Inside you’ll find Jessica Dwyer’s book review for Checker Book Publishing’s release of A Bit of Madness, which is now available here and at many retailers. Madness is the fully painted European epic fantasy all in one book and the images are stunning. Read on for a look and to see what Jessica thought…
A Bit of Madness
By Emannual Civiello
Reviewed by Jessica Dwyer
Fantasy and Horror very often go hand in hand. Heavy Metal magazine showcases blood drenched fantasy epics every month (it actually showcased this one.) Films like The Sword and the Sorcerer had a healthy amount of gore and horror interwoven throughout its very Arthur like tale. The Dark Crystal with it’s large beetle like soldiers who enforced the Skeksis rule, let alone the Skeksis themselves were enough to make many a kid who saw this back in the 80’s have a hard nights sleep.
I make this point because this graphic novel, A Bit of Madness, brings you back to that heyday of Dark Fantasy (which has been renewed by the popularity of The Lord of the Rings trilogy.)
A Bit of Madness is really about the death of the land of Fairy and Celtic belief, of those legends and tales that were believed by many hundreds of years ago, and which were driven to the annals of myth by the rise of Christianity.
This is a tale about those creatures that are a part of that land and the fight and sacrifices made against the encroaching darkness that would take them away from the world. It’s depicted in breathtakingly beautiful art that reminds me of Froud and Boris Vallejo spilling out as one across the page.
The mood of the piece, with characters like the very reluctant hero Igguk and the deceptively powerful and crotchety witch Cornelia remind the reader of some of Jim Henson’s best work from Labyrinth and The Dark Crystal. The mood Civello brings to life on the page took me back to that beautiful wonder of those films as well as books like The Never ending Story. But this was far darker than those.
This is that type of fantasy grown up and bloody. Dark and ominous and filled with cute creatures going up against some very NASTY things, it’s a sight to behold. The Crow Queen Morridwen is the epitome of that darkness. She’s got a horrible beauty Civiello brings to her that is very creepy. You don’t want to think she’s beautiful, but you will.
My only complaint would be the following: The copy that I had was difficult at times to tell what character was speaking due to the layout of the dialog boxes. This may change with the publication. Also, the dialog itself could get a bit wordy and overly done. Sometimes it felt out of place for the setting which could distract you. But in the grand scheme of things these are forgivable.
A Bit of Madness is a great read and simply beautiful to look at. The story is in the end a bittersweet one, but the journey is grand. It is hopeful in a way, as we all know that these creatures of legend still are with us today, be it in book, film, or in our dreams and nightmares.
May the Fairy be with you