Salamandre by I.N.J. Culbard
Kaspar Salamandre is a boy who lives on an island near the mainland and has recently lost his dad, Swan Salamandre, a master diver and whale enthusiast.
The accident that made him lose his father could have been prevented, and this bereaved young boy feels really bad. So his mother decides it is high time for him to visit his grandfather.
Now, the grandfather lives across the curtain (a fictional reenactment of the Iron Curtain) on the mainland, where an oppressive regime only allows portraits of the Emperor, flower seeds are contraband, music is illegal, and revolutionaries and undercover agencies are the norms.
There are so many ways to explain this—however, my favorite is when he describes a bookstore (they are also prohibited) for a friend: there is more than one bookstore on his island and the oldest one has several floors—stacks and stacks of different books in them—and the conversation and “picturing” of it make you wonder about what we take for granted.
Espionage and secret police are complex topics for a teenage kid who is coming to terms with the loss of his father. There is a recurring dream in the deep waters where his father dove for the last time that plagues him, and there are new friends to be made, and all have that eerie feeling you get in series such as The Man in the High Castle.
It is a fascinating coming-of-age story, superbly drawn by I.N.J. Culbard.
Publisher: Berger Books
Publish Date: December 20, 2022
Pages 152 Pages
BISAC Categories: Crime & Mystery, Fantasy, Science Fiction
Featured image by I.N.J. Culbard, all images belong to Berger Books