March of the Wooden Soldiers Vol. 4
Bill Willingham, et all
This, for me, is the book where Fables became Fables and I started to understand why everyone and their dog was so in love with this series. It is fast paced, occasionally brutal, surprisingly filled with truth, and, as always, gorgeously drawn. Puzzle pieces start dropping together and lives start falling apart. I lurv it. The adversary makes a move on Fabletown and our heroes/rogues/villains have to fight back while still trying to have personal lives and pay the rent. So far, my absolute favorite in the series. This is also a high bar to set, because a lot of plot happens here and it’s about twice as thick as the previous volume. Which is great, but please read them in order.
Mean Seasons Vol. 5Bill Willingham, et all
That thing I just said, about the high bar? Yeah, this is what I meant. Most of this volume is taken up with fallout from holding off the enemy, and dealing with character development. These are great and needful things, but I was so spoiled by how much plot and action and breathless “oh god more please now” was crammed into the previous edition that I just couldn’t help feeling a bit let down. Still quite good though. Note: it is also really, really sad. Like, existentially.
To be honest, I bought this book because I was curious about how it would handle the idea of a post Katrina NOLA and in this regard I feel like I made a solid purchase. I still wish it would have incorporated more, to feed my ghoulish need to see all the mess from the view of an insider, but it felt like the sorrow and devastation were just about right. Hmm, that sentence feels wrong somehow. :D The plot is brisk and not as romance-heavy silly as the cover implies, and if nothing here is incredibly new, than at least it is handled well. Characters are just southern enough without seeming like freaks or cutouts, the setting is authentic feeling and a refreshing change from the ubiquitous Seattle/Portland of most UF, and the plot is handled well, though more of a suspense than a mystery, which is fine. This is one where the writing is good enough to make me ignore the occasional annoying romantic entanglement, or super trope-y magic system. I would recommend picking it up used wholeheartedly.
Storybook Love Vol. 3Bill Willingham, et all
A lot happens in these pages, don’t get me wrong, but this is also the volume where the monthly publication schedule feels hardest pushed and most irritating. Mostly, my bitch is that it feels like set up and is massively episodic. As it must be, to keep on that kind of schedule. Reading a comic, even once it’s been bound into volumes, is what it is, but here I feel the disparate pull of the needs it’s trying to meet—and not always succeeding in meeting them. Still, this is an absolute necessity for getting through the next volumes. And it nevertheless offers more than the average of great writing, fun characters, and fabulous artwork.
This book. What to say about this book? Hmmm. Well, to start, I should own that I picked it up because of Author Confusion. I thought it was by Meljean Brooke, a romance author whose steampunk is shockingly enjoyable. It is not. My bad.
I almost put the book down forever after the first chapter. Because it begins in villain POV land. Which we all know I despise. But even worse, the POV functions as a master class on why I find them so damn squicky. Because it is written like a Criminal Minds episode. Vicarious violence to women, whoa-who,more, MOAR! There is utterly no functional need for it. It is intentionally awful. It is also intentionally cruel, demeaning, and torture-porn titillating. But I kept going. Someone had recommended me this; it must get better. And it does. That’s the problem. Our heroine is blind, but wonderfully functional, her love interest is believable, but still macho and fun. Side characters set up the rest of the trilogy and seemed interesting enough to sustain it. The mystery was twisty and enjoyable. At the ½ point it felt like escapism romantic suspense fun. This is why I have such a big problem: because the villain POVs came back. What this means is that I’m supposed to consume torture porn as a part of my fun escapism. That torture porn is fun. No likey. Also, at this point, characters start making stupid decisions so that the author can soapbox and/or move the plot along. And also, the book isn’t so much a part of a trilogy as 1 book split into 3 easy payments. But the writing, oh the writing is great. The prose style is swift, even funny, and I loved the choice to make our lead blind without ever making her disabled. But I will never give these books any more of my money. Never recommend that anyone else do, either. No matter how well they’re written, I cannot and will not condone the idea that gratuitous violence against women-1st person depictions of rape, murder, torture, and evil--should ever EVER be a part of my leisure time. I finished this, yes I did. And then I took a shower.
A note on Grading: on my Scale A=I might buy the hardback; B=pay trade cover price; C=get it used or from the bargain bin; D=used if you’re in to self flagellation; F=what, are you stupid?