The Undertaking of Lily Chen plays on an old Chinese tradition that upon the loss of life in an important man, he must have a corpse bride to accompany him into the afterlife. What seems a pretty dark and grim storyline is made humorous and entertaining under the hands of Danica Novgorodoff, with some important lessons to be learned about the meaning of family and honor.
Deshi is a hapless man who has tried his best to do well in life, living under the resplendent shadow of his brother who is the light in his parents’ eyes, until he is accidentally killed in a foolish accident. Deshi holds himself to blame and quickly earns the ire of his parents, so he plans to find his brother the perfect corpse bride for his journey into the afterlife, which will finally make his parents happy with him, he hopes.
Hilarities ensue with him searching for all forms of buried women that are in various states of decay and simply not suitable for his brother; he even goes so far as to hire a professional to acquire the right cadaver for his brother. Eventually he realizes he must simply kill a live woman, as that is what it will take. Enter Lily Chen.
But as the two get to know each other Deshi soon knows he cannot commit this act as he is falling for this strange but wonderful woman, but at the same time he does not wish to disrespect his parents or the memory of his brother, and a scheme must be hatched between the two.
A story that is unusual, entertaining, surprising and moving, The Undertaking of Lily Chen is a like no other graphic novel for its plot, while its art employs great use of black lines and occasional hints of color that lend meaning to the story. If you’re looking for something different but also great, look no further.
Originally written on April 18, 2014 ©Alex C. Telander.
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