The book “The Dopple Ganger Chronicles: The First Escape” is a bit hard to categorize. It’s part youth novel, part graphic novel, and then a bit of something else entirely. I’ve had some experience with the author, G.P. Taylor. I have read his books Shadowmancer (which I really enjoyed) and Wormwood (which I enjoyed somewhat less). I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect when I read the description of this book. When it came I flipped through it I was immediately intrigued by the design of the book. First the main text was not always the only thing telling the story on the pages. Layout and various illustrations played a large part in the design of the interior of the book. From things running around the edges of various pages, to oversized, stylized dialog, to illustrations the story was told with more than just the words on the pages. Then every half dozen pages or so there would be one or more graphic novel style pages where the story was told through dialog and panels of illustrations.
I used to read comic books and graphic novels all the time and this idea of what essentially amounts to a mixed media novel I found very appealing. While not the shortest of the books I’ve read in recent months it went by the fastest. Taking me less than two full days to finish it (no mean feat with a wife, two kids, a dog and six house guests over the weekend). I thought the book was that good.
The story focuses on three main characters, all of which in their mid to late teens. Sadie and Saskia Dopple and Erik Morrissey Ganger (and so the title of the series the Dopple Ganger Chronicles). Sadie and Saskia are less than well behaved twins at an orphanage for wayward girls in what I would guess is the first quarter of the 20th century in England. Erik is a young worker at the orphanage that was abandoned (or maybe not) there by his father (who was teaching him all the ways of his wayward lifestyle). After a particularly rowdy episode by the twins the Matron of the facility (Rimmer by name) adopts out Saskia without her sister Sadie to an eccentric woman looking for an heir. After some mishaps at the orphanage after Saskia’s departure it looks like Sadie will be taken to a workhouse or worse when she is broken out by Erik with two of Rimmer’s henchmen in hot pursuit (complete with a big hound dog). All the while strange events began to happen at Saskia’s new home where the mystery of what is happening in the house goes deeper and deeper.
There are some light hints at Christian theology and world view that aren’t really explored much here but I expect they will be as the series moves on. There is also some mention of spiritualism, but not cast in a good light. All and all another top rate offering from a top rate author. I’ll be looking for more from the Dopples and Erik Ganger.
I should mention (and I forgot to when I first posted this review) that I received this book at no cost from Tyndale for the purposes of reviewing the book. The review is my own opinion and is not influenced by them giving me the book for free.