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The One Hundred Nights of Hero: A Graphic Novel Hardcover – December 6, 2016
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"Greenberg's art perfectly suits the stories she's telling and the tone she's telling them in. Her rough line work is reminiscent of Kate Beaton'st Hark! A Vagrant and Emily Carroll's Through the Woods, and lends the stories, and their world, a folkloric charm."--Entertainment Weekly
"You've never encountered a gathering of fables as funny and Sapphic as this graphic novel."--O, the Oprah Magazine
"Greenberg is a staunch believer in the power of stories...readers get sucked into each one she tells. Highly recommended for adult readers, especially those who enjoy mythology and fable."--Library Journal (starred review)
"Greenberg combines elements from fairy tales, children's books, and folklore from around the world to create an original but teasingly familiar mythos... Above all, it's a book about the power of storytelling... Greenberg's primitive woodcut-style illustrations suggest folk art from another planet."--Publishers Weekly, (starred review)
"Wry and wise...sure to become a feminist classic.... A cry against oppression, a love letter to the human need for stories, a celebration of the many bonds between women, The One Hundred Nights of Hero will leave readers wishing Greenberg had written 1,000 nights instead."--Shelf Awareness
"Enchanting.... Greenberg's artwork is whimsical, and her plots reference countless fables. But there's also real darkness, and the stories speak movingly of the desperation of a narrow, patriarchal world in which 'happily ever after' often translates as forced marriage to a strange man."--The Guardian
Praise for The Encyclopedia of Early Earth
One of Time's Top 10 Fiction Books of 2013
One of National Public Radio's Great Reads of 2013
One of Slate's Best Books of 2013
One of Amazon's Top Ten Books of December 2013
A Top Ten Graphic Novel of 2013, Booklist.
"It's a book about many things--love, snow, God, poisoned sausages...but mostly it's a celebration of storytelling itself. Strange and wry and funny and beautifully drawn." ---Mark Haddon, author of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
"Greenberg speaks of storytellers, but she's a great storyteller hself, and it's easy to be pulled into the worlds that she writes, housed neatly by tight drawings in a style that is bright enough to bring these worlds to life, and detached enough to feel a little otherworldly." ---Kate Beaton, author of Hark! A Vagrant
"The Encyclopedia of Early Earth is a delightful accordian of a book. This graphic novel casts a spell like that of Scheherazade--when you sit down with it, prepare to stay until the last page." ---Eowyn Ivey, author of The Snow Child
"A loving homage to storytelling itself...Sewing her own sly humor, Greenberg deeply immerses readers in the themes and lessons of world mythology...Just as evocative is her art, which uses simple, childlike illustrations to channel the power of ancient cave paintings and archetypal images from our own imaginations. A unique, compelling standout." -- Jesse Karp, Booklist
"This little gem of a graphic novel is... Part storybook, part allegory, part meditation on the need for mankind to tell stories, the book manages to encompass all of existence without ever feeling too big for its britches. Never has a story about the primordial world felt so cozy." - A.V. Club
About the Author
Isabel Greenberg is a writer and illustrator who lives and works in North London. She studied illustration at the University of Brighton in 2010, and has worked for NoBrow Press, Seven Stories Press, and Solipsistic Pop. She is the winner of the 2011 Observer/Cape Graphic Short Story Prize.
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
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As always, Greenberg's art is bold, raw, and magical. Plot-wise, she skillfully succeeds in telling a story that is wondrous and whimsical, yet also dark and poignant. A gem that I will read again and again.
As far as the book itself goes - it was absolutely beautiful - great illustrations and so well written. I'll be reading this story with my children one day.
The One Hundred Nights of Hero opens with a bet between two men. One complains that he can never find a woman who meets his criteria, the most important of which is that she will be chaste and loyal. His friend disagrees. He knows exactly such a woman – his wife Cherry. And so the bet is formed. The husband will leave for one hundred nights, giving his friend the opportunity to try and seduce Cherry. And if seduction fails, he may very well turn to more brutal methods.
Unbeknownst to the two men, our heroine Cherry is in love with her maid, Hero. And the two women hatch a scheme to save themselves, one that’s straight out of The Arabian Nights: they will tell Cherry’s unwanted suitor a series of stories to keep him at bay. And thus is the frame for our collection born.
Like Encyclopedia of Early Earth, this graphic novel has a focus on the power of storytelling. But unlike its predecessor, The One Hundred Nights of Hero puts women and the love between women at the front and center.
“We shall tell all the stories that are never told. Stories about bad husbands and murderous wives and mad gods and mothers and heroes and darkness and friends and sisters and lovers… Yes! And above all… Stories about brave women who don’t take shit from anyone.”
Hero and Cherry are the heroines of our frame story, but their romantic love isn’t the only sort of love portrayed in The One Hundred Nights of Hero. Over and over again, the idea of sisterly love appears in the narrative. Whether it’s a case of sisterly love being the real true love as in the first story or when it’s sisters gone wrong, as in the retelling of “Twa Sisters.” As The One Hundred Nights of Hero says, “Sisters are important.”
Some of the stories Hero tells are tales original to this graphic novel, such as the very first story, in which five sisters learn the forbidden art of reading. Other stories are more familiar. “Twa Sisters” is retold in a relatively straight forward manner that doesn’t veer too far from the original. On the other hand, there was a much more original take on “Twelve Dancing Princesses.”
“So they were Gods, but also they were a family, because this story is all about that. About humans and human-ness. Fathers and daughters, brothers and sisters. Love and betrayal and loyalty and madness. Lovers and heroes and the passing of time and all those marvelous baffling things… those things that make us human.”
I find it hard to communicate all my feelings for this book. As Hero and Cherry’s time drew to a close, I feared for them more and more. The ending made me unexpectedly emotional (in a good way). This book is beautiful in so many ways. From the themes and prose to the art itself. I adored how Greenberg used strong blacks and whites with a limited color palette – it really fit the tone of the stories she was telling.
There’s darkness to this graphic novel, but ultimately it’s about sassy women smashing the patriarchy. Is it any surprise that I loved this book more than I ever expected? It is perfectly deserving of my first five star rating for 2017.
The book then dives into a story where a man named Manfred who believes there are no good women that live up to his incredible standards. Jerome disagrees, and the two end up making a wager; if Manfred can seduce Jeromes wife within 100 nights, he will get Jeromes castle and his wife. If he loses, Jerome gets Manfred wife. What the two don't know is that Jeromes wife, Cherry, is actually in love with her maid, Hero. Hero overheard the plan and the two start trying to figure out how they are going to outsmart the men.
The plan? Tell stories to keep Manfred distracted and occupied until the 100 days pass. But can they do it?
I cruised through this book very quickly and I loved every second of it! The first thing that drew me in was the artwork. It was so different from the graphic novels that I am used to and I thought it was very captivating. There were lots of bold lines and striking colors. However, there were only a handful of colors that were included, which I think really added to the overall beauty of the illustrations.
The writing was so lovely! I thought that it all flowed very well and I really enjoyed how everything came back around in a perfect resolution at the end. The tone was light for the majority of the story, but there were a handful of times that it turned a bit dark.
I absolutely loved the occasional sarcasm and all of the breaking of the fourth wall. For example, sometimes the narrator would comment on the story in a way that broke normal narration, like the narrator didn't know what was going to happen next. Once a character responded to the narrator directly and other characters overheard and questioned what he was doing. And numerous times, characters mentioned the plot of the story like they knew they were all in a story that was supposed to go from point a to point b.
I would definitely recommend this! It was such a fun and quick read, and the illustrations were wonderful. 5 stars!
My favorite passages:
... she just smiled, and kneeling beside him, she took his face and her cold little hands, and kissed his mouth. Well, it would not be possible to describe to you that kiss. But it is enough to say that it change the man, and he was lost to her.
Well, you and I know that in any good story like this, the mystery can only be solved by a plucky hero, youngest son type. But of course a great surplus of cocky princes turned up first, and one by one failed. Well, enter our plucky hero.