Many years have passed and Child has grown up behind the mansions high walls into a young woman, and is now known as Lady. She has inherited Uncle’s wealth and knowledge, and what’s more has taken the alchemy that breathes life into the porcelain figures one step further. She’s a driven yet very private individual, and the wider world knows very little about her at all. However, that’s not true of the army. Fighting what’s perhaps this world’s equivalent of the Napoleonic wars, the army is in desperate need of Lady’s porcelain as obedient, unafraid mounts to carry soldiers to the enemy, and more immediately as actual infantry. But Lady has no desire to share her creations to spill blood and take lives, and feeling safe and superior behind her walls she gives the military short shrift.
Lady’s chaperone, Mariem, seeks to distract Lady with a trip to a party, but growing up on the streets and now surrounded by the security of her wealth and porcelain it offers little pleasure, so she declines, only to steal away over the wall, unseen, to a bar where she can be a version of herself she is comfortable with and nobody knows her true self. Except in the bar she bumps into the young Captain that accompanied the General earlier who in turn, naturally, recognises her. And so begins a difficult journey of trust as Lady attempts to balance her feelings with her perceived duties to herself and her work, and which will all culminate in heartache and bitter compromises.
Porcelain: Bone China has many strengths, not least an original and well told core narrative, strong characters that feel as if they belong in their world, and the brilliant concept, and exploration, of porcelain animals and people that owes much to sci-fi stories of subservient robots and fantastical tales of golems. In the previous book, Child was an interesting, curious and fascinating character, but now as a young woman she is a richer and deeper young woman conflicted by duty and sorrow, but driven by a determination and intelligence. Chris Wildgoose’s artwork is the crowning glory, though. Beautifully drawn, with uncluttered and well-designed layouts, his pages are packed with detail, character and depth, so the nuances of personality shine through, the elaborate markings upon the porcelain can be deciphered and there is a definitive sense of time and place. So, on the whole, you have a rather splendid package of a unique tale told well and illustrated beautifully.
Don’t go buying another DC or Marvel book this month. Pick up this British gem and take your imagination somewhere different.
And if you liked that: If this is all new to you, go get yourself a copy of the first book, and if it’s not, a third book is on its way soon.