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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

What I'm Reading: Raven Girl

Last week I read the short story graphic novel by Audrey Niffenegger entitled Raven Girl. Talk about bridging the Dewey divide, this volume is the result of a joint collaboration with the  Royal Ballet of London.  Niffenegger was asked to write the story for a brand new ballet.  They requested that it be in the fairy tale mold.  This slim, illustrated volume is the result.

Although this is more of a single illustrated story, I felt that since the author is such a big name and the book will be in high demand, this was worth a short review.

The story is simply explained.  It is the tale of a girl who is half raven, half human and her coming of age. But it is how the story is told which would determine whether or not you would enjoy it.

This story is short, sweet, and beautiful in a traditional fairy tale way.  What we have a a Gothic story in words and picture. It is atmospheric and a bit macabre.  For example, the Raven Girl herself cannot speak human words, but can understand them.  She goes to human college but yearns for bird wings.

The story is original but based in tradition.  As I read it, I felt the story was familiar and I knew where it was going, but while in general theme, tone, and story arc, I was correct, the journey of getting to the end of the story was a delight, both in the originality of the plot and the execution of the drawings.

Also because it is meant to be performed as a ballet, there is a lyrical, flowing, movement to the story.  It has a gracefulness that hints at its root in the dance format.

This is a volume for fans of Niffenegger's work but not for those who only like  The Time Traveler's Wife. It is for fans of macabre and Gothic stories. There is a darkness here, but it is enveloped by hope and beauty.

Raven Girl is also a good entry point for people who are new to graphic novels.  There are pages without pictures, just text.  It is really more of an illustrated story; a picture book for adults.

I was enchanted by this tale, but recognize that it is not for everyone.  However you would only have to give up an hour or two to see for yourself. In fact, I do suggest reading this volume in one sitting.

Three Words That Describe This Book: atmospheric, fairy tale, graceful

Readalikes: The Raven Girl is just my kind of story.  As I result, I have so many ideas of books that it reminded me of.  Here is a short list of those titles with links to the reviews for details, and don't forget, each review has readalikes also, many of which could be readalikes here also.  But in general, these are all atmospheric, moody stories with a Gothic and/or fairy tale feel:

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