Author: Sarah Vaughn
Illustrator: Leila Del Duca
Series: Sleepless #1
Published by Image Comics
Released: July 11, 2018
Genres: Fantasy, Romance
Lady “Poppy” Pyppenia is guarded by Cyrenic, her faithful Sleepless Knight. But when a new king is crowned, an assassin threatens her life, ushering in a new and dangerous time. As Poppy and Cyrenic work to discover who wants her dead, they must navigate the dangers of life at court—and of their growing feelings for one another.
Deadman: Dark Mansion of Forbidden Love is a comic which I love love love and have read many times, so when I saw Vaughn had written a romantic fantasy with an intriguing premise and a beautiful black princess on the cover it was an easy decision to buy and read Sleepless.
I don’t know where to start with how much I liked about this, so I’ll just pick a few elements:
The magic system: So magic isn’t a massive part of the storyline, except in how it creates the world. The major part there is the magical vow that creates a Sleepless Knight, but even here its focus is more on how it impacts the knights themselves – the way being without sleep makes them perfect guards – than on the magic that creates and powers it.
And the root of all this magic? Time. Time magic is always fascinating, and its presence here as an aspects works really well. The idea of healing simply being taking a little time from the end of your life and bringing it forward is intriguing – and horrifying in implications of what it can do.
I would love another work in this universe that goes deeper into this magic, but I’m also happy where it stands right now.
Character relationships: Poppy and Cyrenic are great main characters, working well together as well as being strong and developed when apart. Their romance fits their story and positions well: clearly there at the start and you’re just waiting for the moment they finally figure it out, while in the meantime holding your breath when they have A Moment.
Apart from the romance, the best relationships are between the female characters. Although the illegitimate daughter of the late king (whose brother now sits on the throne) she is not treated with disdain or negativity by the dowager queen. In fact they are clearly very close, the queen dowager loving and loved like a second mother. In one powerful scene, she speaks of her relationship with her late husband and how, after losing several children, Poppy’s birth would only resurrect and enhance that trauma – but instead she loved her from the moment she was born.
Even rivalry between young women is not born from simple jealousy or gossip. Both are anxious of their place and the politics surrounding them, and their perpetual state of on alert leads down the path of distrust and anger and worry. They’re also smart enough to remember to listen to the other and to trust in themselves and their strengths (even if others might not).
The artwork: LOOK AT THIS BEAUTIFUL GIRL LOOK AT HER I TELL YOU.
Poppy is stunning and so is the rest of the art. It’s simply gorgeous. Expressive, beautiful faces, gorgeous colouring, and elaborate, stunning costumes. I can’t do it justice with words.
If you like romance, fantasy, or just comic books, you really should check Sleepless out. I just want to shove it at everyone and shout READ IT. It’s beautiful, it’s romantic, it has wonderful character interaction and gentle world-building, and the art and colours are so so lovely.
*shoves comic at you* READ IT.