Fables, Vol. 1: Legends in Exile by Bill Willingham
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
There is something irresistible about fairy tales to me. So fairy tale retellings that capture what I appreciate about the source material and take it in a new and interesting direction are greatly appreciated.
Fables is a great example of what a fairy tale retelling can accomplish. The artwork itself is beautiful and vibrant. Truly colorful and appealing--successful in using the visual medium to tell the story.. The writing is sharp and witty, and adult without veering into distasteful elements that take me too far out of fairy tale land.
Willingham shows us what a stranded group of fairy tale character might very well end up becoming in the modern world. Snow White has quite a backbone, tough and independent (and beautifully illustrated to capture what we see as distinctive to her character), and she's a bit bitter after what her Prince Charming does to her. And who can blame her? Beauty and her Beast have a trouble marriaged. Pinocchio is a foul-mouthed boy who never grew up, and he's not happy about it. My favorite character is the Wolf who ate Grandma, who is now a sheriff in Fabletown. His grooming leaves something to be desired, and he's rather grumpy. But he definitely has some hero caliber. I liked the sparks that flew between he and Snow White. Snow White isn't looking for her prince any longer, so maybe she'll look past that previous attraction to a smooth, handsome exterior to a real man who has something of substance to offer when she's ready to try again. I think she will. In the meantime, they can trade insults and work as a team to solve a mystery that has plagued Fabletown.
While Legends in Exile does deal with dark themes, it's not excessively violent or dark. Instead, it's realistic and plausible based on what we know about these iconic characters we encountered previously in the fairy tales we read growing up. For a fairy tale addict like myself, it was fun to guess who each character was before their names are mentioned, and I made notes to look some of them up. I am working my way through the Blue Fairy Book by Andrew Lang right now, so it adds to the experience.
As you can tell, I liked the Big Bad Wolf a lot and Snow White. Bluebeard makes an appearance, and did get get a shiver about his pre-Amnesty past, which makes me very suspicious of him in his future romantic endeavors. Rose Red, Snow White's sister definitely has not fared well in her time in the modern world. Jack (of Beanstalk fame) is still a rascal.
I liked that this was essentially a mystery story, with our Wolfish sheriff who serves as the sleuth, with a little help from Snow White and others. There was also a short story at the end that tells you how our Wolf came to be the man we see today. It was just as good as the rest of the book. This is a good start to the series, and I am thrilled that my library has most of the series and some spin-offs. Did I mention how much I love my library? I look forward to continuing and exploring more of the Fairy Tale characters' adventures in the real world.
Overall rating: 4.5/5.0 stars.
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