Marie Antoinette, Phantom Queen is an engaging and beautifully illustrated ghost story. Maud, a wealthy widow and an accomplished painter, is invited to a social gathering in Normandy. The weather turns sour, and the group decides it has created the perfect ambiance for a séance. Maud unexpectedly conjures “a beautiful lady from days of old,” but the séance ends up not being the end of her ghostly encounter. Queen Marie Antoinette seeks out Maud in the hopes that she will be able to help her move on, but Maud’s preoccupation with the apparition that no one else can see has her slimy son-in-law, Remy, seeking to declare her unfit so he can steal the money his father left her. Will Maud be able to help Marie move on, or will Remy succeed in having her committed?
This is a wonderful work of historical fiction, and splits its time between Maud and illustrating various moments in Marie Antoinette’s life. Despite having a fairly decent sized cast of characters the book never feels too overcrowded. The book is a tall hardcover (also available as an eBook), and the illustrations are clear, crisp, and uncrowded for your enjoyment. The illustrations appear to be ink and watercolor, suit the narrative and time period perfectly, and are a complete joy to look at. While telling the story of a haunting, the story isn’t your typical horror fare and instead manages to carry a somewhat peaceful ambiance. Rodolphe writes a short preface to explain where the idea for the graphic novel originated, and is worth reading before diving into the book itself.
Marie Antoinette, Phantom Queen is highly recommended for readers of historical fiction, even those who typically do not read graphic novels.
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