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Down the Mysterly River Hardcover – September 13, 2011
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Eisner-winning comics creator Willingham (the Fables series) makes his middle-grade debut with an action-packed and often touching novel...that explores the nature of characters and authorship…The end result is a stellar example of a novel working both as an adventure tale and as metafiction. (Starred review, Publishers Weekly on the works of Bill Willingham)
Willingham's Fables comics tapped into the deep fairy-tale structures in my psyche and never let go. Now, Down the Mysterly River finally delivers the same opportunity for younger readers. Lucky them! (Cory Doctorow, New York Times bestselling author of Little Brother on the works of Bill Willingham)
From the Publisher
In his Heroes Wood, Bill Willingham has created an enchanting new land of magic and adventure that might lie just down the river from Toad Hall, down the road from Narnia, or over the hill from the Hundred Acre Wood. Willingham gives us deadly sword fights, narrow escapes, lethal traps, surprising betrayals, and all of the other necessary elements of a thrilling adventure tale. But at its heart this is also a mystery story, and if the four fugitives cant first solve the mystery of the Heroes Wood they may never live to reach sanctuary. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
Top customer reviews
Bill Willingham, best known for his comics work, gives us his first, and latest, prose novel. First, because he originally wrote it years ago and published it himself, and latest, because it has been revised for this edition. His only other published novel ties into his Fables comics series. This, however, is a completely original story. It's been compared to Wind in the Willows because of the talking animal characters, but the postmodern themes help make it wholly original.
Willingham writes with a straightforward style reminiscent of oral storytelling. He doesn't draw attention to elaborate turns of phrase, but still possesses a clear, distinct voice. He also writes with a great deal of humor, as is evident from the first line: "Max the Wolf was a wolf in exactly the same way that foothills are made up of real feet and a tiger shark is part tiger, which is to say, not at all."
Overall, the tone feels heavily influenced by classic children's adventure literature. But Willingham gives us more than a simple homage. He adds on a layer of postmodernism that gives his style a unique twist of relevance. Ultimately, it's a deeper story than it seems on the surface (but to say more would be to give the game completely away).
While the characters' backgrounds are necessarily kept vague (as that's part of the mystery), Willingham crafts personalities for them that make the reader truly care about them. When the action comes--and it comes swiftly and furiously--we worry about the characters. When bad things happen, we feel sad. And when good things happen, we feel elated. And he has possibly created the most realistic cat, in terms of attitude, I've ever seen in literature.
I don't want to see Willingham abandon comics. However, I do hope that this represents the start of a long career in prose, independent of his comics work. Clearly, he's more than adept in both.
What was done to MacTavish the Monster was ... ick. I wouldn't recommend it for my younger nephew, just yet, but the older nephew and nieces would hopefully enjoy this "juvenile" novel. Heck, I'd recommend it to my sisters!