Monday, August 5, 2013

A New Fairy Tale & Ballet

"Raven Girl" by Audrey Niffenegger


The latest work by author of "The Time Traveler's Wife" Audrey Niffenegger is a modern fairy tale, written to also be the story of a ballet. The plot is deceptively simple. A postman finds a young female raven that has fallen from her nest. He takes her home and eventually they fall in love. From their union the Raven Girl is born. The rest of the tale is her story.

This is illustrated work which has very little text, as do most fairy tales. But that doesn't mean the story it isn't rich. Niffenegger uses a tone that is a gentle mixture of "Brother's Grim" style mixed with some amusing 21st century additions which make the work feel both classical and contemporary at the same time. This also makes the story all the more whimsical and you'll find yourself laughing when you come across the bits of modernity. 


The etchings here are more evocative than beautiful, but they certainly show a level of drawing talent. The muted colors used also add to the atmosphere of the story which, despite its necessary "happily ever after" ending, is hardly a pretty story. Of course, fairy tales aren't supposed to be filled with only sweetness and light, since then there would be no conflict.

Despite all this praise, there were a couple of things that didn't sit absolutely right with me. To begin with, at the beginning of the story the postman is given a letter to deliver which leads him to the nest where he meets the young raven. While some detail goes into this unusual letter, afterwards it is never mentioned again. I also feel that the ending was a touch rushed. But these are the only niggles I could find in this book.

For someone who doesn't usually read illustrated or graphic novels, I was surprised just how much I enjoyed this. Since it is so short, I'm sure I'll be reading it over again, and often. In fact, I might even consider buying some of her other illustrated works. I'm also now curious to see if this is ever turned into a ballet. I can imagine it would be very interesting, if they can find the right composer for the music. For all this, I'll give it a solid four out of five stars and recommend it - but only if you buy it as a "dead tree" version, because effect of this book won't be the same on an eReader. 


(This review originally appeared on Dooyoo under my username TheChocolateLady)
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