by Bill Willingham
First sentence: “Once Upon a Time…”
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The fairy tale characters we all know and love — from Snow White and Price Charming down to Jack (of Beanstalk fame) — have been exiled from their country, driven out by “The Adversary.” They’ve been living in New York City (well, the ones who can pass for human, anyway; the rest are exiled to a farm in upstate New York) for centuries, trying to be happy with their living.
In the first of two books in this deluxe edition, “Legends in Exile,” it seems Rose Red (Snow White’s sister, if you didn’t remember) has been murdered. Her boyfriend, Jack, finds the scene and races to tell Bigby Wolf (the Big Bad Wolf, of course, who turns out to be a bit of a shapeshifter), who takes on the investigation. Snow gets involved, not only because Rose is her sister, but because she’s the mayor’s (King Cole) deputy, and as a result, really runs the community.
It’s an intriguing premise, this. It’s a halfway decent murder mystery (I didn’t figure it out; I wasn’t paying enough attention to the details), and what Willingham (and his team) have done with the characters is interesting. But what I really liked was the world-building here. There’s a lot of conflict just within the community, and the fact that they’re in hiding just intensifies those conflicts. It was fascinating. But what I really liked was the second book, “Animal Farm.”
In that, we get to see the non-human characters (the three pigs, the three bears, some dragons and other assorted woodland creatures). They’re sick of being forced into their farm prison for the sake of the community’s security, and want to not only overrun Snow and their government, but want to go back and take their homeland back from The Adversary. The revolution is run by Goldilocks, who is quite ruthless in her vision and execution. It’s fun, it’s fascinating, and it hooked me on the series.
Except: my library is missing all the books between this one and Arabian Nights, so I’m quite at a loss where to get the next installment. I’ll have to do some research…