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Beautiful Darknessby Fabien Vehlmann
A must-read for fans of Lord of the Flies. Juxtaposing images of innocent-seeming fairies with acts of heart-wrenching brutality, this graphic novel exposes the bleak nature of humanity. A devastating and illuminating examination of morality and society.
Synopses & Reviews
A dark fairy tale about surviving the human experience
Aurora's having a tea party with Hector, the prince she's been dreaming about, when a sudden deluge forces them to take shelter elsewhere. They emerge from the skull of a dead girl into the woods at night and find themselves among a crowd of tiny people, all of whom are milling about. Aurora quickly takes charge of the situation, and at first things seem to be going well for most of her friends. Despite a few injuries and deaths and a lot of hunger, they forage successfully and befriend a mouse that lives in the neighborhood. But as time goes by, more and more of the little people begin to lose hope, turning against one another in brutal ways.
Beautiful Darkness is a harrowing look at the human psyche and the darkness that hides behind the routine politeness and meaningless kindness of civilized society. The sweet faces and bright leaves of Kerascoët's joyful watercolors only serve to highlight the evil that dwells beneath, as characters allow their pettiness, greed, and jealousy to take over. Beautiful Darkness presents a bleak allegory on the human condition; Kerascoëts and Fabien Vehlmann's work is a searing condemnation of our vast capacity for evil writ tiny.
"A whimsical tea-party in bright pastels turns bitter in the first pages of this macabre graphic novel for grownups. Pretty, cheery faerie Aurora and her band of tiny companions crawl out of a young girl's corpse in the woods and quickly find themselves in a strange new world, starving as well as besieged and brutalized by insects, birds, and mice. Some of her companions are clueless, others are cruel, and their arboreal paradise quickly becomes a Lord of the Flies — style horror. Kerascoët's lush illustrations of the tiny little fantasy people are highlighted against realistic natural scenes of the wood's rich flora and fauna. This blend of imaginative characters in the physical world inspires gasps and shudders when nature overcomes them: the little people are savaged and preyed on not only by the animals but also by each other. A midbook full-page illustration of nature engulfing the long-dead girl in the woods is both heartbreaking and shocking. Aurora's attempts to manage this society of self-obsessed little persons drive her into a brutal, feral state — her horrific retaliation against nature pushes her away from her fellow faeries, even when they invade her new safe place. This unforgettable graphic novel hovers on the edge of your daydreams and nightmares." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
“A twisted tale that draws from the likes of Alice in Wonderland and The Borrowers, only Beautiful Darkness presents a much bleaker allegory about brutality. As the tiny people lose hope, their underlying pettiness, greed and jealousy become evident despite their polite words and pretty faces.” Los Angeles Times Hero Complex
"You've seen countless stories about cute little creatures living secretly in our world, but you've never read one like Beautiful Darkness. It's a world that's as adorable as it is cruel, where life is beautiful but also cheap, and where death is omnipresent.” io9
“Set against the saccharine sweet storybook aesthetic of Kerascoët's rapturous watercolors, Vehlmann's narrative is a sinister saga that you wont be able to put down.” Nerdist
"The watercolor artwork here is painfully beautiful, and the book is...best read on three separate sittings — one day for each season — to take in rise and wane and grudges of the miniature empires.” Buzzfeed
"It's The Borrowers meets Lord of the Flies.” Comic Book Resources
"A fairytale where the darkness is only natural: the real world of Beautiful Darkness not only includes but embraces decay, calm indifference, and animals who act like animals, just like life — and death. And neither its prince or princess are quite what we expect. Read it outdoors for maximum effect." Kathe Koja, author of The Cipher and Under the Poppy
"A brilliant premise executed with panache — Vehlmann and Kerascoët's fairy world has the offhand cruelty of the Alice books and the offhand sweetness of Moominland — Donahey's Teeny Weenies and The Borrowers can be felt here too — and yet it really it seems without precedent, every page a surprise in style and form and content." John Crowley, author of Little, Big and Aegypt
Kerascoëts and Fabien Vehlmann's unsettling and gorgeous anti-fairy tale is a searing condemnation of our vast capacity for evil writ tiny. Join princess Aurora and her friends as they journey to civilization's heart of darkness in a bleak allegory about surviving the human experience. The sweet faces and bright leaves of Kerascoët's delicate watercolors serve to highlight the evil that dwells beneath Vehlmann's story as pettiness, greed, and jealousy take over. Beautiful Darkness is a harrowing look behind the routine politeness and meaningless kindness of civilized society.
About the Author
Fabien Vehlmann is a French comics writer who has been nominated for the Angoulême International Comics Festival Award a number of times. He is best known to North American audiences for his collaboration with the Norwegian cartoonist Jason on Isle of 100,000 Graves.
Kerascoët is a husband-and-wife cartooning team best known for illustrating the book Miss Don't Touch Me written by Hubert, as well as a couple of the Lewis Trondheim Dungeon books.
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