I had a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for a review. I couldn’t resist, it’d been a while since I’d seen the film which I loved so I couldn’t remember the entire plot. With the names: Guillermo Del Toro and Cornelia Funke on the cover, it’s a promise of something wonderful. (Inkheart books by Cornelia Funke are wonderful and of course Guillermo Del Toro is an amazing director, one of my favourites).
Synopsis from Netgalley:
“You shouldn’t come in here. You could get lost. It has happened before. I’ll tell you the story one day, if you want to hear it.
In fairy tales, there are men and there are wolves, there are beasts and dead parents, there are girls and forests.
Ofelia knows all this, like any young woman with a head full of stories. And she sees right away what the Capitán is, in his immaculate uniform, boots and gloves, smiling: a wolf.
But nothing can prepare her for the fevered reality of the Capitán’s eerie house, in the midst of a dense forest which conceals many things: half-remembered stories of lost babies; renegade resistance fighters hiding from the army; a labyrinth; beasts and fairies.
There is no one to keep Ofelia safe as the labyrinth beckons her into her own story, where the monstrous and the human are inextricable, where myths pulse with living blood …”
When I started reading this book reality fell away, I was right there with Orfelia standing at the beginning of the labyrinth. I could see her world so clearly and found myself following her. She had to perform tasks reminicent of myths but far creepier.
There’s dark fairy tales throughout the novel, explaining backstory and adding depth and atmosphere to the story. But this is no Disney story with a happily ever after, this is more like a Grimm fairy tale or some sort of creepy fable. Reading these fairy stories was a surreal experience for me, I could hear a voice in my head telling me these weird but wonderful stories.
The character of Vidal is a horrific psychopath and one of the many well wrought terrifying characters in this book, though not the scariest!
I can’t fault this amazing, wonderfully dark and perfect book.It’s an engaging fantastical story and the words of the ending recall childhood memories of reading lovely fantasy books. Nostalgic but also beautifully dark. If you like horror and dark tales you’ll love this.
If you’ve seen the film: the plot is the same but there is more depth to the book and after watching the film again I think both are perfect!