Eric Grissom, author
AS DARKNESS FALLS on the forest, a young trapper finds herself too far from the walls of her village to make the journey home. Instead, she decides to brave the cold, dark night alone in the mysterious woods. Unable to find fuel for her fire, she turns to an ancient, hallowed tree. A tree that her people have sworn to never touch. And never, ever, burn. The Mark is the story of what happens when that vow is broken.
Through immersive rhyming stanzas and inky b&w cartoons, Connelly and Grissom tell an eerie medieval cautionary tale that straddles picture book and graphic novel terrain. A female trapper with an elfin cap, beaklike nose, lantern, and sword is forced to spend a night in the forest before returning to her village. Desperate to find fuel for a fire, she breaks a “sacred vow” by burning branches she cuts from “an oak tall and grim./ A gnarled and twisted face upon its bark.” A phantasmal figure with staglike antlers rises from the fire she builds, “the Forgotten King both demon and a liar.” Upon returning to her village, the trapper is shunned when it’s revealed that her palm now bears a mark resembling the branches of a tree. Grissom’s verse appears on left-hand pages opposite Connelly’s moody panels, which grow increasingly tense as the banished trapper returns to the fateful tree and faces her fate. Grissom’s cryptic verse doesn’t spell out all of the story’s mysteries or circumstances, but its rich imagery casts a captivating spell. Ages 10–up. (BookLife)