A Strange and Beautiful Sound HC
Translator: Frank Cvetkovic
Letterer: Jeremy Melloul
Review by Anelise Farris
A Strange and Beautiful Sound tells the story of William and Méry. William, a member of the Carthusian religious order, has been under a vow of silence for over two decades. However, when a sudden inheritance brings him to Paris, he has to learn how to navigate a whole new world—one that is quite different from the monastery that he has called home for so long. It is here in Paris that he meets Méry: a young woman with a terminal illness, determined to live whatever life she has left to the fullest. Consequently, A Strange and Beautiful Sound is a story about relationships, hope, and the meaning of life.
While the concept of this story is intriguing, the execution is lacking. William’s inner monologue and dialogue is stiff, stilted, very wax-poetic-like. Although I am all for lyrical, poetic writing, here it generally comes across as insincere. To be honest my favorite parts of the story were the flashbacks to William’s childhood—which were very animated—and the character of Méry. Unfortunately, however, Méry’s enthusiasm and vigor only serve to highlight William’s lifelessness, and that it made it really hard to get into his character.
The art is sketchbook-esque, with fine lines and semi-realistic settings. This style works for the story’s subject material, but one thing that confused me is the coloring. Portions of the book are all in browns, others in blues, and pinks, but there doesn’t seem to be any reasoning to the choices. Sometimes the flashbacks are brown, sometimes not. And the constant use of blurry panel borders doesn’t make sense either because they are used both for the flashbacks and for the present day. All in all, the art proved more distracting than anything.
Verdict: Skip it.
A Strange and Beautiful Sound has the potential to be an affecting, thoughtful read on the meaning of life, but it falls short in terms of execution.