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Beautiful Darkness Hardcover – February 25, 2014
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From School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—What starts as a common fairy tale trope—Prince Hector and Princess Aurora are having tea the day after a ball—quickly turns dark and disturbing. The prince is charming but self-absorbed, and the princess is somewhat flighty and unprepared, when the ceiling appears to fall in, and they find themselves in a dark forest filled with other refugees, all Borrowers-small. While Aurora and her friend Plim adapt to their surroundings, taking charge and feeding the others they have found, Hector is only concerned with staring into space. None of the characters notice the dead body that they are playing on and living around (a human-sized girl, also named Aurora), and do not question where the items they are using are from (quite possibly the corpse's purse). The forest's animals do not speak, distancing this from other fairy tales. The end does not find our characters rescued but living in the shack of a hermitlike human man, referred to as a giant. The artwork is cartoonlike and colorful, in contrast with the morbid and macabre tone. All of the protagonists are wide-eyed, though the animals and bodies are drawn realistically. Purchase where teens like their graphic novels and fractured fairy tales on the dark side.—Suanne B. Roush, formerly at Osceola High School, Seminole, FL
When Princess Aurora’s world implodes, she puts her courtship with the handsome prince aside to help make a life for herself and the other fairylike folk of her kingdom who inhabit this gorgeous, brutal book by award-winning French writer Vehlmann (Isle of 100,000 Graves, 2011). In scenes that mirror the worst of human behavior, the more Aurora blithely goes about putting things in order, the more those around her scheme, betray, belittle, and disregard everything our morality tells us the characters should care about. The delicate, haunting, and beautiful watercolor artwork by Kerascoët helps to enhance the fairy-tale setting, juxtaposing the small, petty characters perfectly against the lush blues, greens, and purples used to create the huge forest that surrounds them. The result is a story that shocks as it entertains and is predictably unpredictable. As the seasons turn and wide-eyed Aurora loses her amiable innocence, the reader is left not knowing whether to cry or cheer when Aurora finally decides she’s had enough. --Eva Volin
Top customer reviews
The story centers around what appear to be a bunch of small fairy-tale type folk who live in the woods. Or are they dolls come to life? And where did they come from, and how long have they been there? They almost feel as if they have just recently arrived, and at times you wonder if the small female lead is some manifestation of the real world body of a dead girl that is near their homes. As the only ethical person in the lot, she takes up the mantle of provider, trying to help others in this "lost boys" tribe of immature and bratty wee-folk, just as the decomposing dead body helps the nearby animals of the forest floor.
Fans of Vertigo's "Fables" will like this, particularly those who think that long running series is now growing a little stale and could use a shot of creativity like what is on display here. The painted color artwork is often cartoony but still proficient, and works well with the little houses and their interiors for animals (think David Peterson's "Mouseguard" series, "Stuart Little" , "A Cricket in Times Square", "The Rescuers", etc.). It also provides a nice foil to this fairy tale like story that starts out sweet but quickly turns the darkest shade of black. A strangely satisfying book considering it seems like it is both missing a beginning and leaves you wanting more at the end.
Originally published in France, this english hard bound version comes in at 94 pages. No information on the writers or artist is included, making who put this book together and what else they have worked on almost as much of a mystery as the story they wrote. If you're looking for something fresh and new this is a great way to go.
- the art really is incredibly gorgeous.
- the story and excecution is successful in that is GREATLY disturbed me, which is what it intended to do.
- I think what keeps me from loving it is that at many points the characters are inconsistent: at many points it lost track of characters' motives and drives. For example, at some point they found something gross and then at another point they found something equivalent to be no biggie.
- I think the author did a good job portraying cruelty but when no one around is bothered by it, it becomes banal and that detracts from the shock value.
So yeah, I have mixed feelings.
I'm also forever scared.
And even if you don't like the story, just look at that amazing art! Just wonderful watercolors.
The trivialization of violence and death are also abridged in depth with the themes within the book. The lack of boundaries and morals make for a perfect and beautifully done comic!