Rating: ***** (5 out of 5)
Background: I am a big fan of Neil Gaiman and his Sandman series. I came across the more recent, graphic novel retelling of this book first, and while it appealed to me, it was nothing compared to what I experienced when I looked at the original version. The cover is absolutely beautiful, golden and luminous without being kitschy.
Review: It all begins with a wager between a badger and a fox. In a Japanese mountainside, there was a little temple, hardly visited by anyone anymore, and in it lived a monk. The fox and the badger wanted this temple for a den, and decided that whoever got the monk to abandon it would win it. But the monk wasn’t easily deceived, and somewhere along the way, the fox falls in love with him. And so begins a tale of love, sadness and sacrifice.
I don’t know why this book had such a strong effect on me. It’s a simple but lovely story which reminded me of old fables, albeit filled with much more sadness and subtlety than usual. But I found myself being only able to read it very slowly, a few pages at a time, to let it sink in.
The illustrations played a big role. In fact, even though I love Neil Gaiman’s writing, Yoshitaka Amano’s art is what made this book truly shine (in more than one way). It’s beautiful, with an incredible use of color and monochrome, and whimsical lines.
It doesn’t matter if you’re not familiar with the Sandman storyline, as this falls outside of it, but if you are, you’ll be able to appreciate the little details much more.
I can’t recommend this enough.
What’s Next: The second volume of the Absolute Sandman series is waiting for me on the shelf.
I though I would have finished this last friday, to end my Comic Book Reading Week with a flourish, but this book ended up needing more time than I though it would to go properly through, and real life also got in the way, with little time (or mental effort) for me to dedicate to reading. Next up will be at least one book about Photography, in preparation for university next month.