01 April 2010

Book Review: Fables (is flipping fantastic)

Title:  Fables: Legends in Exile
Author:  Bill Willingham

Buy  |  Borrow  |  Accept  |  Avoid

Plot Synopsis
New York City has its fair share of unusual people, but none more so than the group of refugees comprising a wide variety of fairy tale characters.  Forced from their home by a powerful adversary, they have set up an underground community complete with government, which they call Fabletown.  But now one of their own is missing, possibly dead, and the Big Bad Wolf is on the case.  He is aided by Fabletown's second in command, and the victim's sister, Snow White.

My Thoughts
Now comes the point where I gush like a thirteen year old girl.  Except screw Edward/Robert Pattinson, the object of my newfound obsession is Bill Willingham, the creator of the Fables graphic novel series.  I don't know what he looks like, how old he is, actually, I can't even positively identify that he is a he.  But I don't care.  I love him.  I love this world he has created.  And my checking account is in serious trouble as I plan on running out to buy the other twelve books in the series as soon as possible.  And from what I understand, more will be following these first 13 books.  Be still my geeking out heart!

Okay, to the meat of the matter.  First, how much fun is it to have characters from fairy tales and folklore smushed together in a new story?  I adore the use of known characters to create new worlds; the combination of familiarity and mystery excites me.  Snow White, the Big Bad Wolf, Aslan, the three freaking pigs, Prince Charming, Rose Red, Beauty and the Beast, I could keep going here.  It's too cool.

Outside of this, however, Fables has a lot to offer even if you have no freaking clue about the origins of the individuals.  The plot-line entertains, the relationships interconnect, the personalities are complex, the artwork is intricate, and the world is believable.  If I were to focus on everything I loved about this graphic novel, I would need an entire blog dedicated to it, so I'll try to limit my gushing to what you should know before reading.

Foremost, pay attention to the artwork.  I know that I sometimes have a problem doing that with graphic novels; I'm so used to reading text that I skim the images and focus on the words.  But in Fables, the minutiae of the story are clearly presented in the pictures, some of which are so unbelievably detailed, I could spend a large chunk of time exploring the frame.  I adore details like this in a graphic novel as I feel it helps to develop a world the reader can fall into.  A gently curling smoke trail, a clear and bright tear drop, a tensing of the neck muscles, these small intricacies add so much.  Then there are frames that just have so many intertwining figures and actions that they present an entire story unto themselves.  Wonderful.

Final recommendation:  I read this in one sitting and already I'm wondering how I can go about hiding 12 new graphic novels in the house.  So I'd say it's a definite need-to-read book.

Other Reviews
If I've missed yours, let me know!

Bart's Bookshelf; Fyrefly's Book Blog; A Striped Armchair; Bibliofreakblog;

FTC Disclosure:  I bought it.  And I'll probably buy the rest of them.  Unless someone can convince Bill Willingham to take pity on me and send me the rest.  Now, you guys are responsible for keeping authors from bribing us, but you don't have anything to do with it if I bribe an author, right?
Challenges: 100+ Reading Challenge, Reading ResolutionsGraphic Novels Challenge, Once Upon a Time, Hogwarts Reading Challenge,


  1. Wow, I haven't really had a whole lot of interest in graphic novels, but this is one I might definitely want to check out!! Love the characters, and of course, NYC, lol!

  2. I love your gushing and your alliterative title :D Welcome to Fables fandom! It gets even better as the series progresses.

  3. That why I don't read graphic novels, I can't concentrate on both the words and the pictures. Whew my brain can't handle it.

    I'll have to try again and look for these books though.

  4. Jenny - I never thought I would like graphic novels or comics. Then I watched 300 and adored it; then Sin City and adored it. Since both were based on graphic novels, I figured I'd give them a chance...and go figure...I adore them now!

    Stephanie - You should definitely check it out.

    Nymeth - I looked for your review of Legends in Exile, but I couldn't find one. Do you have a review up on your blog?

    Jenny Girl - It does take some getting used to, but it really is worth it once you develop the habit.

  5. Trisha, I don't - I read that one in my pre-blogging days. Thanks for looking, though!

  6. Yay! I'm so happy you love Fables! It's one of my favorite series ever. Does that mean you might use it in your class now? ;)

  7. Chris - It was just fantastic!

    Nymeth - Ah, the infamous pre-blogging days....

    Vasilly - I've actually asked the publishing house if they can possibly get Fables for my course!

  8. I have this one on my list..
    I am a cover sucker and loved the art.

    It is the first in the series right?

    It will now be higher up on my teetering pile. :)

  9. Shellie - The cover is fantastic, eye catching and intriguing. Yep, this is the first in the series, and my book buying ban is probably going to suffer as I really really want the remaining books.

  10. The way I've been slowing it down is to only get them from the library.

  11. LOL, great review! I actually wrote my Masters thesis over this series: the intersection/similarity between graphic novel adaptations of fairy tales and the oral tradition.

  12. You know I was resisting reading this series pretty good UNTIL NOW! :-)
    Great review! I really liked the idea of all these great characters, including fairy tale characters, together in one story. I hesitated because I was so far behind in the series, but alas, there's only 13 more you say?!


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