Review of Pan’s Labyrinth by Guillermo Del Toro and Cornelia Funke

Oscar winning writer-director Guillermo del Toro and New York Times bestselling author Cornelia Funke come together to transform del Toro’s hit movie Pan’s Labyrinth into an epic and dark fantasy novel for readers of all ages, complete with gorgeous and haunting illustrations.
This book is not for the faint of heart or weak in spirit. It’s not for skeptics who don’t believe in fairy tales and the powerful forces of good. It’s only for brave and intrepid souls like you, who will stare down evil in all its forms.
Inspired by the critically acclaimed film written and directed by Oscar winner Guillermo del Toro and reimagined by New York Times bestselling author Cornelia Funke, this haunting tale takes readers to a darkly magical and war-torn world filled with richly drawn characters like trickster fauns, murderous men, child-eating monsters, courageous rebels, and a long-lost princess hoping to be reunited with her family.
Perfect for fans of the movie and readers who are new to del Toro’s visionary work, this atmospheric and absorbing novel is a portal to another universe where there is no wall between the real and the imagined. A daring, unforgettable collaboration between two brilliant storytellers.

Firstly a big thank you to Netgalley and Bloomsbury for sending me a review copy of this book! If you’re familiar with the film you’ll be pleased to know that all the gorgeous imagery is there in all it’s glory. If you’re not familiar with it then I have to say that I think that you will get more out of this book for it.

This is a hard review to write as I’m trying to pull the story apart from the film and even the blurb from the publisher struggles with the same. I would strongly disagree though that this is a book that’s perfect for readers of all ages, there is some graphic violence repeated throughout the story and the fairy tales are dark, with the original Grimm philosophy that they are in fact cautionary tales over HEA, I wouldn’t be happy with my middle grade reader picking this up. The world war 2 back drop is of course bleak but Ofelia’s innocence and imagination brings much needed colour. I enjoyed the parallel’s between the evil of her step father, Vidal, and the dubious intent of the Fawn which translated clearly and in a way the film never did, and the nuance of many of the characters was pulled forward in a way that the film never did, so kudos on that as I felt a much greater connection with them.

What I liked was that parts of the film were given contextual back story, by way of fairy tales which tied up the narrative in a neat little bow. I really loved how these parts flowed and fitted with the screenplay as much of this was left to exposition in the film, so this was a lovely (and beautifully illustrated) addition to take it out of the realms of a simple script conversion. Whilst Pan’s Labyrinth came out a while ago now, it is still fresh in my mind because of how startling it is, so in my my view it was a brave move to make this the carbon copy that it is. When it became clear it was just the screenplay prettied up into a book, it did take a little of the spark away from my excitement as I knew what was coming in detail, however that didn’t detract from the feelings or emotions gathered through the iconic scenes, like the Pale Man Banquet.

It’s that visualisation that pulled it back for me, although not translating well on the page the knowledge I had helped  bring the pages to life. The story is a short one, I read it in an evening, and I think had the author had the trust to step away from the script to bring greater depth and backstory to the characters, just a few more chapters of imagination it would be a much higher rating from me. In short I felt like it was a bit of a missed opportunity to do something really magical within the well loved world, it has however made me want to watch the film again!

3*

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s