Rickety Stitch and the Gelatinous Goo: The Road to Epoli advance review


Can a skeleton have a soul? That’s what Rickety Stitch and his pal Goo aim to find out! Yet can they survive the adventure?

Rickety Stitch And The Gelatinous Goo: The Road To Epoli

Writers: Ben Costa & James Parks

Artist: Ben Costa

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In video games, novels, and even comics, the fantasy genre is often a favorite one. Yet there is no end of heroes and heroines who are humans, demigods, elves, or hobbits.  Have you ever seen a skeleton hero before? How about a skeleton minstrel? Notable examples are Nightmare Before Christmas and Bone, yet remain few and far between. Rickety Stitch plans to make his bony tunes heard in this great new series published by  Knopf Doubleday (which is owned by Random House).

Image by Random House Children’s Books

On the surface, Rickety Stitch seems to be an odd bag of bones. Unlike most skeletons in the land of Eem, he has a personality. He sings songs, has vivid dreams and has befriended a fellow misfit, a living slime monster named Goo. He’s stuck at a dead end job at a dungeon where he slacks off, much to Taskmaster Ghoulihan’s chagrin. One nap too many sees Rickety Stitch and Goo before the office of Ms. Wozinski, the “CEO”—chief execution officer of the dungeon.

Image by Random House Children’s Books

Hard to Be Terminated When You’re Already Dead!

Rickety Stitch and Goo are unceremoniously fired and left to fend for themselves. This suits Stitch fine, as it gives him more time to work on his songs! In particular, one song about “the Road to Epoli” plays amid nightmares about his past in his dreams. It’s a past that Rickety can’t remember, so he sets out on a quest to find it. Little does he know that such a quest will lead him to the castle of the King of Grimly Wood. He turns out to be the massive ogre Golo and his servant imp, Ziggy.

Image by Random House Children’s Books

Ziggy in particular has been forced into servitude to the two-headed Golo, who has literally become a prisoner of his appetite. After finding Rickety Stitch too bony a morsel, Golo holds Goo hostage. He’s given Rickety and Ziggy a new quest—tricking the gnome L. Nerman Fuddle into becoming his latest meal. The pair of outcasts, who insist they’re not becoming friends at various points, poorly disguise themselves as gnomes to try to trick Fuddle in order to save the Goo.

Image by Random House Children’s Books

L. Nerman Fuddle seems like a friendly gnome, but he’s actually a powerful wizard. He and the unicorn Xorgana work tirelessly to restore greatness to the realm and keep the Gloom King away. Fuddle becomes very interested in Stitch himself, whose memories delve into an earlier time with skeleton armies and the Gloom King himself. Both Rickety Stitch and Ziggy combat their pasts to become better people, as Fuddle joins them in their rescue mission against the giant Golo.

Image by Random House Children’s Books

This Is Far from yet Another Fantasy Tale!

Ben Costa and James Parks craft an adventure which is both amusing and poignant. While this is an all-ages graphic novel, it may be for slightly older kids. There is mention of the word “hell,” which alone would rate most films PG. There are a couple of double entandres in the beginning when dealing with the dungeon and a bar where Rickety Stitch plies his trade. Some of the jokes from Golo’s secondary (and cyclops) head shift towards the cruder variety. Yet all is in good fun!

Image by Random House Children’s Books

The angle in the first act of the dungeon-as-LLC is utterly hilarious. Plenty of older readers may relate to Stitch’s meeting with his boss. His search for identity is a quest which is easy to relate to. All of us have to figure out who we want to be amid varying degrees of adversity and misunderstanding. Stitch himself is an odd sort, always good for an attempt at a song, or some quick-witted one liners. The Goo is akin to R2D2 in which only Stitch can understand him.

Image by Random House Children’s Books

Ziggy comes in during the second act and it is easy to see how his journey dovetails that of Stitch. Both were servants to evil for little reason besides what was expected of “creatures” such as them. It takes Ziggy a longer period of time to shake off his danger demeanor, but he gets a chance in the finale. L. Nerman Fuddle serves as the Gandolf type figure. He’s an ancient wizard who knows the land and all of its secrets, yet remains goodhearted and optimistic.

Who You Were Is Never More Important Than Who You Are!

There are plenty of elements and character types that fantasy fans will recognize. However, the land of Eem and the legend of Epoli have a uniqueness all their own. The artwork by Costa is spectacular. Despite being a skeleton, Costa gets the full range of emotion out of Rickety Stitch, and even the Goo’s mood is often known. The backgrounds are lush, and even familiar monsters have their own unique flair to them. From a dungeon to a bar to many forests, it all looks amazing.

Image by Random House Children’s Books

The challenge of Golo is solved in this volume, but greater mysteries remain. Rickety Stitch and his connection to Epoli, and the Gloom King, are yet to be explored. A mysterious lady knight with a distinctive design pops up here and there, almost like a clue to the next volume. The rest of the supporting cast may change, as Stitch and Goo are the traveling heroes of this story. The balance between adventure, suspense, and humor is appropriate and always entertaining.

Image by Random House Children’s Books

Next: Check out the debut of another YA novel, 5 Worlds!

In conclusion, this opening volume of Rickety Stitch and the Gelatinous Goo is just what the doctor ordered for weary fantasy fans. It’s like nothing you’ve ever read before, with a quirky lead and a mystical land for him to explore. It goes on sale June 6. In the meantime, you can catch a listen to a musical rendition to the song which remains a theme throughout the work. Even a skeleton can have a bard’s soul, and this adventure is one which is full of humor and heart.