Monday, March 19, 2012

Peter & Max (fiction), by Bill Willingham - Fables, love & revenge

Peter and Bo live up on The Farm,
keeping to themselves after Bo's crippling accident,
near the moon-jumping cow and that talkative puss.

Oh yes, storybook folk and creatures live in our boring mundane world, leaving behind the enemies and evils that attacked them in their magical homeworlds. But you won't find Fabletown on any maps of New York City and no country road will let you drive to The Farm upstate where all the magical animals stay. None of the Fables want to draw the attention of the mundy populace - laying low is their key to staying alive.

But here comes Peter's brother Max, asking for admittance to Fabletown after all these years of evil power and magical domination over Hamelin, outside the mysterious Black Forest.

He wants revenge, he wants Bo Peep, he wants to take over a new kingdom.

Even if you haven't read the Fables graphic novels, you'll enjoy the twists and turns of familiar Fables with Willingham's skillful backstory additions. And Fables fans will delight in this long-form narration which fills in some storyline gaps while staying ever-true to the series.

p.s. remember that the Fables series started publication over 10 years ago, well before TV shows like "Once Upon a Time" - see this interesting article by Bill Willingham.

Book info: Peter & Max (a Fables novel) / Bill Willingham; illustrations by Steve Leialoha. Vertigo/DC Comics, 2009. [author's website] [publisher site]

My Recommendation: Left for dead in the Black Forest, Peter and Max are separated from their minstrel family and must find their way through its terrors alone. Sinister forces prey upon the Piper brothers’ minds, twisting one toward wrathful revenge while the other draws closer to the magical music of the flute given to him by their father.

Making such otherworldly music exacts its price, and Peter’s mouth collects many small cuts and scars as he plays. Max finds an instrument of his own, invoking its darker powers to get back at Peter and anyone who may have helped him escape the Black Forest.

Yes, this is the tale of Peter Piper, whose playing gladdened the heart, and of the Pied Piper of Hamelin, who lured away all that town’s children. So long have their stories been told that the people are now Fables themselves, including Peter’s childhood friend and love of his life, Bo Peep.

Replaying the same dark vengeance wearies even Fables, so Peter and Bo decide to leave their storybook land and retire to an obscure corner of the human world. Such an unmagical place shouldn’t attract the dangerous interest of the dark forces who pursue Fables in their enchanted homelands – but sometimes evil slips through Fabletown’s watch spells and guards.

Max has come into the human world, and he plans to duel Peter to ultimate death, taking Bo Peep as his prize. Can Peter win this fight without exposing Fabletown to the humans?

Peter & Max is the first novel based on the long-running Fables graphic novel series, and author Bill Willingham has called on series cartoonist Steve Leialoha to provide illustrations for this compelling story. Whether you’re a longtime fan of the series or are visiting Fabletown for the first time, you’ll enjoy meeting familiar storybook characters in most unfamiliar circumstances. (One of 5,000 books recommended on Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.


  1. This has to be a fully charged book with all those characters in this strange new world. Loved the cover, too. Thanks for the review.

    1. No brotherly love lost between Peter & Max, that's for sure! A really compelling read as it has believable plot twists that fill in gaps in the traditional tales.

  2. I've never even heard of this graphic novel, but the book sounds like it's really good.

    1. This book was my first encounter with the Fables series, too. It includes a mini-chapter at the end in the graphic novel style (definitely not kiddie comix).


Thanks for visiting! Spam, spam, spam lately, so no Anonymous comments for now.