Beautiful Darkness

Overview

"A fairytale where the darkness is only natural: the real world of Beautiful Darkness not only includes but embraces decay, calm indifference, and animals who act like animals, just like life - and death. And neither its prince or princess are quite what we expect. Read it outdoors for maximum effect."—Kathe Koja, author of The Cipher and Under the Poppy

"A brilliant premise executed with panache — Vehlmann and Kerascoët's fairy world has the offhand cruelty of the ...

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Overview

"A fairytale where the darkness is only natural: the real world of Beautiful Darkness not only includes but embraces decay, calm indifference, and animals who act like animals, just like life - and death. And neither its prince or princess are quite what we expect. Read it outdoors for maximum effect."—Kathe Koja, author of The Cipher and Under the Poppy

"A brilliant premise executed with panache — Vehlmann and Kerascoët's fairy world has the offhand cruelty of the Alice books and the offhand sweetness of Moominland — Donahey's Teeny Weenies and The Borrowers can be felt here  too — and yet it really it seems without precedent, every page a surprise in style and form and content."—John Crowley, author of Little, Big and Aegypt

 

Kerascoët’s and Fabien Vehlmann’s unsettling and gorgeous anti-fairy tale is a searing condemnation of our vast capacity for evil writ tiny. Join princess Aurora and her friends as they journey to civilization's heart of darkness in a bleak allegory about surviving the human experience.  The sweet faces and bright leaves of Kerascoët’s delicate watercolors serve to highlight the evil that dwells beneath Vehlmann's story as pettiness, greed, and jealousy take over.  Beautiful Darkness is a harrowing look behind the routine politeness and meaningless kindness of civilized society.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
★ 10/14/2013
A whimsical tea-party in bright pastels turns bitter in the first pages of this macabre graphic novel for grownups. Pretty, cheery faerie Aurora and her band of tiny companions crawl out of a young girl’s corpse in the woods and quickly find themselves in a strange new world, starving as well as besieged and brutalized by insects, birds, and mice. Some of her companions are clueless, others are cruel, and their arboreal paradise quickly becomes a Lord of the Flies–style horror. Kerascoët’s lush illustrations of the tiny little fantasy people are highlighted against realistic natural scenes of the wood’s rich flora and fauna. This blend of imaginative characters in the physical world inspires gasps and shudders when nature overcomes them: the little people are savaged and preyed on not only by the animals but also by each other. A midbook full-page illustration of nature engulfing the long-dead girl in the woods is both heartbreaking and shocking. Aurora’s attempts to manage this society of self-obsessed little persons drive her into a brutal, feral state—her horrific retaliation against nature pushes her away from her fellow faeries, even when they invade her new safe place. This unforgettable graphic novel hovers on the edge of your daydreams and nightmares. (Oct.)
From the Publisher
“A twisted tale that draws from the likes of Alice in Wonderland and The Borrowers, only Beautiful Darkness presents a much bleaker allegory about brutality. As the tiny people lose hope, their underlying pettiness, greed and jealousy become evident despite their polite words and pretty faces.”—Los Angeles Times Hero Complex

"This unforgettable graphic novel hovers on the edge of your daydreams and nightmares.”—Publishers Weekly Starred Review

"You've seen countless stories about cute little creatures living secretly in our world, but you've never read one like Beautiful Darkness. It's a world that's as adorable as it is cruel, where life is beautiful but also cheap, and where death is omnipresent.”—io9

“Set against the saccharine sweet storybook aesthetic of Kerascoët’s rapturous watercolors, Vehlmann’s narrative is a sinister saga that you won’t be able to put down.”—Nerdist

"The watercolor artwork here is painfully beautiful, and the book is...best read on three separate sittings — one day for each season — to take in rise and wane and grudges of the miniature empires.”—Buzzfeed

"It’s The Borrowers meets Lord of the Flies.”—Comic Book Resources

School Library Journal
05/01/2014
Gr 9 Up—What starts as a common fairy tale trope—Prince Hector and Princess Aurora are having tea the day after a ball—quickly turns dark and disturbing. The prince is charming but self-absorbed, and the princess is somewhat flighty and unprepared, when the ceiling appears to fall in, and they find themselves in a dark forest filled with other refugees, all Borrowers-small. While Aurora and her friend Plim adapt to their surroundings, taking charge and feeding the others they have found, Hector is only concerned with staring into space. None of the characters notice the dead body that they are playing on and living around (a human-sized girl, also named Aurora), and do not question where the items they are using are from (quite possibly the corpse's purse). The forest's animals do not speak, distancing this from other fairy tales. The end does not find our characters rescued but living in the shack of a hermitlike human man, referred to as a giant. The artwork is cartoonlike and colorful, in contrast with the morbid and macabre tone. All of the protagonists are wide-eyed, though the animals and bodies are drawn realistically. Purchase where teens like their graphic novels and fractured fairy tales on the dark side.—Suanne B. Roush, formerly at Osceola High School, Seminole, FL
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781770461291
  • Publisher: Drawn & Quarterly
  • Publication date: 2/25/2014
  • Pages: 96
  • Sales rank: 174,150
  • Product dimensions: 8.20 (w) x 11.00 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Fabien Vehlmann is a French comics writer who has been nominated for the Angoulême International Comics Festival Award a number of times. He is best known to North American audiences for his collaboration with the Norwegian cartoonist Jason on Isle of 100,000 Graves.

Kerascoët is a husband-and-wife cartooning team best known for illustrating the book Miss Dont Touch Me written by Hubert, as well as a couple of the Lewis Trondheim Dungeon books.

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