11 November, 2009

Book 30: Fables, Legends in Exile, or: "You look out of breath, Jack. Been climbing beanstalks again?"

Title: Fables: Legends in Exile (2003)

Author: Bill Willingham

Why this book?
I was doing quality control for my mother - she buys graphic novels, I have the arduous task of reading them and deciding if they're appropriate for impressionable young women.

So what's it all about anyway?
After their various homelands and kingdoms were attacked by a mysterious and powerful evil, known only as "the Adversary", many fairytale creatures and mythological figures were forced to find refuge somewhere else entirely - in New York, in a part of the city which becomes known as Fabletown.

The Big Bad Wolf - aka Bigby - acts as Fabletown's sheriff, so when the infamous Jack discovers Rose Red's apartment trashed and covered in blood, it falls on him to find the culprit behind the vicious attack - and to discover what has happened to Rose. Has someone discovered the truth of the Fablefolks origins? Or is the person behind it a little closer to home? Rose Red's sister, the intelligent and capable Snow White, has never quite forgiven her sister for sleeping with her husband. Then there's Jack, who had a recent and very public break-up with Rose; and Bluebear, her current squeeze, used to have the happy little habit of cutting off his wives' heads. And what, exactly, is Prince Charming doing back in town...?

If Bigby doesn't solve the case, and quickly, it might just be the beginning of the end of Fabletown. He's sure there's more going on than meets the eye - but who's lying, and why? And hey - if he does solve it, it might just be that he gets his very own Happily Every After.

The Good and the Bad
It'll probably come as no surprise to you that I loved this graphic novel to pieces. It had my two favourite things: a murder mystery, and fairytale characters! That is pretty much the literary equivalent of a peanut butter and jam sandwich. And for a change, I have nothing bad at all to say about it.

Which isn't to say that it's perfect, but its biggest fault is that it's the first story arc in an ongoing series, so while it is a complete story, there are loose ends - the biggest being we have no real idea who the Adversary is, or why he or she forced the Fables into exile. Still, that didn't actually bother me: Legends in Exile was a full enough story that I didn't even feel the need to rush out and buy the next story arc to find out what happens next.

The way the various characters have been interpreted is definitely one of the book's highlights. Prince Charming was particularly fun, as a womaniser who has managed to schmooze his way across most of Europe. The illustrations were perfect, too - "gritty" and realistic, but not what I'd call ugly. As for the writing - it was dark without being angsty, funny without being silly, and noir-ish without being forced. In conclusion: Awesome.

So, should I read it or what?
Highly recommended.

Some time this century: The biography of a fashion icon, the lacklustre return of Winnie-the-Pooh, and Queen Victoria: Demon Hunter. That is seriously the name of a book. I'm pretty excited.


Shannon said...

This one is going directly into the To Read pile. I love fairy-tale reworkings and reimaginings.

Sadako said...

Murder mysteries and fairy tales are my favorite things, too! Sounds sweet.