I have never been an incredibly avid fan of Batman and stories centered around Gotham, but there have been several that I enjoyed in the past. Shadow of the Batgirl by Sarah Kuhn and illustrated by Nicole Goux, while very different from the Batman-related adaptations I have been exposed to before was actually quite a fun graphic novel to read. It follows the life of a young girl who was raised to be a villain as she shifts her life into one of heroism. Though not quite the batgirl, Cassandra Cain quickly finds herself enamored with Batgirl’s story.
Kuhn’s story is all about life-changing mentorship.
A true story of finding yourself amid a world full of brainwashing, Shadow of the Batgirl really drives home the message that our upbringing never determines, fully, who we will choose to be in our future. Cassandra Cain, raised by her father to be his deadly assassin escapes the toxic environment he has built for her to find a life of her own, one that is no longer seeped in the darkness that he has shrouded her with.
There’s so much to adore about this graphic novel, from the story itself to the characterization of the people Cassandra knows and meets. Truly a tale of finding the right mentors for yourself, the novel takes readers on a journey that supports finding and supporting the person you want to be. As someone whose upbringing was clouded with many evils of society including ignorant sexism and racism, it’s no wonder that Cassandra’s story really hit home for me.
The truth is, sometimes it’s the family you make for yourself that helps you become the better person you were meant to be.
And I feel that more strongly than I could even begin to describe.
I loved the illustrations in this graphic novel.
You can’t help but find yourself deeply appreciating the beauty of every page you turn. The action scenes are depicted expertly and Goux does an impressive job of portraying Cassandra’s role as a shadow of sorts. Having the story set, for the most part, within the walls of a library was another added bonus that pulled me in even more.
Everything about the way Goux incorporates the artwork within the context of the story is absolutely breathtaking. You truly feel pulled into the story as you read it. There’s a genuine swiftness to how quickly you find yourself invested in Cassandra’s story. It’s one that begins with devastation, filled with emotional trauma and the truth that comes with not fully being able to recognize just how wrong your life is.
I found it utterly amazing how well I identified with her tale.
Growing up in a household that merely subscribes to the lies that society has thrust upon them, not fully understanding the depth behind problematic aspects of my parents’ way of thinking, is not the same as a daughter who has been forced by her father to become a killer. But the way her story parallels such a background was eye-opening. There is meaning in this sort of story and I was truly touched to have found it.
I was provided a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.