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Beautiful Darkness h/c


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Beautiful Darkness h/c back

Fabien Vehlmann & Kerascoet

Price: 
15.99

Page 45 Review by Stephen

“But this isn’t how things were supposed to turn out!”

No. No, it isn’t.

This so pretty! The leaves, the leaves!

Kerascoët’s fresh, nesting spring, bug-ridden summer, gold-and-russet autumn and snow-fresh winter out in the countryside are each of them lit to perfection. The underbellies of the flowers and fronds – so much of this is seen from below – are likewise just-so and the shadows cast across glossy beetles and the crumbly earth they’re skittering across make you want to break out your own dried-up watercolours, fill a jar of water, and play.

You may have noticed there are some tiny people, few bigger than a robin red-breast, who have newly emerged from a world of their own. Led by Princess Aurora, such a sweet little girl, they begin colonising this undiscovered country, gathering scant provisions (for they have none of their own), and getting to know the wildlife. There’s a bag and a pencil case and a notebook with a name which they can use for shelter. Oh, there are ups and downs, but they’re lucky to have Princess Aurora for she is kind and practical and thinks the best of everyone. There’s so much to be done!

I’d file this under horror, if I were you.

For God’s sake don’t let it anywhere near your children.

For very quickly the innocent child play-acting of dress up and hunting turns to the very worst humanity has to offer: competitiveness, spitefulness, jealousy, deceit, callousness and cruelty – and not just towards each other. Don’t get me wrong, with Vehlmann at the helm (ISLE OF 100,000 GRAVES) there is cartoon comedy too, but that evaporates completely once it turns all Lord Of The Flies. Their behaviour is so well observed: these are children at play – with imagination, improvisation and so many rituals – they’re just not playing nice.

It’s genuinely very upsetting in places.

It works so well because Marie Pommepuy and Sébastien Cosset (AKA Kerascoët) lure you into a false sense of security with their bright colours, cute, flamboyant cartooning and the lushest of landscapes at sunset, for example. Throughout it is a joy to look at, give or take the odd munched-on maggot.

For it’s only six pages in that you realise where these darlings have emerged from; and the sudden switch to something closer to forensic photo-realism in a full-page reveal is more than a little arresting.

No, this wasn’t how things were supposed to turn out.

Not for any little girl.

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