Tag: Neil Gaiman

Norse Mythology

Cover image for Norse Mythology by Neil Gaimanby Neil Gaiman

ISBN 978-0-393-60909-7

“There were things Thor did when something went wrong. The first thing he did was ask himself if what had happened was Loki’s fault. Thor pondered. He did not believe that even Loki would have dared to steal his hammer. So he did the next thing he did when something went wrong, and went to ask Loki for advice.”

In the beginning, there was nothing but the mist world and the fire world. From these came Ymir, a giant both male and female, the first of all beings. Ymir was slain by Odin, called the all-father, for Odin both created the gods that you will read about here, and breathed life into the first humans. In these pages, Thor will acquire his famous hammer, the mighty Mjollnir. Loki will get his fellow gods into and out of trouble countless times, until he finally plays the trick that will lose him their trust once and for all. Witness the creation of the great walls of Asgard, the genesis of the gift of poetry, and the source of the gods’ immortality, as retold by Neil Gaiman.

Norse Mythology begins with a brief introduction chronicling Gaiman’s fascination with the Norse myths that have been carried down through the centuries. This section lasts only about six pages, and I would have been interested in further reflections on the place of Norse myths in our contemporary world, and how we relate to them today. Given the role these myths have played in Gaiman’s own works, he seems ideally suited to ponder the topic at greater length than the introduction affords. In this introduction, Gaiman identifies Ragnarok—the final battle—as a crucial element in his fascination; the Norse myths felt cyclical and alive thanks to this tradition of death and rebirth, and the inevitable end of all things, even the gods. Gaiman also briefly points out Norse gods whose names we know, but whose stories we do not have, because they were not recorded or passed down, before getting down to actually retelling the stories that are recorded.

Gaiman arranges the stories in a sequence that begins with the genesis of the nine worlds, proceeds through the creation of humanity, and finishes (or begins again) with Ragnarok, the “final destiny of the gods.” This arrangement speaks to the tantalizing cyclical nature of Norse mythology that Gaiman points to in the introduction as having so thoroughly captured his imagination as a child. The stories start out short, more informative than immersive, laying the necessary groundwork for understanding the mythos. Then Gaiman digs more heartily into the body of the work, obviously delighting in tales such as “The Mead of the Poets” and “The Last Days of Loki.” The tone ranges from humourous to epic, though much of the dialogue can be curiously modern throughout.

Most of the stories in the book are about Odin, Thor, and Loki, though other gods feature as well. My favourite of these was Kvasir, even if his role in the narrative is rather gruesome. As Gaiman points out in the introduction, there are many stories we don’t have, and gods who are remembered by name alone, their deeds and powers mostly forgotten. But Gaiman works well with what remains, particularly with the relationship between Loki and the other Asgardians. Gaiman mines the strange reliance and concurrent mistrust of this clever figure who was adopted among the Aesir. This relationship is particularly evident in “Freya’s Unusual Wedding,” in which Loki is charged with helping Thor retrieve his stolen hammer. Before going to Loki to seek help, Thor must first ask himself if Loki was responsible for the theft.

It is interesting to see in these tales similarities and connections to other mythologies and religious systems. Odin hangs from the world tree, his side pierced by a spear, not unlike Christ on the cross. There are three Norns, sisters very similar to the Fates of Greek mythology. The first man and woman are called Ask and Embla, not unlike the Christian Adam and Eve, though the Norse versions are created from wood rather than clay. The connections run deep and wide as the different traditions echo in surprising ways. Of course, as Gaiman points out in the introduction, the Norse myths that have come down to us were recorded after the coming of the Christianity, and it can be difficult to trace what was the root, and what was added later through comingling.

Norse Mythology includes an eight page glossary, which is helpful if you are reading the stories over a period time, because minor characters or artefacts reappear later, often with greater significance. I got quite confused at one point over whether Vali was the son of Odin or the son of Loki, but as the glossary so helpfully points out, there are actually two Valis. Many of the stories Gaiman chooses to retell here are in some way significant to the coming of Ragnarok, which is the final tale in the book, so the glossary is especially welcome as you reach that final convergence.

What begins with a patient laying of groundwork for the Norse mythos builds into epic levels of tension and mistrust as Ragnarok approaches. The gods in Gaiman’s hands are both powerful heroes and petty grudge-holders, sometimes magnanimous, but often untrustworthy. It is a retelling that feels at once fresh and accurate.

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You might also like Odd and the Frost Giants by Neil Gaiman

Odd and the Frost Giants

Cover image for Odd and the Frost Giants by Neil Gaiman, Illustrated by Chris Riddellby Neil Gaiman

Illustrated by Chris Riddell

ISBN 978-0-06-256795-6

“Nobody knew what Odd was feeling on the inside. Nobody knew what he thought. And in a village on the banks of a fjord, where everybody knew everybody’s business, that was infuriating.”

When Odd’s father dies while off raiding with the other Vikings, his mother eventually remarries. Feeling unwelcome in their new family, Odd decides to go live in his father’s old woodcutting lodge in the woods, even though it has been an unusually long and cold winter. It is in the woods that he meets a bear, a fox, and an eagle, but these are no ordinary animals. In fact, they claim to be the gods Thor, Loki, and Odin, banished from Asgard by a frost giant. So Odd sets out to help the gods reclaim Asgard, and bring spring back to the human realm of Midgard.

Originally published in 2008 for World Book Day in the UK, this is a newly illustrated edition of Neil Gaiman’s story. This new version imitates the style and design of Chris Riddell and Gaiman’s 2014 collaboration The Sleeper and the Spindle, though Odd and the Frost Giants is a little less opulent. It lacks the semi-translucent slip cover, and the silver highlights used here provide a less striking contrast than the gold used in The Sleeper and the Spindle. However, the silver does give an appropriately cool feel to this wintery tale. Riddell’s highly detailed line art remains consistently excellent.

It might stretch credulity that a human boy is called on to solve a problem that has stumped three Norse gods. But Gaimain has an interesting take on the gods; as immortals their natures are fixed, their personalities immutable. The frost giants have exploited those weaknesses to seize Asgard.  As a mortal, Odd is not just clever—Loki, obviously, is plenty clever—but he is also able to learn, change, and adapt, enabling him to tackle a problem that has stumped the immortals. He makes for an endearing protagonist, both resourceful and determined.

Early in the story, Odd injures his leg trying to cut wood after his father dies. He ends up with a limp and uses a crutch, but still strives to maintain his independence, especially since his new family can be cruel, calling him a cripple and an idiot.  A common trope in fantasy fiction featuring characters with disabilities is for them to be magically cured as result of their heroic deeds. A partial version of that takes place here, when Odd is rewarded by the goddess Freya. She heals his leg as best she can, taking away his pain, though he still ends the story with a limp, a cane, and one leg that will never be as strong as the other. Feelings about whether this is good disability representation could go either way.

The story here remains unchanged from the original, making this a beautiful new edition of a fun children’s adventure into Norse myth. And it will no doubt help whet the appetite of fans who are excited for Gaiman’s Norse Mythology collection, due out in February 2017.

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More by Neil Gaiman:

Cover Image for The Graveyard Book by Neil GaimanThe Graveyard Book

The Ocean at the End of the Lane

Fortunately, the Milk 

All Hallow’s Read: Troll Bridge

Cover image for Troll Bridge by Neil Gaiman and Colleen Doran Original Story by Neil Gaiman

Adapted by Colleen Doran

ISBN 978-1-50670-008-3

“It is good for children to find themselves facing the elements of a fairy tale. They are well equipped to deal with these.”

A young boy in rural England follows an abandoned train track until he crosses under a bridge. There he meets the troll, who declares that he will eat the boy for daring to enter his domain. But the boy is clever and strikes a bargain with the troll, promising to return to be eaten later, after he has lived more of life. After all, someone who has read books, and flown on airplanes, and seen America must be tastier than a little boy who has done none of these things. But as he grows up, the boy becomes desperate to renege on his bargain.

Troll Bridge is a graphic novel based on Neil Gaiman’s 1993 short story of the same title. This new edition from Dark Horse was adapted and illustrated by Colleen Doran. Gaiman’s original story can be found in his short story collection Smoke and Mirrors. It is a dark fairy tale that—in the manner of many Gaiman stories—is about children, but not for them. The boy starts out clever and beguiling, talking the troll out of eating him immediately. But that survival instinct takes a dark turn as he grows up and goes to ever greater lengths to avoid being consumed. The little boy who seems resourceful to escape the troll becomes the kind of teenager who describes his first love in terms that make your skin crawl:  “I fell for her like a suicide from a bridge.”

Doran’s work suits the atmosphere of the tale well, equally capable of capturing the fairy tale and the gothic. Some sections have distinct comic-book style panels, but Doran also incorporates large illustrative spreads that suit the fairy tale vibe. Her troll is grotesque and monstrous, and the colours of the illustrations become progressively darker as the boy grows up and innocence recedes. In fact, this is Doran’s second crack at Troll Bridge; in an interview with Comic Book Resources, Doran discusses making an initial pen-and-ink attempt at it in the 1990s.

A creepy adult fairy tale about a dark coming-of-age, Troll Bridge is a perfect fit for an All Hallow’s Read.

All Hallow’s Read is an initiative by Neil Gaiman to encourage readers to share scary books at Halloween. Learn more at:  http://www.allhallowsread.com/

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Cover Image for The Graveyard Book by Neil GaimanYou might also like The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

The View from the Cheap Seats

Cover image for The View from the Cheap Seats by Neil Gaimanby Neil Gaiman

ISBN 978-0-06-226226-4

“Ask me with a gun to my head if I believe in them, all the gods and myths that I write about, and I’d have to say no. Not literally. Not in the daylight, nor in well-lighted places, with people about. But I believe in the things they can tell us. I believe in the stories we can tell with them. I believe in the reflections that they show us, when they are told. And, forget it or ignore it at your peril, it remains true: these stories have power.”

The View from the Cheap Seats begins with a short general introduction, but moves fairly quickly to the essays themselves. The individual pieces are not introduced, though there is a brief note at the end of each explaining where an essay was originally published, or a talk delivered. I preferred to flip to the end and read this information first so that I had some context for the piece. This was helpful since some of the essays and speeches are quite old, and others rather recent, spanning a period of about thirty years. While it is sometimes nice to get more reflection from the author in a work of collected non-fiction, getting straight to the point does allow for more pieces to be included, and this book already clocks in at 502 pages, less the credits and index. In it, Gaiman champions libraries, defends intellectual freedom, reflects on science fiction and comics as art forms, and sheds light on his stories and writing process.

I read my first Neil Gaiman novel nearly a decade ago now. Since then I’ve seen Gaiman speak in person twice, and I regularly follow his current articles thanks to social media. But reading The View from the Cheap Seats was a bit like being able to travel back in time, back to before I knew who Neil Gaiman was, or to the window where I did know, but didn’t yet have Twitter or the ability to attend a signing or lecture. It was also a bit like being able to rummage around in Gaiman’s filing cabinets, dredging up old introductions, and speeches given at a time when such things were more ephemeral, and often only available to those who were there. Of course, someone has very kindly gone through and organized and annotated those filing cabinets for you, collecting ideas, and arranging related pieces in chronological order. Themes emerge, and you can almost see how certain ideas evolved or coalesced over time.

One of the pieces collected here is “Make Good Art,” which was a commencement address Gaiman delivered at Philadelphia’s University of the Arts in 2012. The video went viral, and the following year it was published as a small gift book designed by Chip Kidd. However, I was very happy to find it in this collection, because I could never bring myself to buy the book, for as many times as I have reread that speech and seen the video. Kidd is a very well-regarded designer, but our tastes—particularly in colour palettes—are vastly different. Though it could be included here based on popularity alone, “Make Good Art” is also integral to the collection for another reason; it can be seen as the distillation of a theme that runs through many of the pieces in the book, some of which were published in the 1990s: the exhortation to focus, above all, on creating quality work.

One of the earliest glimmers of this theme comes in the form of a cautionary speech, delivered to the Diamond Comics tenth annual retail seminar in April 1993. Entitled “Good Comics and Tulips,” in it Gaiman compares the unprecedented comics boom of that period to the seventeenth century Dutch tulip fad that gutted the economy of Holland when it inevitably collapsed. In the address, Gaiman pleads with the salesmen to remember that comics aren’t investment items, but stories, and that “comics are for reading and appreciating, like tulips are for planting and blossoming and appreciating.” Many people were basking in the financial glow, or fueling the idea of comics as investment items, but Gaiman was already worried about losing sight of the more integral—and sustainable—demand for good, old-fashioned story-telling.

Of course, that isn’t to say that Gaiman doesn’t ruminate on the business side of things. In addition to discussing craft and genre, he also includes a piece that was originally published as the introduction to Cory Doctorow’s book Information Doesn’t Want to be Free. The introduction talks about the changing financial environment for artists in the digital era. But Gaiman approaches this as he does many other things, through fiction, in this case by comparing the ability to effortlessly duplicate digital content to a 1958 short story by Ralph Williams entitled “Business as Usual, During Alterations,” about a department story that acquired a matter duplicator that enabled them to create unlimited copies of their merchandise while keeping the original. Like the author, and the magazine that published the story, Gaiman is optimistic that artists can continue to evolve and adapt to the new environment; people always want good stories, even as how they get them changes.

Many of the pieces included here are introductions to books Gaiman loved as a child, a good number of which have been largely forgotten since then. But Gaiman can make you care about things you’d never heard of yesterday, and find interesting angles on artists, and writers, and musicians outside of your normal wheelhouse. For all that he left journalism behind to make things up, he is a wonderfully insightful interviewer and columnist who seems to know intuitively where our empathy lives. The View from the Cheap Seats is a book that makes you want to read things, and listen to things, but most of all to make things.

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Cover image for The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman You might also like The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween fellow book lovers! For the last couple years, my book’o’lanterns have been based on current reads, but this year I went classic with a tribute to Sherlock Holmes:

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Last year I featured a carving inspired by Maggie Stiefvater’s The Raven Boys:

the-raven-boys-pumpkin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And my inaugural book’o’lantern was based on the paperback cover of  The Night Circus  by Erin Morgenstern:

pumpkin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here are some spooky and supernatural reads for the season:

Hansel and Gretel by Neil Gaiman

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

Dead Set by Richard Kadrey

Dead Witch Walking by Kim Harrison

 

 

The Sleeper and the Spindle/ Hansel and Gretel

hansel-and-gretel-and-the-sleeperWritten by Neil Gaiman

Illustrated by Chris Riddell/ Lorenzo Mattotti

ISBN 978-1-4088-5964-3/ 978-1-935179-62-7

In the past week, Neil Gaiman has released two new picture books—Hansel and Gretel in the United States, and The Sleeper and the Spindle in the United Kingdom. Neither one is available on the opposite side of the pond yet, but both can be purchased online. Each work reimagines well-known fairy tales, though The Sleeper and the Spindle pulls from more than one source. Gaiman’s retellings are hauntingly well-written, as well as notable for featuring active and resourceful female protagonists. The settings remain medieval, but the context is decidedly more modern; Gaiman gathered inspiration for Hansel and Gretel from his visits to Syrian refugee camps in Jordan. Meanwhile, The Sleeper and the Spindle has drawn attention in the press, which has latched onto this image of the Queen kissing the sleeper to wake her:

 

wake-the-sleeper-chris-riddellDespite this striking illustration, The Sleeper and the Spindle is no lesbian love story; the Queen has a handsome prince waiting to marry her back home, though he is never pictured. This misleading attention is the only respect in which readers may find themselves let down by this story, which is not what early coverage of this title may have led you to believe.

With Gaiman’s strong writing working so seamlessly, in both books it is easy for the art to take centre stage. The Sleeper and the Spindle is illustrated by Chris Riddell, who also did the drawings for the UK edition of Fortunately, the Milk last year (the US edition was illustrated by Skottie Young). However, the mood is entirely different from the zany images Riddell produced for that book. The black and white drawings here are graceful and minutely detailed, subtly accented by shimmering gold highlights.  The story features a young Queen, whose kingdom is endangered by the spreading sleeping sickness that plagues a neighbouring realm, and threatens to spill over into her own land.  Assisted by three dwarves, she passes under the high mountain range that separates the two nations, and sets out to rescue the sleeper from a castle encased in thorns. This epic quest gives Riddell broad scope for his powers, and he more than delivers. Indeed, the entire book is an exquisite work of art, with beautiful end papers, metallic ink accents, and a translucent dust jacket that allows vines and roses to overlay the sleeper on the cover.

into-the-woods-lorenzo-mattottiPainted in lush, dark India ink, Lorenzo Mattotti’s work in Hansel and Gretel is also black and white, and yet could not be more different in style from The Sleeper and the Spindle. Whereas Riddell’s work is delicate and detailed, Mattotti is boldly minimalist, relying on a masterful use of positive and negative space to create his images. There are a number of beautiful double-page spreads in The Sleeper and the Spindle, but in Hansel and Gretel, text and image alternate constantly, so that every illustration is able to take up two full pages. However, even the text-only pages are beautiful, featuring flowering vine motifs in the corners, and bold, red dropped capitals that are the only hint of colour in the entire story. The book’s design has a modern minimalism, but is no less beautiful than its more opulent sibling in its own way.

Like the illustrations, the text of the story is deceptively simply, but the starkness is chilling. The woodcutter’s dilemma is created by war and famine, leaving the man unable to provide for his children. As in the original Grimm’s tale, the woman who advocates for the abandonment of the children is their mother, not their stepmother, making the tale that much more disturbing. However, Gaiman retains the reluctant father, who his persuaded by his wife to do something terrible; in Grimm’s, both parents are complicit in the decision. These narrative choices strike a nice balance, creating a tale that is at once haunting and hopeful.

The Sleeper and the Spindle is the longer and more complex tale, perhaps better suited to a somewhat older audience that has the patience to sit through a lengthier story. But as usual, Gaiman’s works defy easy categorization for age groups, appealing to adults and children alike.

Top 5 Fiction Reads of 2013

These are my favourite fiction titles read or reviewed (not necessarily published) in 2013. Click the title for links to full reviews. My top 5 non-fiction titles for 2013 will go up Thursday.

A Constellation of Vital Phenomena (ISBN 978-0-7704-3640-7)

Cover image for A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony MarraAnthony Marra’s debut novel is set in Chechnya around five days in 2004. From the woods behind her home, eight-year-old Havaa watches as her father, Dokka, is “disappeared” by Russian soldiers. Desperate to save Havaa from the same fate, Ahkmed, the incompetent village doctor who dreams of being an artist, delivers her to a nearby hospital, and into the reluctant care of Sonja, a British-trained physician trapped in Chechnya by the war. Marra’s lyrical prose contrasts with the brutal reality of the war torn country in which his story takes place. Dark and depressing on one hand, and buoyed by hope on the other, A Constellation of Vital Phenomena delivers the highs and lows life under difficult circumstances. Full of beautiful, striking details, this moving and resonant novel captures the heartache of war, and the depths of human resourcefulness in a narrative that will remain with you long after the final page.

Categories: Contemporary

The Ocean at the End of the Lane (ISBN 978-0-06-228022-0)

Cover image for The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil GaimanA man returns home to Sussex for a family funeral, but instead of attending the wake, he finds himself revisting the ancient Hempstock Farm, home of his childhood friend, Lettie. As he sits next to the pond that Lettie called her Ocean, he recalls seemingly impossible events from his childhood. When he was seven years old, the suicide of a boarder at the edge of this ancient property set off a chain of supernatural events, unleashing a malevolent force convinced of its own beneficence. A relatively short novel, The Ocean at the End of the Lane simply distills everything that is wonderful about Neil Gaiman’s work into a smaller, more concentrated story that highlights his skill as a story teller for all ages.  This novel is for those adults who do still want to read about daft things like “Narnia, about secret islands and smugglers and dangerous fairies.”

Categories: Speculative Fiction, Fantasy

The Golem and the Jinni (ISBN 978-0-06-211083-1)

Cover image for The Golem and the Jinni by Helene WeckerDebut novelist Helene Wecker combines mythology from the Jewish and Arabic traditions to tell the stories of two magical creatures who arrive in the diverse  immigrant community of New York in the late 1800s. Chava is a masterless golem, brought to life from clay by a disgraced rabbi who practices dark Kabbalistic magic . The jinni emerges from an ancient flask taken to a Syrian metal smith for repair. Strangers in an unfamiliar land, both the golem and the jinni struggle to find a place in their new home, while trying to conceal their true natures from the people around them. Wecker brings the immigrant communities to life as the two beings forge an unlikely friendship despite their opposing natures. Their relationship between them and their two communities will be key to defeating the evil forces that are converging around them. This novel is rich in both mythology and historical detail.

Categories: Fantasy, Historical Fiction

The Dirty Streets of Heaven (ISBN 978-00-7564-0768-1)

Cover image for The Dirty Streets of Heaven by Tad WilliamsEarthbound angel Doloriel, also known as Bobby Dollar, is a heavenly advocate, charged with defending the souls of the recently departed at their final judgement. He goes head-to-head with the demonic advocates who want to claim those same souls for the ranks of hell. Closer to humans than angels, Bobby has never met God, isn’t much of one for prayer, and doesn’t really trust the angels and principalities higher up the heavenly food chain. There’s no love lost on their side either, so when a soul Bobby is supposed to be representing disappears before judgement, he worries that he will be held responsible if he can’t track it down. But of course, this case runs deeper than one missing soul.  Tad Williams masterfully blends urban fantasy with noir detective fiction in a fast-paced adventure that engages with Christian lore and puts a new spin on angels and demons. Book two, Happy Hour in Hell, also deserves an honourable mention as one of the best books I read in 2013. 

Categories: Urban Fantasy, Mystery

Eleanor & Park (ISBN 978-1-250-01257-9)

eleanor-and-parkEleanor and Park couldn’t be more different from one another. Park has had a normal middle class upbringing, even if he was occasionally teased because his mother is Korean. Eleanor, on the other hand, was kicked out of her home by an abusive step father, and spent a year living with family friends who didn’t really want her. Eventually Richie lets her come home, but the abuse has only gotten worse in her absence. Eleanor sticks out like a sore thumb at her new school making her a target for bullying, but sitting next to Park on the bus offers her some measure of protection. One bus ride at a time, they build a tentative friendship that quickly becomes first love, even as the situation seems to doom their romance to failure. Rainbow Rowell has written a YA novel that is at once hard and brutally truthful, but also beautiful and touching. Slow paced and yet never boring, Eleanor & Park is an entire book made up, almost exclusively, of tiny, amazing, resonant, details. Rowell’s second novel of 2013, Fangirl, also deserves an honourable mention.

Categories: Young Adult, Romance 

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Looking for more excellent reading? Check out my top fiction reads from 2012.

Fortunately, the Milk

Cover images for Fortunately the Milk by Neil Gaiman Author: Neil Gaiman

Illustrator: Skottie Young (US) / Chris Riddell (UK)

ISBN 978-0-06-2224077-1 (US) / 978-1-4088-4176-1 (UK)

I think there should have been some nice wumpires,” said my sister wistfully. “Nice, handsome, misunderstood wumpires.”

“There were not,” said my father.

Mum has gone off to a conference to present a paper on lizards, and Dad is left alone with his two kids. He thinks he has the situation under control, but after making tea and hot chocolate, there’s no milk left for breakfast cereal, or worse, for that essential morning cup of tea. Dad goes out for milk, and returns much later, spinning a wild tale about being kidnapped by aliens, held captive by pirates, traveling through space and time with a stegosaurus, and nearly being eaten by wumpires before finally making it home. Or possibly he got caught up talking with Mr. Ronson from over the road. But whatever happened, fortunately, the milk made it home, too.

Playfully told by Neil Gaiman and comically illustrated by Skottie Young (US edition) or Chris Riddell (UK edition), Fortunately the Milk is an imaginative lark through space and time. Dad’s adventure is filled with shameless exaggeration and matter-of-fact ridiculousness. Parents will appreciate the lengths to which Dad will go to spin his story, and kids will delight in the way his children try their best to catch him out. The plot has a slightly Whovian feel, albeit the sort that you might find from a Dad telling his kids a story about the legend of the Doctor, as opposed to an episode of the show itself.

The American edition is illustrated by Skottie Young, whose exaggerated art style lends itself excellently to Gaiman’s over-the-top narrative. Look especially for Sister’s imagining of “nice, handsome, misunderstood wumpires.” Young also wins extra points for depicting bottled milk, while Riddell opts for a carton.

The Dad of Chris Riddell’s book is reminiscent of Gaiman himself, although the hair isn’t nearly wild enough. If you are reading the UK edition, don’t skip the afterword on the artist; keep a special eye out here for the wumpire Pale and Interesting Edvard. There is also a fantastic fold out page in the middle of the book, featuring Splod, the “god of people with short, funny names.”

The good news is that no matter where you live and which edition you will be getting as a result, Fortunately, the Milk is an excellent tongue-in-cheek adventure. Though different, both artists bring their own sense of humour to bear to complement Gaiman’s writing.

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Also by Neil Gaiman:

The Ocean at the End of the Lane

Chu’s Day

The Graveyard Book

Sandman Volume 1

Click-Clack the Rattlebag