Written by the renowned Neil Gaiman, this small picture book is unlike anything I’ve ever read. Perhaps picture book is too simple a phrase, for that conjures up something meant for a child, which this book clearly is not. At seventy-three pages, I read this tale in less than an hour. Every page is comprised of paintings, drawings, and even photography that weave in and out of each other and provide endless opportunities for inspection.
The story itself is something of a mystery, something of a fairy tale, something horrific, and something also amusing. It satisfies on every level, and as soon as I finished it, I immediately reread the beginning to find the clues I’d previously ignored. The signs are there. The omens are given. The fortunes read.
I don’t want to reveal much more about this story, for I think the less known the more fulfilling it is. Just know that it is masterfully written, with just enough dialogue, description, and narration to ignite a spark within your imagination not easily forgotten.
And, just as Gaiman created a provocative short story, Eddie Campbell delivers artwork no less significant. Like the story itself, the art of the book is multifaceted and unlike anything I’ve ever quite experienced. As already stated, Campbell sometimes works photography into the illustrations, sometimes creates beautiful paintings, and sometimes scribbles simple line drawings with a touch of color. Sometimes the prose and dialogue are placed within a traditional comic book sequence of panels, and sometimes they adhere to the traditions of a picture book with the prose within the illustration or juxtaposed to it.
I’ve read much of Gaiman’s work—comic books, children’s books, and novels—and I assure you that this is one of his most gratifying efforts.