I'm slowly working my way through the Fables graphic novel series, which focuses on the lives of a group of fairy-tale creatures living undercover in New York. Forced from their homelands by a mysterious foe caused the Adversary, they are doing their best to blend into our world and not alert the 'Mundies' to their presence. Volume three, Storybook Love, contains four distinct stories, two of which are proper 'episodes' in the series and two shorter, unrelated tales to start and finish the collection. All the stories are loosely tied together around the theme of love.
This review may contain spoilers from the series so far.
I'm having mixed feelings about the Fables series. I love the premise of it and certainly like it enough to keep on reading through the volumes, but I'm not loving it in the way I hoped I would. It's just a bit hit and miss. In this volume, the two shorter stories, Bag O' Bones and Barleycorn Brides, were a miss for me. They were short, poorly illustrated compared to the rest of the book and felt like filler. To be fair, Bag O' Bones, in which Jack uses the American civil war as an opportunity to cheat death and have his way with a Southern belle, at least had an interesting plot and would have been good if the drawings were a bit better. Barleycorn Brides though just had no plot and the worst drawings I've seen in the series yet. It should not have been included at all.
Thankfully, I enjoyed the two longer stories. In the first, an intrepid reporter notices something suspicious about the citizens of Fabletown and comes up with the conclusion that they are vampires. Bigby and Bluebeard try to deal with this in very different ways. And in the second, Bluebeard and Goldilocks plot revenge on Bigby and Snow, hunting them through the forest. We also get to see a different side of Prince Charming, as he plots to become influential in the community.
What I liked most about these two stories is that now, at volume three in the series, I'm starting to get a glimpse of the 'larger picture' and the plot-lines that might influence the series as a whole. We're no longer in world building or introducing the main characters territory so there's more room for character development and action. At the moment, I'm particularly enjoying Prince Charming's scheming and the introduction of Briar Rose/Sleeping Beauty. As ever, there are lots of clever little touches, like certain characters being harder to kill than others, as the mundies (regular people) like them more than other characters.
On the whole, Storybook Love is a solid addition to the Fables series. It's just a shame that not all the stories in the collection are of the same standard.
First Published: 2004
Score: 3.5 out of 5
My reviews of other volumes in the series: