The Book Depository Pan's Labyrinth: The Labyrinth of the Faun by Guillermo del Toro

4.8 out of 5 stars
The Book Depository Pan's Labyrinth: The Labyrinth of the Faun by Guillermo del Toro
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Description: Pan's Labyrinth: The Labyrinth of the Faun : Hardback : Harper Collins Publishers Inc : 9780062414465 : 0062414461 : 24 Sep 2019 : The letter 'i' is inverted in the title and subtitle on title page and cover. The Book Depository Pan's Labyrinth: The Labyrinth of the Faun by Guillermo del Toro - shop the best deal online on thebookbug.co.uk

 

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Author: Muse

Rating: 5

Review: 4.5/5 stars Firstly, I want to state that I’ve never had the pleasure of watching the movie version of Pan’s Labyrinth and so only had a vague idea about the story itself, therefore, I’ve had no way of comparing the book to the movie. What I will say though, is that I can definitely see how it would translate so incredibly well as a film, and therefore, unsurprisingly, it has made me want to check the film out. This novelisation was so easy to visualise though, that the cinematic aspect was not lost on me at all, given the vivid writing and the hauntingly beautiful illustrations that accompanied it. The illustrations truly took the story to the next level for me, as they were simple in terms of being just in black and white, but they had a certain enchanting quality, almost like the images you’d expect to find in an ancient book of fairytales. I’m not going to lie, some of them were extremely creepy, like the one of the Pale Man for example, so I guess they did their job of complementing the darker side of the story very well. I also enjoyed that some of the illustrations were of the things that Ofelia had seen in her book and then others were of her and the creatures of the underground. Ofelia was our protagonist and I adored her so much, she was the ultimate embodiment of both the innocence and the fierce intelligence that children can possess, and she’s probably the most interesting younger protagonist that I’ve come across. I mean, Ofelia has that unquestionable belief in magic, fairies and fauns that only children can have and doesn’t understand the complexities of the adult world, not so much in why people do the things they do, but why they don’t just change the things that aren’t good for them. For example, She’s intelligent enough to figure out that a dress her mother painstakingly made, isn’t really for or about her, it’s just another way for her mum to try and please her step father, by making Ofelia seem more put together. Ofelia understands what it is her mum is actually doing and saying with her actions, but she just can’t fathom why she would choose to and it’s honestly so heart breaking. Her being so shrewd also extends to how she views the Labyrinth and its inhabitants, she is so grateful to be given this escape from her miserable life at the mill, but she doesn’t allow herself to get completely swept away. This is most noticeable in the way that she is wary of the Faun, she sees the different aspects of his personality and although he could be being very pleasant, she’s constantly aware of his raw strength and the threat he could be. This story was just so sad to me, not necessarily because of all the horrific things her step father does to everyone, but because you can almost feel Ofelia’s suffering through the page. She loves her mother enormously and she has to just see her being mistreated and disintegrate right in front of her eyes, feeling powerless to help her. This is why I think that the Labyrinth and trying to complete the three tasks are so important to Ofelia, because they give her a chance to actually do something, especially in the case of the mandrake. I don’t think I knew how dark and creepy this was going to get, but I guess it’s keeping in the true sense of the original fairytales, that contained much darker undertones than the versions of them that are more palatable and popular today. There’s the general despair of Ofelia and her mother’s situation and the gruesome monster that is the Pale Man, stories of witches being drowned, and a malevolent watchmaker etc, but the true horror that was the realest monster of all, was Ofelia’s stepfather Vidal. Ofelia has him sussed from the very beginning and has even taken to calling him ‘the wolf’ in her head, because of his predatory behaviour. This man is terrifying to most of the adults in the book, so I can’t imagine the fear he struck in a child. It was so interesting though to see both this child and the adults thinking such dark thoughts about him, as the third person narrative allowed us peaks into many of the characters’ minds, they all agree on one thing though, this man is something other, evil beyond comprehension. It’s been a long time since I’ve read about a ‘villian’ who I loathed and unnerved me so much. I don’t think there’s any way I could prepare anyone for how despicable he is. He seemed to only feed off of the pain, fear and death he inflicted and it was unsettling to say the least. Though I despise him with my whole being, his character was a masterpiece, he’s one of the best villains I’ve ever read. At some point though, we got some sort of fairytalelike reason as to why he was the way he was, other than his miserable childhood, which actually explained quite a lot. The writing and structure of this story was fascinating and really gave it that otherworldly feel. This wasn’t told in simple story form, it was far more unique, the chapters were all very short and then the illustrations would separate the different sections. One could argue that this was extremely like a whole book of fairytales, as there were several mini stories in this that made up the whole. The different stories branched off into characters that were and also weren’t mentioned in Ofelia’s story set in the present, it was great to get more background on the characters that were included in the present though, like the witch and the Pale Man in particular. What all of the ‘side’ stories had in common though, was that they were all tales from the past and so in Ofelia’s story, we got to see how they impacted the present, if at all. I don’t mean this negatively at all, but all of the stories were quite melancholy and despairing, but they compelled me and great storytelling will always be great storytelling. Now, the writing in this was just so rich in both its descriptive prowess, its mystical air and yet, its unflinchingly raw human emotion, that I couldn’t get enough of it. This writing digs its claws in you and crawls its way inside, leaving you unable to look away from the more sinister parts and then marvel at the conjuring of the beasts of the underground. The writing excelled though, in the crafting of Ofelia’s stepfather and in the almost introspective thoughts that all the characters had in general, that the third person narrative so generously gave us. In short, this story was expertly told. In conclusion, this was a brilliant way for me to experience an endlessly fascinating story and I can definitely see why its movie predecessor has been held in such high regards. It is seductively creepy and menacing, but manages to still capture the childhood magic and innocence of the more tamed fairytales, with an injected dose of gruesomeness and the horrors that can exist in reality. Although we skipped to shorter stories throughout, the main characters still managed to root themselves in my heart, especially Ofelia and Mercedes. All of the characters, both major and minor, were exceptionally molded though. This story is riddled with beautiful metaphors and valuable examinations of humanity and what we consider to be fairytales, as Ofelia’s mother believes that being with Vidal is her fairytale. There is the fighting between Vidal and his officers against the rebels in the forest and then Ofelia’s somewhat internal battle against her stepfather and so this story was bleak in aspects, but the relationship between Ofelia and Mercedes really healed my heart. They were both fighting the same beast, trying to save their loved ones from Vidal in the best way they knew how and I treasure both of them deeply. This story may not always make complete sense as some things are so ambiguous and mysterious, but I don’t think it’s a story that is meant to make complete sense. Either way, it was a unique reading experience and I’m so happy that I’ve finally met this much famed story and can’t wait to see the film and therefore, I would definitely recommend it.

 

Author: Tristan Sherwin

Rating: 3

Review: Once upon a time—2006, actually—I set out on a quest to watch Pan’s Labyrinth. It was one of those rare and refreshing cinematic experiences that captivated my imagination and made me think, ‘now, here’s something different.’ Since then, I’ve been a huge fan of Del Toro’s storytelling ability, which has taken on something of the nature of the fairy tales he crafts; he weaves gold from straw, beautifully interlacing the world around us with an otherworldly ambience. Naturally, when I heard that a book was coming, I was curious. Would this work? After all, the treacherous journey from film to book has been attempted many times before, and it’s pathways are strewn with the corpses of prior attempts. So how does the novelisation measure up to the film? Well... erm... um... OK... ish, I guess. The movie obviously has the visual advantage in painting the presence of this dark fairy tale. On the other side, the book gives some glimpses into the story that easily slip through the cracks of the movie—a big plus for the book, and something I enjoyed. The book does convey the same magical story; the enchantment is there, the threat and danger are there, and the depth of characters are certainly there (more so than the film). However, its the prose that lets this adaptation down. As a plus side, the book attempts to tell this tale in the same way a fairy tale is told. The fairy tales that are layered throughout this story (and which are integral to its background) are told exclusively in this fashion. Whereas, real world events are narrated in a semi-fairy tale way, hinting at us that real life is just a dangerous and otherworldly. I enjoyed this stylistic approach; it suited the mood and nature of the story perfectly. Sadly, from time to time, when the real-world events got dramatic, this semi-tone fashion failed to convey the scenes suitably. It’s wasn’t a problem with word choice etc., but more to do with pace and transition. If there were only a few extra sentences leading in, through and out of these scenes, it would have made a world of difference. This doesn’t happen all the time, though; most of the time, it’s a smooth journey. But when these transition problems turn up, it’s like hitting a pot hole. Which is a shame, because they sadly interrupt what is, in the main, a beautiful retelling of the movie. To end on a positive note: There’s plenty to enjoy here, and, as a big plus, I don’t believe that you have to have seen the movie to relish this story. That said, for those of us who have seen it, it will make you want to rewatch it again. Which isn’t a bad thing. Ps. For those who have never seen the film, this is not a fairy tale for kids!

 

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