Hannah’s Novel Notions: A Review of Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant by Tony Cliff

Hannah's Novel Notions: A Review of Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant by Tony Cliff

What kind of a person are you? The kind that wants to get out there and go on wild adventures? Or the kind that wants to snuggle up on the couch and watch Netflix?

There’s nothing wrong with either kind of person, of course. Except for the fact that sometimes you may get so stuck being one kind that you forget to get out there and try being a different kind for a bit.

Hannah's Novel Notions:  A Review of Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant by Tony CliffThat’s the exact trouble that Selim, a Turkish lieutenant, is having. Of course, since he’s living in Turkey during the early 19th century, he’s not curling up and watching Netflix. He’s sitting quietly, brewing delicious teas, and generally staying out of trouble. He has no desire for adventures, but how could he? He’s never been on one before.

One day, a strange English woman named Delilah Dirk is imprisoned. She tells tales of traveling around the world, sailing in a flying boat, and fighting deadly foes. Which is all well and good for her, but Selim doesn’t see the appeal. But, when she escapes, it looks to all the world that Selim was the one to set her free. She saves him from their swords, and he has no choice but to flee with this wild woman and try to help her on her adventures in order to pay his life-debt.

From then on, Delilah and her accidental traveling companion Selim travel the world, running away from one bad guy and right into the arms of another problem. Selim soon has the chance to leave, to go back to his life of peace and tea, but is that what he really wants?

This was a very fun romp of a story. The characterization was hilarious and brilliantly done, there was lots of good dialogue, and it also had some sweet messages about being brave enough to step outside of your comfort zone.

It’s a graphic novel, technically a YA one, though I think it’s suitable for middle graders (or even slightly younger children) who like action. Of course, it’s also great for people who are far older than that.

The writer, Tony Cliff, also illustrated this book, which I think was a neat touch because it led to the characters and setting perfectly matching the ideas that the writer wanted to portray. The facial expressions particularly helped give this book a hilarious, sarcastic, fast-paced mood.

Both Delilah and Selim were lovable characters, both made 10 times more interesting by the dialogue exchange between them. Their relationship can be summed up in this one image:


Practically every page of this story had either something funny or something worth thinking about. Selim’s character arc was especially touching: he goes from a Bilbo Baggins-like I-don’t-want-to-be-on-this-journey character, to somebody trying to pay back a debt with a good attitude, to somebody who actually starts enjoying the company of somebody he found very odd at first.

Delilah herself was also a great character. She’s best described as a female Indiana Jones and is a very well-executed character. She has a very strong and sarcastic personality, but not so much so that she overwhelms Selim or becomes annoying.

There are two kinds of people...
There are two kinds of people…

I also really enjoyed this fun twist: The English characters in books are almost always the tea-drinking, proper characters. In this case, it was the English woman who was adventurous and not at all proper, while the Turkish character is the one with the affinity for tea and quiet living. Awesome move.

Basically, this book is a lot of fun to read. Okay, so the storyline was less linear and more a series of random adventures. It didn’t have a particularly compelling plot, but the characters, witty dialogue, and sweet messages more than make up for that in my mind.

I was happy to hear that Disney has bought the rights to this graphic novel. They plan to make it live action rather than animated, which is an interesting choice. But hey, I’ll take it. This is fairly new news (it happened back in May), so I’m excited to hear what writers and actors they choose for this film.

I will be reading the next book in this series. It’s the kind of novel to read if you want to relax and have a smile put on your face.

Have you read anything from the Delilah Dirk series? What about anything by Tony Cliff? Is he not a master of humor and adventure? Please tell me if you have read, or plan on reading, this graphic novel!



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