They call it “the forbidden harbor.” It appears and disappears in the mist but not everyone is able to see it, by all accounts…

Teresa Radice and Stefano Turconi’s The Forbidden Harbor is one of the better graphic novels I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading. Often, I’ve found that graphic novels can often run into the issue of being too short or not telling a complete story. But they can also run into the issue of trying to do too much at once, thus rushing through important parts of a story. Amazingly, The Forbidden Harbor runs into absolutely none of these issues and in fact tells a complex and engaging tale about a young man found shipwrecked with amnesia.

A Ghost Upon the Shore

The truth is that it’s difficult to delve into the details of this story’s plot without giving away various intricate plot points. Radice and Tuconi’s book is one of intrigue and betrayal. The further I read, the more entranced I was by the many threads woven into this plot. To say this is an excellent work would be an understatement. In fact, it’s perhaps the best graphic novel I’ve ever read. If nothing else, it’s certainly in the top three.

I have never read a graphic novel that more expertly told a story. Not only was this the perfect length, but it was also beautifully developed and written.

Rides out O’er the Sea

The story begins with Abel, rescued off the coast of Siam. Taken in by a ship’s first officer, he soon learns the tale of its lost Captain, a man said to have stolen treasure and run off with it. The boy remembers nothing of his life and thus follows the first officer and starts to make a life of his own. Eventually, he comes into contact with the three daughters of the disgraced Captain. Before he knows it, Abel is thrown into a world of complexities with many secrets he has yet to learn.

What I loved most about this story is how elaborate and intelligent the narrative is. You learn slowly alongside Abel as you follow his tale. And, quite honestly, it’s magical. It is a novel with sophisticated and complex characters, captivating circumstances, and exalting conspiracies. Truly it should come as no surprise that I adored this story.

Finally, to Find Himself

Meanwhile, the art of this graphic novel was excellent. There’s some criticism for the black and white pencil sketch nature of it, of course. But as far as I’m concerned the art was gorgeous. I frankly don’t think this story would have been as amazing as it is without it. The characters are beautiful, depicted in a way that allows you to really get to know them. Similarly to the text, the artwork pulls the reader in. You almost feel as though you are experiencing the story alongside Abel.

There’s not a single moment where you don’t feel entrenched with the events. Every moment pulls you in and I honestly left this book thoroughly amazed with it all.

In the End

In conclusion, The Forbidden Harbor is one of the best graphic novels I’ve read. Featuring murder and sex throughout, it is certainly meant for more mature audiences. And though pieces of that don’t exactly align with my typical preferences, I can honestly say that I was incredibly impressed with the complexities within this story. You’ll be guessing all the way to the end and it truly is an amazing adventure.

I was provided a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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