Basilisk is one of the books I eagerly await each month. I mean, there are plenty of books I’m excited to read, but few I cannot wait to read. It might be that every issue leaves the reader with more questions than answers—and it’s a book that started its very first issue with a lot of questions already.
Indeed, with its first story arc wrapped up in the last issue, Basilisk has left us with wonderfully few clues as to the origin of the book’s villains, Chimera, nor to the true heart of our vengeance-seeking protagonist, Hannah. With each little detail meted out, the reader only wants more.
Issue #5 takes a moment between story arcs to take a breather from the nonstop carnage of that first story arc, and to give us just a whiff more of backstory. After suffering a major loss in the last issue, the Chimera hole up to lick their wounds—both literal and metaphoric—and our girls Hannah and Regan hit the road, while even more tiny, tiny details are meted out into the narrative.
First, the book gives a bit more depth to Hannah’s past—her motivation for the violent path of revenge she’s been on since we met her—by giving us a short, sweet flashback and beginning to flesh out her late daughter and husband. It’s a small allowance, but a necessary one: a story can tell you about a loss and it only reaches so far. If the story begins to show you what that loss might actually feel like, the smallest bit does leagues of work to endear the reader to the character.
On the other side of the fence—or, rather, in the cramped motel room—the Chimera reel from the loss of Manny, the silently soulful heart of their cadre. Seams are beginning to show in their unity, which might hint at how vital a part Manny was in keeping them together. As the adults bicker and question what moves need to be made, young Cara seems to be suffering an uncharacteristic bout of remorse for Chimera’s general violent nature.
Again, it’s a small detail, but one that speaks volumes—Cara’s reticence might mirror the sort of guilt that splintered Regan from the group before our narrative began. Is there something of a violent, power-mad groupthink that is beginning to fracture?
Further, the tiniest crumb about how Chimera’s powers work is advanced, as Regan is beset by forceful manifestations of Manny’s power—manifestations that seem to say that his death has only escalated Regan’s own prowess.
As we set out on the next leg of the book’s journey, then, these small advances widen the lens of the book, opening up not only the physical space of our story’s setting but also the scope of our understanding of the characters. Even the creepy Chimera-worshiping humans are cracked into and developed.
Like any good serial mystery, Basilisk continues to seed an understanding without spilling the beans.
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