Check out below for an excerpt and review of The Serpent-Bearer and the Prince of Stars.
Author: C.S. Johnson
Released: November 9th, 2018
Received: Blog Tour Request
Warnings: Allegory for depression
I received a copy of The Serpent-Bearer and the Prince of Stars in exchange for a fair and honest review.
The Serpent-Bearer and the Prince of Stars is C.S. Johnson’s first foray into the world of manga, and I have to admit, I’m impressed. She not only wrote everything for the short novel, but illustrated it as well. Her talent at both makes it clear why she opted to go this route.
The Serpent-Bearer and the Prince of Stars is unique, though maybe not for any obvious reason. At first glance, it looks like an interesting graphic novel with a zodiac flourish. But a closer inspection will reveal that this is actually a story of depression and finding one’s way out of the darkness. Looking into it further, it seems that C.S. Johnson herself has dealt with depression, making this story a deeply personal and moving exploration.
Ophiuchus is a warrior of the Celestial Kingdom. Recently he’s been tasked with the care of Naga – a serpent that is oft referenced in lore around the world. Naga is a constant source of frustration and pain for Ophiuchus. Yet Ophiuchus continues to insist that he is happy and proud of his task at hand.
The Serpent-Bearer and the Prince of Stars is an absolutely lovely allegory about depression and one’s journey to understand it. More than that, it’s about accepting things that are out of our control (such as our emotions).
As you might imagine, Ophiuchus’ journey and eventual realization of what Naga truly means to him is something that many can resonate with. We all have a tendency to blame ourselves for things that are out of control. Especially our own emotions. But that doesn’t mean we need to carry their weight alone. Or beat ourselves up.
I’m honestly so impressed with this graphic novel. I know it was C.S. Johnson’s first attempt at the medium, but it’s honestly hard to believe. And that she was able to make the project into something so personal to her. That alone would be difficult enough.
I’m looking forward to seeing what she does next. What other explorations and allegories she can come up with in the future.