Monday, April 8, 2013

Graphic Novel Review - The Books of Magic by Neil Gaiman (4.5/5 stars)

Reading Level: Adult
Genre: Graphic Novel/Superhero
Size: 200 pages
Publisher: DC Comics
Release Date: April 14, 1993
ISBN: 978-1563890826
Stand Alone or Series: Stand Alone
Source: Bought
Rating: 4.5/5 stars

I have had this book on my shelf to read for a while. I finally got around to reading it. It was a very very good read. It ties into the story of some of the top magic users in super hero history, has cameos from the Endless, and discusses the repercussions of using magic.

Timothy Hunter has been identified as having a great capacity for magic should he choose to use it. He is identified by the Trenchcoat Brigade (consisting of John Constantine, the Phantom Stranger, Dr. Occult and Mister E) and offered a choice to explore magic or not. Each of these practitioners of magic takes on him on a different type of tour. Timothy visits the past, the present, and the future and also the fairylands.

This graphic novel takes an interesting look at the history of magic (both in general and in the DC universe), the future of magic, and realms of magic. Each magic practitioner takes Tim on a different journey and each journey emcompasses one of four “books of magic”.

We meet a wide variety of magical characters throughout this story from more classical magical characters (Baba Yaga, Titania) to a number of magical characters that pepper DC comic history (including Gaiman’s own Endless).

The books of magic get more abstract as they continue, with the final book (the one looking at the future of magic) being the most abstract. The illustration throughout follows this trend. Each book has a very distinctive artistic style. Charles Vess (my favoorite illustrator of the bunch) illustrates the fairy land journey and this was a perfect match for his style. The final book which journeys into the future had a very abstract style that was my least favorite of the bunch, but still matched the story very well.

I will be honest in saying that a lot of the DC comic references were lost on me since I haven’t read a ton in this universe. I still really enjoyed the story of Timothy exploring all these different avenues of magic and learning about them. The story is written in a way that even comic ignorant people like me will really enjoy it.

There is a fun twist at the end of the novel as well that had me chuckling. I love how the whole thing was wrapped up.

Overall I really really enjoyed this graphic novel. It was well written and provided a good story about the dangers of power and magic. It should be appropriate for YA and older. I also enjoyed all the wonderfully different illustration styles as well. Highly recommended to fans of fantasy graphic novels and to fans of the magical side of the DC universe.

This book goes towards the following reading challenges:
- Graphic Novel Reading Challenge
- 150+ Reading Challenge
- TBR Pile Reading Challenge

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