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written by Chris Wooding illustrated by Dan Chernett

Malice is an alternate world inhabited by supernatural beasts, deadly mechanical creatures, dark and foggy lands, and countless children desperately searching for a way back home. Malice also happens to be an underground comic book of which most kids can’t wait to get the next edition. There is the rumor that the main character of the comic, Tall Jake, will come for you in your sleep and whisk you away to Malice if you complete the necessary ritual. Of course, most people believe that to be an urban legend. It would be impossible for someone to enter into a comic book world --- or would it?

Friends Seth and Kady didn’t believe it would be possible until their friend, Luke, went missing. Luke had only complained to Seth the day before about performing the ritual and then hearing the strangest sound of skittering claws. Seth and Kady are in utter shock, then, when they manage to come across the next edition of Malice and find Luke drawn as the main character. To their horror, as they turn through the pages, Luke is brutally murdered by devilish creatures. Kady is in denial immediately, but Seth is convinced that Tall Jake is behind Luke’s disappearance. With the police unable to turn up any solid leads, Seth prepares to enter into the world of Malice.

Seth is immediately thrust into a place where danger lurks behind every corner. After narrowly escaping death the moment he arrives, Seth manages to hook up a small band of survivors in this strange new world. Justin, one especially feisty survivor, teaches Seth the ins and outs of Malice. After one particular adventure goes awry, Seth and Justin decide to travel to the Oubliette, the deep labyrinth, and find the oracle that can provide some answers.

After losing both Luke and Seth to strange circumstances, Kady is forced into investigating their mysterious disappearances. Her inspection leads her to the home of a comic book seller who distributes copies of Malice to children. With the aid of an intelligent cat, Kady overhears a sinister plot that has the capacity to endanger even more children’s lives. Perhaps it’s time for Kady to make a trip to Malice --- if she can overcome a dark secret from her past.

As the book speeds towards its cliffhanging conclusion, Seth and Justin have met their match in the Oubliette and despair begins to seep in. Kady is finding it next to impossible to enter into Malice, and rumors of a resistance called the Havoc are causing Tall Jake to inflict his wrath in new and treacherous ways.

MALICE is the next breed of part prose, part comic book. While the illustrations are expertly drawn and add a different perspective to the story, they were few and far between. I kept wishing that there would be more of them mixed in. The storyline also suffered from a few hiccups as the main characters kept changing their minds on what they wanted to do next. Still, there is no denying the appeal of transporting oneself into the world of comic books --- even a deadly one. There are numerous twists, turns and revelations that can only be resolved in the next book, HAVOC, and most readers will be interested to see what happens next.


Reviewed by Benjamin Boche on October 18, 2011

written by Chris Wooding illustrated by Dan Chernett

  • Publication Date: October 1, 2009
  • Genres: Graphic Novel, Thriller
  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Scholastic Press
  • ISBN-10: 054516043X
  • ISBN-13: 9780545160438