Sunday, February 16, 2020

Review - Bluebeard

by Metaphrog
Date: 2020
Publisher: Papercutz
Reading level: C
Book type: graphic novel
Pages: 176
Format: e-book
Source: NetGalley

Award-winning duo, Metaphrog, transform the classic folktale into a feminist fairy tale, about the blossoming of a young child to womanhood striving for independence. Eve spends an idyllic childhood of long summer days with her sweetheart Tom, and together they dream of exploring the world. But that dream is soon shattered as she comes of age. The mysterious Bluebeard is looking for a new bride and has his sights set on Eve, and rumor has it that his former wives have all disappeared. What will Eve find in the castle beyond the enchanted forest? A forbidden chamber, a golden key and the most terrifying secret, take on a new life in this gothic graphic novel.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

This is a pretty decent fairy-tale retelling in a graphic novel format. Despite the fact that it takes on a fairly gruesome story, the illustrations keep the whole thing pretty tame, rendering it suitable for older kids as well as teens and adults.

Eve has lived her whole life in the shadow of Bluebeard's castle. When she turns eighteen, her father basically sells her to Bluebeard (nice) and she ends up married to a travelling salesman (I'm guessing) who's never home. Bluebeard gives his wife the house's keys, a tiny gold one included. This, of course, opens the door at the end of the gallery. And, of course, she's not supposed to open it. And, of course, she does. When Bluebeard finds out that Eve's discovered his secret, he gets nasty, necessitating a bit of self-defence.

I'm not exactly sure why this is called a "feminist fairy tale", other than the fact that Eve and her sister end up pushing the villain off a balcony. Having the main character sold off by her father doesn't seem very feminist to me.

The writing is mediocre, but since this is a graphic novel, the illustrations play a large role. I kind of liked them. They have a really unique look, and an interesting colour palette. The shapes that are used throughout clearly convey the goodness (or evilness) of the various characters. As I mentioned before, nothing gets too gory. Blood is suggested with judicious use of colour rather than actual gore. (I'm still wondering about that poor zombie who fell off the cliff, though. It was shown, but then never mentioned!)

This book will probably appeal to fans of fairy-tale retellings, especially if they also enjoy graphic novels. Those who are looking for a particularly feminist book, however, may want to look elsewhere.

Thank you to NetGalley and Papercutz for providing a digital ARC.

Plot: 3/5
Characters: 2/5
Pace: 3/5
Writing & Editing: 2/5
Illustration: 3/5
Originality: 3/5

Enjoyment: 3/5

Overall: 2.75 out of 5 ladybugs

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