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“Stagdale” Welcomes You To Settle In And Explore


Frances Castle’s Stagdale is an intriguing and laidback story that opens during the hot summer of 1975 with Kathy; a young girl who moves to a quaint, isolated village. Stagdale is rich with history of ancient rituals and stolen jewels as Kathy and her mother move into a musty cottage. Doing her best to adjust into her new life, the young girl meets many odd characters; the elderly landlord, a malicious sibling duo of bullies, a shopkeeper and her father who lurks in the shadows of her store, amongst other things. Moreover, she quickly befriends her neighbor Joe. He helps makes her life in the village a little less lonely.

We later find that Stagdale is a story across two time periods. In the walls of her new home, Kathy discovers an old diary of Max, a young boy from Berlin. Kathy’s readings of the writing transport readers back to 1938 Germany under Nazi control. The comic is very immersive in its presentation. We spend a lot of time with Kathy as she learns how to adjust to her new life. There’s also Max and his tense and sorrowful departure from Germany. These two settings can’t be more different. But they are alike in how they show these two children coping with radical changes in their lives. 

Stagdale is very much a storybook, in all of the best ways. It has a unique and charming layout, often consisting of small and abundant panels that really capture the actions and movements of characters as well as the mood of the scene. These remind me of atmospheric storybooks and pictures I loved to read as a kid. It’s a world easy to invest in with details of the scenery, looking for clues in the background, and becoming lost in the world in ways that are both relaxing and exciting.

The art style, much like the story, is both whimsical and very atmospheric. The colors of the town are cool and muted, evoking a rustic and aged countryside. Meanwhile, Nazi-controlled Berlin is bleak and ominous; terrifying in its historical context and through the eyes of young Max. The first two parts of Stagdale are engaging and immersive reads. If you’re looking for a peaceful and charming experience with lots of heart and some mystery underneath, I’d give this one a shot!

Charmed by the story of Kathy and Max? Endeared by the village of Stagdale? Give this piece a read as it’s now available on the author’s website! Let us know in the comments what you think, or send us your thoughts on Facebook or Twitter!

About the author

Harrison Ostrosky

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