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The Phantom Twin by Lisa Brown
Source: copy from First Second; all opinions are my own
Official Summary: Isabel and Jane are the Extraordinary Peabody Sisters, conjoined twins in a traveling carnival freak show—until an ambitious surgeon tries to separate them and fails, causing Jane’s death.
Isabel has lost an arm and a leg but gained a ghostly companion: Her dead twin is now her phantom limb. Haunted, altered, and alone for the first time, can Isabel build a new life that’s truly her own?
Happy Halloween Month!
I love graphic novels and The Phantom Twin was definitely a unique one. Isabel and Jane are conjoined twins – though due to the time period, they are often referred to with the outdated term Siamese Twins- and they have an act in a traveling freak show. The two share an arm and a leg, though Isabel doesn’t have much control of them. In fact, most of her life seems to be controlled by Jane. Now, Jane isn’t a bad person – she’s just more outgoing and daring, and she desperately wants a life separate from her sister (at least, literally separated). When she meets a doctor who says he can separate them, Isabel is talked into the surgery by Jane, and the two go under the knife. Unfortunately, only Isabel survives…with a ghostly Jane attached to her side (who comes and goes as she wishes).
I found it interesting to see how Isabel was fitted with a faux arm and leg for the side that Jane used to be on. She even eventually goes back to the carnival, even though ghostly Jane is angry that she’s wasting her shot to get away and do something else with her life. I could understand Isabel joining the freak show again, since it was pretty much all she knew and she didn’t want to be all on her own.
It’s easy to be upset with Jane through most of the book – even when she’s no longer alive – because she’s always pushing and pulling Isabel in the direction she wants. In her heart though, she does want what’s best for Isabel. Jane might not have the chance to be free, but she knows that Isabel still can. Plus, there’s a bit of a romance between Isabel and a boy who tattoos, and I definitely wanted what Jane did here – for Isabel to run away with the boy and live happily ever after.
The Phantom Twin was such a fascinating book. I loved the graphics and I think the story line was a really unique one. This book would be great for fans of The Greatest Showman.