Finding Home by Hari Conner
I have spent many years travelling and seldom settled for long. I suppose I do not have a home to miss. – Chepi
Home is not always you were born, it’s not always where you live. Janek is travelling home, he is far away and longs to get back. Janek is a skilled chef, warm, comfort loving. He finds a travelling companion, Chepi. Chepi is a travelling scholar, half human and half dryad, wandering the woods, deserts and mountains researching healing potions. And Janek is falling in love…
Finding Home deals with themes of belonging and of seeking acceptance within your family, profession and society. Chepi is an outsider by virtue of being half human. He is forbidden to study and can only do so through the aid and sponsorship of others. He faces rejection and physical abuse from fae and human alike, especially as he struggles to control his magical nature. He finds a kind of solace in wandering the wilderness pursuing his studies and he can escape the memories of a failed relationship and traumas from his past. At the same time Chepi has some protection as a member of the House of Ashoka, albeit one viewed as somehow lesser. His elite connections also mean some magical abilities although, like most things, they come at a price.
The fae are known for their sensual nature and Chepi’s sexuality doesn’t seem to be problematic in itself. For Janek things might not be so simple. He has a more down-to-earth background and has not had Chepi’s access to education. Race, class, caste, even health come between Janek and Chepi. All of these barriers begin to break down as the two travel through the woods, face perils and learn more about each other.
There is something about walking through woods that is central to being human, and possibly to being a dryad for that matter. Hari depicts woodlands with wonderful skill and artistry and a fine attention to details of colour. Sunlight filtering through the canopy. Green, grey, brown and golden. One can smell the earth and leaves when one looks at Hari’s illustration of the forest. At one point in their journey Janek asks Chepi what his favourite colour is. “The pink of the morning sun as it comes over the horizon. The blue of deep water…the pale green of buds in spring.”
Neither Chepi nor Janek come from the stereotypical medieval western European setting so beloved of fantasy. Refreshingly Indian and Steppe cultures are drawn on instead to great effect.
This is a beautiful book to read and re-read and it is little surprise that Hari won the SICBA for Best Artist in 2017. I look forward to the next installment of their journey.
You can find the Finding Home webcomic here.
Or pick up the published collection at a con near you. Mini’s can be found on the Etsy store.