Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Fables: Rose Red

I have fallen in love with the Fables series of graphic novels.  How could anyone not love the fairy tale twisted subversive dark delightful funny stories that Fables tells?  Imagine all your favourite fairy tale characters together, along with mythic creatures, witches, ogres, gods and goddesses, and then imagine worlds upon worlds of fairy tale tellings to plunder.  There is something so marvellous about this series, it's got so much going on in it, and it's fun and scary and funny.  Beauty is married to Bigby, otherwise known as the Beast.  Rose Red and Snow White, Prince Charming, King Cole, Pinocchio.....and these are adult fairy tales, mind.  So naked fairies abound, plus dark sorcery, spells and enchantments.  And the funniest look at politics and trying to hold a city, a haven and a farm together.  I love the mix of the stories, of all these characters together. 

Rose Red is about - Rose Red.  Remember the fairy tale Rose Red and Snow White?  Well, Snow is happily married to her Prince, but Rose Red is lying in misery on her bed, sulking because she has never forgiven Snow White for disappearing and marrying the Big Bad Wolf (Bigby).  We get the full story of Rose Red and Snow White growing up in their cottage, of the bear who comes to stay in winter nights, of the dwarf who Snow White saves three times, only to discover that he is a thief and is stealing magical items.  To evade his curse she is sent away, and so we get to see the real story of the 7 dwarves, and how Rose Red copes with her sister's death, and then discovery it was faked.  Rose Red is about Rose discovering the full truth at long last, because Fable Town is in danger from Death.  See?  I told you it was dark and magical and good.

I had borrowed this copy from the library, and last month I had borrowed a copy of Witches, the book in the series preceeding Rose Red. My original review is here.

Witches is the story of how Death was once captured, as the great mythic powers are wreaking havoc on many different worlds, slaying and laying waste to people in such great numbers (just because they can), that a group of monks decide to devote their lives to capturing them.  Witches features Buffkin the talking monkey, who along with a group of fairies, saves the day.  They stop Baba Yaga, the witch of the title, who complete with her walking house, has a plan to get out of the central land she is in, and make her way through all the worlds. The other great power causing havoc is Death. He is creepy and scary, very reminiscent of the gentleman from Buffy the Vampire episode from Season 4.  He makes people turn into zombies just by being near him.  He is a creature of nightmare.  And so powerful that even in the box he was captured in, his power leaked out and tainted whoever came near him.  Witches ends with the end of Baba Yaga, and Death moving into New York City.

The artwork in these graphic novels is stunning.  I'd like to frame so many of the pages!  The dialogue is uncanny, in that each character is captured in speech rhythms and use of words.  The characters are true to their original sources,even if the stories they find themselves in are adult now.  It's like a continuation of their original stories, told for grown-ups.  I can't rate this series highly enough.  If you haven't tried Fables yet, try one.

I think of all the ones I've read so far, Rose Red might be my favourite.  It could be that it features the bear in the woods, the dwarf with the stolen treasure - I loved seeing that fairy tale again here;  it could be that we see what realistically happens between Rose Red and Snow White, and how they finally come together again as sisters, or just that we see Rose Red finally get out of her bed and reclaim her place as mayor of  the Farm.  I think it might be all of those, and the love story that is in the background too.  Oh, and Beauty and the Beast's baby - you have go to see what happens!!

I read Rose Red for Carl's Once Upon a Time Challenge.  I think I will be looking for a copy for myself, for my upcoming birthday.  I like it that much.


Cath said...

I've seen these talked about in various places (Kailana was one I think) but never seen or tried any of them. I'll check the library but do not hold out much hope. LOL!

Geranium Cat said...

I nearly missed my favourite challenge, thanks to my blogging hiatus! Can't stop - I'm off to decide on my books for it - but Fables looks good. Won't be in our library, that's for sure.

JaneGS said...

I think fractured fairy tales are really appealing. I like what you conveyed about the Rose Red story, and Witches also sounds really good.

I like the images you selected...captivating.

Gavin said...

I've read a few of these and enjoyed them. I have to check out the next one from my library.

Susan said...

Cath: I was surprised when our library did have them! So I'm reading what I can find, they don't seem to have them all. I hope you, like Geranium Cat below, can find some to read somewhere.

Geranium Cat: I'm so pleased you are able to blog again! welcome back! lol I hope you can find a way to borrow these from somewhere, they are good to read. I have to come see what you're choosing for the challenge now :-)

Jane: I never thought of them as fractured fairy tales slap to my head! of course they are.... lol Witches was almost as good. I found more to resonate with in Rose Red, for me personally. I hope you find some to read, then you can let me know which one you prefer :-)

Susan said...

Gavin: Your comment came in as I was answering! Have you read either of these two? Which ones did you read? they are so much fun, aren't they?

Andi said...

You are about the third person to recommend these books recently. Clearly I need to read them. Thanks for writing about them with such passion.

Buried In Print said...

Oh I know, right? Falling in love with them. That's exactly it! They are so fantastic. Part of me wants to gobble them all up in a day, and the other part of me is making me wait for a few months inbetween so that they will last and last and last (and then I can re-read!). Enjoy!

Lynn said...

I actually do remember Snow White and Rose Red - but most people I mention this to don't know who Rose Red is and think I'm just missing out the seven dwarves! This sounds and looks lovely!
lynn :D

Kailana said...

I love Fables! I am so excited for the releases this year... Two Fables, a new Cinderella one, and then an entirely new spin-off!

Carl V. said...

So glad to read that you've fallen for these. The series is really amazing.

When you get a chance I would highly recommend adding the novel Peter and Max to your reading list. It can be read anytime during this series as it stands alone and it is a really wonderful novel set in the Fables universe. He has another one out now, Down the Mysterly River, that I hope to get to during Once Upon a Time.

Susan said...

Andi: I know, they are graphic novels, and so not serious books, which is what i thought before I read any. I've discovered there's some wonderful story-telling going on in the graphic novel world. if nothing else, it will spark some ideas for writing, I hope!

Buried in Print: i tend to gobble them up, and now I'm considering buying my favourites so I can savour them slowly :-)

Lynn: I know, some people never read Rose Red and Snow's confusing with the names a little. This fairy tale always fascinated me, because it involved sisters who were alike and so differnt, like my sister and I were. This Fables also uses that very well. I hope you give it a try!

Kailana: Ok, so what is the spin-off? the Cinderella sounds wonderful - I can hardly wait to see what they do with it! It's partly because of you that I am reading this series, you and Ana and Chris especially....

Carl: Thanks! for giving me something new to look for, I hadn't heard of Peter and Max, and Down the Mystery River sounds intriguing too. It is a fun series, isn't it?