Tuesday 15 November 2011

Reviews: - Fables: 1001 Nights of Snowfall & Legends in Exile by Bill Willingham

The Fables series of graphic novels by Bill Willingham is one of my newest and most awesome discoveries in the graphic genre. I originally found out about it at Sophisticated Dorkiness, and after doing a bit of research I thought it sounded exactly like my kind of thing. This is really a double review of two Fables books: 1001 Nights of Snowfall, which is a kind of prequel, based around the Scheherezade/ Arabian Nights concept, and the first official book in the series, Legends in Exile.
The Fables (Snow White, the big bad wolf, Beauty and the Beast and the rest) have been forced to leave their magical homelands by an enemy known only as The Adversary, and have taken refuge in a suburb of New York which they have named Fabletown. Here they’ve lived among humans for centuries, and here is where Legends in Exile begins. Although it is the first book, I am glad that I read 1001 Nights of Snowfall first, as it explains a lot of the set-up of Legends in Exile, such as how Snow White and Rose Red came to be estranged, how Old King Cole became the mayor of Fabletown, and the beginnings of  Bigby the wolf. Fables runs the risk of being ridiculous – anything based around fairytales always has the potential for childishness – but it completely isn’t. Legends in Exile, more than 1001 Nights of Snowfall, is a very adult, raw and complex and I loved it. The fairytale characters are presented with all the uncomfortable edges of humanity – all their flaws are jarringly present and obvious.
Legends in Exile is pretty much a murder mystery. Rose Red’s apartment is found trashed and covered in blood and Bigby, the head of the Fabletown police force, is called in to investigate. Red’s sister, Snow White is the assistant to the mayor of Fabletown, and she becomes involved in the hunt for her estranged sister’s killer. The plot follows the development of the investigation, and the revelation of Rose Red’s entangled love life, starting with her boyfriend Jack (as in Jack the giant killer, of ‘and the beanstalk’ fame), and quickly warping to involve a complex relationship with Bluebeard, the guy who kills all his wives...
I thought that the way the story developed was very enjoyable. Although it wasn’t the most shocking ending ever, the story was still pacy enough to keep me engrossed and wanting to read the next one (which I now have). I always love new takes on fairytales – many of you will know that this is the subject I’m apt to geek out the most about – and I love that Willingham has stripped fairytales back to what they would be like if they were actually about real people in the real world. What I’ve read of the Fables series so far has a ring of authenticity that fairytales generally lack, and I think that’s probably what I found the most powerful about them. I also really liked the artwork, especially on 1001 Nights of Snowfall. It is often quite stark and fairly brazen (as are the stories), while retaining some of the traditional fairytale, ethereal feel.
The rest of the series has gone on my wishlist...

1 comment:

  1. I just wanted to let you know that I sent you an email about the Best & Worst guest post series. Sometimes the spam filter will grab these emails, so I thought I'd give you a heads up. Thanks for signing up for the series!