Book Review: The Saga of Bloody Benders

Another graphic novel goldmine my good friends. Just like the previous review of The Goon, I put on hold another graphic novel that came in right on time to get me through the wait of Mockingjay. This time it was a graphic novel by Rick Geary who has an unbelievably extensive resume of work that he has done in his lifetime. This particular graphic novel is part of the A Treasury of Victorian Murder series. This particular graphic novel that I read is the 9th book in the series. This is not a series that you have to read in order. Rather, he has taken a historical timepiece and crafted and well told story about a crazy family called the Benders.

From Amazon.com

From School Library Journal

Grade 10 Up—The Bender clan—nearly silent mother, German-speaking father, voluble adult son, and flirtatious adult daughter—arrives in Kansas in the early 1870s. On the prairie, along the Osage Trail that travelers take from northeast to central south in their new state, the family builds a combination dwelling, inn, and grocery. It’s just a small frame house really, with family quarters curtained off from the larger area of the building where the public stops in for provisions, a meal, or perhaps a night’s rest. There’s a basement underneath, with a large, flat stone serving as its floor. Travelers in the vicinity are disappearing, but for a long time no one realizes it. As ever, Geary’s details are well researched and presented in suspenseful, Victorian-like perspective, moody with minimalist detail. Period social concepts are folded into the storytelling, including the use of the term “savages” by a visiting missionary who manages to escape alive when he senses movement behind the curtain partition-the movement of Mr. Bender passing, carrying a small sledgehammer. True-crime fans will enjoy this book and history teachers may find inspiration for joining research to compelling storytelling.—Francisca Goldsmith, Berkeley Public Library, CA

I really enjoyed this story. The illustrations are fantastic. They are not disturbing or gross. There is no physical violence displayed, but the storyline itself is quite gruesome. What I like about this graphic novel is that it was well researched. It was written in a very simple, fact only, type story. Nothing was glorified or as I call it “Hollywoodized”. He took the facts and created soem fantastic illustrations to go along with the storyline. I kept thinking of new ideas to implement in my teaching using graphic novels. I had about 3 cool ideas that I am going to try and pan out in my classroom. As with Eric Powell, Rick Geary has a very cool website. I am now hooked on Rick Geary and will have to track down some of the other graphic novels in this series. I actually learned a few things about the time period of Kansas 1870 that I did not know prior. If you like true crime, murder, history, and a good old fashion story, then this is for you. SLJ has it marked as grades 10 and up, but I don’t see any reason why a younger crowd could not read this except for the storyline of a murderous family who killed many, many people. It all comes down to what families decide, but another good one to check out if this is your cup of tea.

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