Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles!
This first review of April 2021 is one of a movie adaptation. It had been on my TBR for for a good two years beforehand, but I finally got to watch the movie, Pan’s Labyrinth, last summer. And cried like a baby. But that’s not the point.
Anyway, when I went to Barnes & Noble, I knew I had to pick it up! I’m glad to say that I liked it almost as much as I did the movie – a bit lacking in the writing department, but still managed to capture much of the dark, fairytale allure that Pan’s Labyrinth had in droves.
Enjoy this week’s review!
Thirteen-year-old Ofelia has always lived through fairytales, especially those in the books she carries around. But when she and her mother move to live with her new husband, the cold and murderous Capitán Vidal, it seems all of the magic has faded away. But when fairies appear to her in the night, Ofelia realizes that the tales in her storybooks may be real after all – and more sinister than she could have ever imagined.
Now, led through a dangerous set of tasks by an enigmatic faun, Ofelia grows closer to the fairytale world that she may be the key to. But the deeper she ventures, the more dangerous they become. The Faun may not be trustworthy – but is the alternative any better?
TW/CW: graphic violence, torture, fantasy violence/body horror, blood, childbirth complications, past death of parent, death of children
I’ve been skimming through some of the reviews from people who haven’t seen the movie who thought that this was middle grade just because the protagonist was 13…and no judgement, none at all, I don’t blame you all, but man, I’m SO, SO SORRY.
I’m a huge fan of all things Guillermo del Toro (after all, he’s responsible for my comfort movie, Hellboy II: The Golden Army), so naturally, after watching this movie for the first time over the summer, I knew I had to pick this up soon. Now, I’m so glad I have a copy of my own – though it wasn’t without its flaws, this was a beautiful adaptation of a truly remarkable film.
Let’s start out with my only criticism: the writing. Of course, I’ve read some of Guillermo del Toro’s short stories and adored his style, but I think my main problem was with Cornelia Funke’s part of it; I read Inkheart some time ago and it wasn’t my thing, and I think some of those feelings resurfaced while reading this. For source material as brimming with faeries and dark magic as this, her prose didn’t fit at all. There’s a lot of telling as opposed to showing, a lot of “[they] felt” and “[they] knew” and similar phrases. While it wasn’t egregiously bad, some of the telling parts took me out of it.
Other than that? I don’t have any critiques at all! For the most part, this novel absolutely did justice to the book, and both del Toro and Funke clearly had a careful eye to make sure that this adaptation was as close to the film as possible. I loved revisiting the simultaneously dark and beautiful world of the fairies, and the human element was just as poignant and tear-jerking. Though the sting of…well, y’know, everything was dulled a bit by knowing the outcome (having seen the movie), everything was still so potent and gripping. Allen Williams’ beautiful illustrations also added a new layer to the novel, with renderings of Ofelia, the Pale Man, the Faun, and others in simple but striking pencil artwork.
I also loved the short stories woven within the chapters, and I loved seeing how interconnected they all were. Each one added a new thread of lore to an already intricate and detailed story, and it was fascinating to see how each and every short tale came together to flesh out an already well-fleshed-out world.
All in all, a beautiful adaptation of an even more beautiful dark fantasy film. 4 stars!
Guillermo del Toro is most famous for his many films, which include the Oscar-winning The Shape of Water, Hellboy & Hellboy II: The Golden Army, and Crimson Peak. Cornelia Funke is also the author of the Inkworld trilogy, the Dragon Rider series, and the Mirrorworld series.
That’s it for this week’s Book Review Tuesday! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourself!