Fairytales take on a new meaning in "Peter and Max" a stand-alone novel spin-off from the comic book series, "Fables," written by the series' creator Bill Willingham and features illustrations by Steve Leialoha.
In the world of Fables, Fairytale creatures are real and living among us in a secret section of New York City. Having fled their worlds to ours when a mysterious Adversary attacked and took over their Homelands, the Fables, both good and bad, live in a relatively peaceful existence together now, past misdeeds forgotten.
Peter Piper is called away from his home when his frightening older brother, Max, shows up. Peter is given one week to track his brother down - before anyone else does.
From there the story takes alternating points of view, from the past of Peter and Max's childhood and what happens to tear them apart, and the present as Peter tracks down Max. The reader finds out that Peter inherited a magical flute from his father that angered Max at the same time that the Adversary began his attacks on their world, and those two things somehow completely destroyed Max's mind. From there, it is a deadly path, with Peter becoming a thief and Max getting some notoriety as the Pied Piper as his descent into darkness continues. As the showdown builds into the final scene between the two brothers and tension runs high, what happens next just might surprise the reader. It's a hard to put down dark and twisted tale of fantasy and revenge, of a family torn apart and how far someone will go for power.
For fans of the series, this is another great new story that combines old and new characters together for another look into the intelligent world that Willingham has created. For new readers, everything is explained enough to follow, but not too much is given away to prevent going back and getting the graphic novels and enjoying them.
"Peter and Max" is published by Vertigo, a division of DC Comics. It is $22.99 and is 368 pages long. It will be out October 7 at comic book stores and October 13 in bookstores.
New York Times bestselling author John Saul gives a tale of psychological horror in "House of Reckoning."
Sarah Crane is a young teen in the wake of tragedy. Her mother's death from cancer rattled her father so much he began drinking and his drinking lead to a barroom fight turned murder and a subsquent accident with her which leads to jail time for him and foster care for Sarah.
Sarah's only friends are a troubled boy named Nick, who hears voices and has hallucinations and the school's art teacher, Bettina Phillips, whom the town reviles as a "witch."
Sarah and Nick soon learn that the have a strange connection - Sarah begins to make strange drawings that seem to be based on Nick's hallucinations. And then the hallucinations become visions of the future. Sarah and Nick struggle to figure out the connection, not only between themselves but also to Bettina's house.
A good, classic "haunted house" story with a twist, this is a great read in time for Halloween that is heavy on the tension, but not on the gore. It is cerebral horror and makes me want to go back and read more of Saul's books.
"House of Reckoning" is published by Ballentine. It is $26 and 304 pages long. It comes out October 13 at bookstores.
It's a dark version of "The Little Mermaid" in Jim C. Hines' "The Mermaid's Madness." Hines' three princesses are back - Cinderella, Snow White and Sleeping Beauty, also known as Danielle, Snow and Talia. But their lives aren't happily ever after fairy tales - these girls kick butt and are more like "Charlie's Angels" than a Disney movie.
This time, the three princesses are traveling with their friend and Danielle's mother-in-law, Queen Beatrice. When Queen Bea is attacked by a mermaid and is left for dead. It turns out the mermaid has gone insane and attacked the queen - in a way that has ripped her spirit from her body. While the three princesses attempt to figure out what has been done to Queen Bea and how to stop it, they find a twisted web of magic and danger and a situation that could tear two kingdoms apart.
The best part of Hines' series is the new take on the princesses - they are the ones sweeping into the frey to save the day, sometimes rescuing men in distress and aren't content to sit around on the sidelines.
"The Mermaid's Madness" is published by Daw. It is $7.99 and 339 pages long.