Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Book Review: Cinderella: Fables Are Forever by Chris Roberson et al.

Cinderella: Fables Are Forever by Chris Roberson, Bill Willingham, et al.

One of the modern variants on classic fairy and folk tales is the Fables series of comics and graphic novels. Fairy tale characters have been forced from their natural (i.e. fantasy) homelands by "The Adversary" and now live in New York City in a clandestine community called Fabletown. Characters who can't blend in with normal humans (monsters and anthropomorphized animals, like the Three Little Pigs) live in upstate New York on "The Farm." The characters have various adventures.

This book is the first one I've read and I could get most of the backstory from within this book (though I did some checking on the wikipedia article to make sure). This story follows Cinderella, who is a covert agent and assassin for Fabletown. As the title suggests, she's their version of James Bond. This particular story follows Cinderella's investigation of the murders of several sorcerers. Everything points to an old nemesis who she thought was dead. We see quite a bit of back story setting up the nemesis. Cinderella first ran into her on a mission concerning Fables who lived behind the Iron Curtain during the Cold War. Apparently there was a Soviet version of Fabletown and animosity between them and the Western Fabletown. We discover fairly soon that her arch-enemy is none other than Dorothy Gale, the Kansas girl who wound up in the land of Oz. The story goes all over the real world and occasionally the fantasy world as Cinderella hunts down leads on Dorothy's whereabouts.

The story is interesting both as an espionage thriller in the 007 vein and as an exploration of a larger world where mythological people more or less blend in. I have to say I was put off by making Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz into a villain. It just doesn't seem right to me. On the other hand, they do make well-suited adversaries. The fights are interesting and have some fun elements, including one fight over shoes, which makes sense for glass-slippered Cinderella and silver-slippered (ruby slippers were a technicolor invention for the 1939 movie) Dorothy.

Also, an extra story added about a diplomatic mission Cinderella is sent on--she has to get a treaty signed by the giants who live in the castles in the clouds. The current king has an ear infection and won't sign until he's better. The giants' doctor is a quack so Cinderella has to find a cure to get the signature. The story is fun.

I'm more interested in the Fables world after reading this book. I'll keep my eye out for the first book at the library.

Parental Advisory: As you may guess from the cover, there's a lot of scantily-clad women in the book. A discreet sex scene happens and is discussed later on in the story. Fights break out now and then but without any gore. Swearing/bad language is pretty minimal.  I'd say it's for late teens and up.

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