Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Review: Peter & Max by Bill Willingham

Summary: A new stand-alone FABLES NOVEL from award-winning and wildly acclaimed author, Bill Willingham.

This story stars Peter Piper and his incorrigible brother Max in a tale about jealousy, betrayal and revenge. Set in two distinct time periods, prepare to travel back to medieval times and learn the tragic back-story of the Piper family, a medieval-era family of traveling minstrels. Then, jump into the present to follow a tale of espionage as Peter Piper slowly hunts down his evil brother for a heinous crime, pitting Peter's talents as a master thief against Max's dark magical powers.

Based on the long-running and award-winning comic book series FABLES, PETER AND MAX is its own tale. Readers don't have to be familiar with the comics to fully enjoy and understand this book. (from

Review: I heard about this book from a high schooler who suggested it for the book club. When he gave a quick overview I thought it sounded interesting and went ahead and reserved it from the library. Let me say- what a great book! I love fairy tales, so the premis instantly appealed to me. I'm not a huge fan of comics so I have never read the Fables series, and I don't think that it hurt me when picking this book up.

The concept is pretty easy- all those fairy tale charecters from Cinderella to Red Riding Hood are all real, and living in exile in New York, both in the city and on an Upstate farm. The book begins with Peter Piper discovering that his brother Max (who is our villain) has returned, and must be stopped. From there we go on a great adventure as the story jumps from Peter's quest to find Max to the tale of how Max became the villain he is.

One particular thing I loved was how seemlessly Willingham wove the familiar tales and charecters together. I don't know enough about the history of the tales to know if this was the original intention, or if it was a plot decision by Willigham alone, but I loved seeing how many different tales we find Peter Piper in. He picks a peck of pickled peppers, but we also see him keeping his wife in a pumpkin shell. Two seperate tales (to my knowledge), but artfully used as plot points in the story. They don't detract from the story either, they are just little moments that move the story forward. I thought it was fabulous.

I liked the way that even though the bulk of the book was action there were moments of quieter, more personal moments. Peter is married to Bo Peep, and their relationship is seen at it's beginning and as it is in the present, so it's a nice balance to the action and adventure that fills the book.

Overall this was a great book- it was a nice departure from my usual YA and I'm sincerely hoping that Willingham write more stand alone books.

About Willingham:


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