Wednesday 27 June 2018

Deeds Not Words

Continuing the list of books which arrived in my absence, here's Deeds Not Words.

This is a book that I backed through Kickstarter, so I received a signed copy with my name included in a list on the back cover, along with everyone else who donated.

King Edward is on the throne of a British Empire collapsing under its own weight, and those who hold power are determined it will not be shared.

It is a dangerous time for a cooper's daughter and her mother to be displaying a queer strength beyond the usual limitations of mankind.

Emily Downings is young, Deaf and angry, with questions that need answers. To get them, she must deal with those who would deny her choices and chances.

Hearing people.

I originally donated because I liked the idea of a Deaf superhero graphic novel, and I must admit, it's nicely drawn and suitably Victorian in style. It centres on a Deaf girl, Emily, with super-human strength, who enlists an organisation of people with different abilities to help figure out who attacked her mother and set fire to their shop.

It's apparently part one of two, though I have difficulty imagining how they're going to wrap up the story in a single volume. It feels very much like the story is just getting started. 

The only thing that puts me off a bit is the premise 'Emily is Deaf and angry - and it's all hearing people's fault.' The book was also funded by the Arts Council England, and I just wonder whether they'd have been so eager had it read: "Emily is female and angry - to get answers she must deal with those who would deny her choices and chances. Men," or "black and angry - white people." 

I mean, yeah, I get it - but it's not exactly an inclusive message that would entice hearing people to read further, which I assume you'd want them to do in order to change their minds about stuff?

There can sometimes be an overpowering sense of anger towards hearing people in the west, that doesn't always exist in Deaf communities in other countries and cultures. The idea that hearing people deliberately set out to deny Deaf people choices and chances is one way to look at it. The other is that, on the whole, nowadays, people usually mean well and try to improve the world around them with the limited resources available from cash-strapped local authorities.

Things aren't perfect and more can always be done, but it's often ignorance rather than a deliberate attempt to sabotage one group of people. Of course, the blurb could just be telling you that's the premise for this particular story - a world in which hearing people are deliberately out to trample the rights of Deaf people, but it's a statement that could use a little more context.

Meh, anyway. It's a nicely-drawn short read with potential. Feels more like the start of a longer series than the first part of a two-parter, but if they need to Kickstart each volume, it may be unlikely to expand.

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