Friday 25 April 2014

#CBR6 Book 36: "The Unwritten, vol 8: Orpheus in the Underworld" by Mike Carey and Peter Gross

Page count: 176 pages
Rating: 4 stars

This trade paperback of The Unwritten collects issues 42-49 of the comic. It's been going for years now and is really quite heavily arc-based, so I wouldn't start with this one. It's a great comic, especially for anyone who loves books and reading. Start at the beginning with Tommy Taylor and the Bogus Identity.

Tommy Taylor discovers that Lizzie is not lost, she's just trapped in the Underworld, and he resolves to find her and rescue her. He finds a way in through an Aboriginal folk legend told in the Australian Outback, but doesn't exactly arrive directly in Hades, because when does anything run entirely smoothly for Tommy and his friends? He has to travel through a desolate wasteland, nearly getting eaten, being offered sexual favours in return for food by destitute and starving Austen heroines, accompanied by the unicorn. When he finally arrives in the Underworld, he can no longer remember why he's there. Meanwhile, Didge is trying to solve a crime involving a series of grisly deaths that appear to have been caused by zombies, assisted by a not too enthusiastic Richie.  There's a troubled young boy whose notebook may hold clues, but he's too terrified to talk to them.

Every time I review this, I find myself at a loss to capture why it's such a good comic, and why people should try it and find out for themselves. I'm actually going to borrow from my previous review, apologies for laziness, but I have a very big backlog of books left to review. "The Unwritten is a difficult series to describe, and I don't feel entirely up to the task of explaining just how wonderful and interesting and special a reading experience it is. Mike Carey writes about the nature of storytelling, and identity, and how stories shape the world and the things we believe in. Peter Gross' art is also a thing of beauty, and he manages to illustrate the issues in so many different styles, depending on what the story demands. If you love novels, and stories, and the art of storytelling, you should really do yourself a favour and check this series out."

The volumes tend to end on cliff-hangers, and in this case, the end heralds a cross-over with another big fantasy series, Fables, which I read the first ten trades of and rather enjoyed. I've unfortunately not heard great things about the cross-over online so far, and it fills me with trepidation. I hope the rumours are exaggerated, because The Unwritten has been extremely strong throughout so far, and I'd hate for it to go downhill because of an audience-pleasing publicity stunt.

Crossposted on Cannonball Read.

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