curious object paraded around and shown off, but never really treated as something truly alive. Both are destined to live out their lives in worlds that were never really meant for them – that is until a political shift in the world of the fae changes this. Estranged takes us on a heartwarming journey of discovery as we follow Edmund and Childe in their fight to restore the world below to its rightful state and overcome a nemesis that hunts them both. Each page is a wonder of watercolour and detail, showcasing the magic of the story in a way that words alone could never quite evoke.
The charm of Estranged is inextricably linked to Ethan’s talent in both art and the choices he has made with his characters and their journey in finding a place where they can be who they truly are is reminiscent of the coming of age many LGBT youths go through. Ethan has gone to great lengths to balance the pace of the story, the inner character turmoil and the fast-paced action scenes. No one character is the same, even if two practically share a face. The most touching scene for me is early on. Where the fears Edmund has and the fears the Childe have are out in the open. It is their sister Alexis who offers the reassurance they both desperately need. Her equivocal acceptance of them both is without condition.
Look I don’t really understand evrything that’s going on, but I don’t care what you are you’re still my brother.Alexis to Edmund.
(This is too wierd.) I guess I don’t really know you. If i’ve got this right, I only knew you until you were what, a year old? But you’re my brother too, just more of the long-lost kind, I guess . Like I said, I protect my brother. My brothers.Alexis to Childe
Alexis’ approach to her situation perfectly sums up the thematic essence Estrange evokes and is a brilliant exposition of not only Alexis’ character but a message that I think all youngsters should know. It doesn’t matter who you are, you deserve to be loved. That is my take on the thematic message.
Estranged has an impact not only because of the narrative Ethan has expertly weaved. But also due to the art that it contains. Every page is bursting with a plethora of minute details that truly bring Estranged alive. It is clear Ethan has taken a meticulous approach to each panel filling each page with stunning detailed artwork that sets the tone and compliments the narrative. On the hardback version I have, I soon realised that the page colour indicated where in the world our characters were – white for on the surface and in the human world and black for the underworld and the fae kingdom. It’s a small detail, but one that perfectly highlights Ethan’s attention to detail.
Estranged is one of those stories that can be enjoyed by both adults and children alike, with a range of subtle ques for adults to complement the awe and magic for children.
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Estranged is available for purchase on Amazon.