With holiday magic in the air, I thought I might get away with writing about some great fantastic (and magical books) without having a bunch of people vomit all over me... However, I also happen to know that a lot of you secretly and not-so-secretly love fantasy. And these are books with a twist.
As a teen, a friend introduced me to The Sandman by Neil Gaiman and although I had always shunned comic books, an instant romance was born. Gaiman is a mysterious magician weaving stories that are bizarre and strange, that usually leave you with more questions than answers. He also picks stunning illustrators to work alongside him. One of my favourites is Charles Vess. Vess' style could be best described as Art Nouveau meets 1930's comic book. Instructions, also by Gaiman, is a fairytale poem that might leave you rather quizzical and Stardust: Being a Romance in the Realm of Faerie, is pure indulgence! Go on fairy lovers, love it up! Of course you can always count on Gaiman to never follow the staight and narrow... There's DVD and Blu-Ray versions too. MirrorMask is a lovely, bizarre story that I reviewed earlier as an audiobook. It explores the intricacies and complications of mother/daughter relationships and I had the priviledged coincidence of listening to this in the car this summer while travelling back from Drumheller with my mother. Here's to unplanned synchronicity! MirrorMask is also a beautiful graphic novel illustrated by Dave McKean and a great video.
I discovered that Charles Vess has also illustrated some YA novels by one of my favourite Canadians (Saskachewanite to be precise), Charles DeLint! They're great! And short. In Seven Wild Sisters ginseng, bees and faeries mix! Featuring an Apple Man, an Old Aunt and Wild Hills, here's a short excerpt: "Most of her time was taken up with the basic tasks of eking out a living from her land and the forest... But you could buy your food instead of having to work so hard growing it.' 'Sure I could. But I've had to have me money to do that and to get the money, well, I'd have to work just as hard at something else, except it wouldn't necessarily be as pleasing to my soul.'... 'You find weeding a garden pleasing?', 'You should try it girl. You might be surprised.' " Medicine Road stars the Dillard twins Laurel and Bess (from Seven Wild Sisters) in a wild adventure in the Native Southwest. Check 'em out! Charles DeLint is also an artist, poet, folklorist & critic as well as playing in various bands -- he has just released a CD The Loon's Lament with his wife MaryAnn Harris and John Wood. It features cover art by Calgary's own Lisa Brawn!
The latest superstar to hit the scene earned his stripes working on animation for Toy Story! William Joyce has come up with the brilliant idea of re-working the characters of St. Nicholas, The Man in the Moon the E. Aster Bunnymund and others into "The Guardians of Childhood"; modern day super heroes inhabiting familiar, yet not-so-familiar folktales. These display some stunning SteamPunk style illustrations with a ton of adventure to boot. Maurice Sendak has said that The Man in the Moon is "a fabulous recapturing of an old, real fairy-tale world. Dark Mysterious. Stunning!" and Joyce's latest release Nicholas St. North and the battle of the Nightmare King has hit the shelves... just in time for the holidays.
And what fantasy suite is complete without a title such as The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle? “We are not always what we seem, and hardly ever what we dream.” The graphic novel adaped from Beagle's 1968 classic is lushly illustrated by Renea DeLiz and coloured by Ray Dillon. The library has just ordered Beagle's new book First Last Unicorn and other Beginnings. This includes letters, an unpublished novella about The Last Unicorn, interviews, correspondence and other snippets giving delightful insight into the creative process of this beloved master of fantasy. Over the holidays watch the DVD and Blu-Ray versions and then check our stacks in the New Year for the new book. Start the year off right!
Tolkien and Robin Hood Fans will appreciate Mouse Guard by David Petersen. Mouse life is treacherous and towns must be gaurded. Hence the formation of.. "The Mouse Guard"! Immerse yourself in a leaf-ridden, Ork-like medieval mouse's reverie (nightmare or dream?)! Mouse Guard vol. 01 Fall 1152 was critically acclaimed as best Indy Adventure Book of 2006 by Wizard Magazine and I can see why.
Mouse Guard: Legends of the Guard vol. 01 also created by David Petersen. This album brings together 17 different comic artists - aka "mice", as they gather together at June Alley Inn to compete to clear their pub tabs by telling the most creative and fantastic stories (a fun nod to the classic "Canterbury Tales" by Chaucer!)
AND... I'm so excited I can barely contain it!!! Alex may geek out about being a Potter fan but I'm a total Lord of the Rings girl and.. Yes! they released an unexpected trailer for Peter Jackson's upcoming The Hobbit! .... Why can't it be next year already?!?!?!?