The (Not So) Good Neighbors of Holly Black and Ted Naifeh   Leave a comment

There is so much good stuff published for Young Adults these days.  There was really nothing like it back in the day when I was a teenager.  In those days I searched libraries and bookstores for any kind of ancient fantasy that the world had forgotten, because there wasn’t anything new for readers like me. I sure wish I was a Young Adult instead of a Young-at-Heart Adult.  Kids have no idea how great things are for them right now.

 

 

The Good Neighbors written by Holly Black and illustrated by Ted Naifeh. Graphix, c.2008.  2 v.  117 p. 115 p. all illlus.

 I suppose the lesson is that there is no happy ever after. Sometimes there is happy now, and sometimes you don’t even get that much.

 Once there was a man named Thaddeus Silver who won a fairy princess for his wife. He brought her back to the human world, and she gave him a daughter that they named Rue. Thaddeus got older, but his fairy wife didn’t. Thaddeus found himself needing human love. He cheated on his wife, and by doing so, lost her. (Well, that’s what usually happens when people cheat in a relationship—they lose the one they cheated on.)

 But families and relationships don’t end that simply. And there is nothing simple about Rue’s family on her mother’s side. It is ruled by a tall, demonic fellow named Aubrey (I’m sure the resemblance to Aubrey Beardsley, Victorian illustrator of the weird, is no accident.) Aubrey has a plan to conquer a human city and swamp it in the world of Faery. That plan requires some sacrifices.

 And some of those sacrifices are Rue’s best human friends.

 Since this is a fairy tale, I’m not surprised to see that Ms. Black has worked the tale of Thomas the Rhymer into it.  The Tam character is about the most sympathetic in the book, and turns out to be Rue’s best friend. It takes her a long time to realize that. (I am making an unjustified assumption here–an assumption that you, the reader of this blog, are moderately familiar with fairy tales, including the classic Tam Lin, or the old english poem about Thomas the Rhymer. Obviously both Holly Black and Ted Naifeh know these sources. If you don’t know these tales, do some research. I have given you enough clues in this review, but I’m not going to retell those stories here.)

 The Good Neighbors is a graphic novel. Ted Naifeh’s art is brilliant, dark, and emotional in nature. There is a visual treat on every page. If this were simply a novel, it would probably be an 800 page monstrosity, but since it is a comic, so much of the strangeness is telescoped into the art. The author doesn’t have to describe how someone feels when the reader can see it for herself. 

The Faery lore exhibited in this book is first rate. Anyone who reads it can learn a lot about the world of the Unseen. The infinite variety of the Elfin host really pops out of the pages at the reader. 

Highly recommended to everyone who enjoys urban fantasy.

 –Ken St. Andre

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Posted April 18, 2010 by atroll in Uncategorized

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