Pan’s Labyrinth by Guillermo del Toro and Cornelia Funke (Book Review)

Publisher: Bloomsbury
Page Count
: 320

It seems that I am making a habit of not reading book-to-movie adaptations, but rather the other way round, where books were specifically written AFTER their other-media-format successor became popular. Admittedly, it has been a long time since I watched the Pan’s Labyrinth movie, but to me, it makes sense to want to expand on the story a little bit.

To start with, let’s show you the trailer and then I will also talk about the plot a little bit. Usually, I don’t add my own summary in my review, because mostly Goodreads takes care of that and then I just use it in my graphic, but this time I found it too ambiguous. So, here is the trailer for the movie for starters (from a time when trailers still had overly dramatic voice-overs):

As stated in the brief summary above, the book follows the tale of the film, which is about a young girl by the name of Ofelia, whose mother remarried a cruel officer after the father died during the war. They move to a cold and cursed abandoned mill in the Spanish mountains, where rebels are trying to fight for their cause. Things get truly interesting when Ofelia, a girl who is mainly interested in books and still grieving her father, finds a fairy that leads her on dangerous adventures with the promise of becoming the Princess of the Underground world. This truly follows the film quite faithfully, sometimes word for word in terms of dialogue, but it also adds immensely to the world building by including short stories about objects and past events that happened at the very place the people are now.

Ofelia didn’t remind her mother that for her, there was nothing better than a book. Her mother wouldn’t understand. She didn’t make books her shelter or allow them to take her to another world. She could only see this world, and then, Ofelia thought, only sometimes. It was part of her mother’s sadness to be earthbound. Books could have told her so much about this world and about places far away, about animals and plants, about the stars! They could be the windows and doors, paper wings to help her fly away. Maybe her mother had just forgotten how to fly. Ir maybe she’d never learned.

Ofelia’s mother didn’t know it, but she also believed in a fairy tale. Carmen Cardoso believed the most dangerous tale of all: the one of the prince who would save her.

When I was younger, I gobbled up Cornelia Funke’s books like they were magic itself and could take me to foreign places. The Inkworld trilogy and the Thief Lord are still among my all time favourite books, however, I had never read her stories in English before. So, I don’t know how much of it all was Guillermo del Toro and how much of it was her. Either way, they managed to recreate the darkness and fantastic visuals from the movie with simple language and added background story and thoughts.

He abruptly dropped his hand, summoning the mask of confidence that had become his second face, merciless, determined. Death is a lover to be feared and there was only one way to overcome that fear – by being her executioner.

Death sighed. She was used to men begging for another few years or months, sometimes even hours. There was always something unfinished, something undone, unlived. Mortals don’t understand life is not a book you close only after you read the last page. There is no last page in the Book of Life, for thelast one is always the first page of another story.

One thing I am not sure about is the claim that this book is made for readers of all ages. The first chapter/the prologue is literally about a young girl dying by stepping into the world and forgetting who she was before. As I’ve also mentioned a couple times now, it’s quite a dark story and the happy end is debatable (as is tradition with old folklore, if you ask me). So, I could see a child who is dealing with matters such as death and grief themselves to maybe find solace in this book, but I wouldn’t give it to someone who was never exposed to it or gets easily frightened. Just like I definitely wouldn’t show the movie to a kid.

A groan echoed through the floor, the moaning of a hungry bloodstained mouth, and when she stepped back, she felt the Pale Man pushing against the floorboards. The worst fears are always underneath us, hidden, shaking the ground we wish to be firm and safe.

Fazit: 4/5 stars! I really enjoyed this, although I am not sure if it will stay with me forever.

Have you read Pan’s Labyrinth? Have you watched the movie? Let’s chat!

What I’ve Been Binge-Watching #11

I promise the trailer post will come right after this, but I just don’t like it when there is nothing in between the weekly Sunday trailers. Since I did watch a couple things though, I thought I’d just throw in a little binge-watching one in the meantime.

Special

If you want something nice and quick to watch about and from a gay man with cerebral palsy, this is the show for you. Netflix has started to put out content with only about 15-ish minute episodes, so you will certainly fly through this program. Personally, I thought it could have handled a bit more depth and length overall, but if this was just the appetizer for what’s to come in (hopefully) future episodes and seasons, I am here for it! It all gives you more of a web-series vibe, which is totally fine by me and most of the time those shows have a higher output rate than regular TV shows.

No Good Nick

No Good Nick basically screams Nickelodeon or Disney Channel at me in the way that it tries to tackle hard topics for a younger audience, but doesn’t quite succeed to get it across in a serious manner because they still try to be wholesome at the same time. All in all, there is nothing per se wrong with that, but it is something you have to be prepared for when you start watching No Good Nick.

My favourite part of the show was seeing all the different family dynamics, but mostly Jeremy and Nick being suspicious of each other and trying to outsmart one another. Especially the last couple episodes really manifested my like for their dynamic and I am curious which way it would go should that show continue for a longer time.

BONDiNG

Who would have thought that I would really like a show about a guy who helps out at his best friend’s work, which is that of a dominatrix? Actually, never mind, I have watched way weirder stuff! Just like Special, this show has super short episodes and you can fly through it and despite the seemingly sex-heavy topic, it is really just a beautiful story about friendship. That’s probably the reason I enjoyed it so much, because who doesn’t like a good friendship-story? Also, it’s funny. We all need to laugh every now and then.

Dark

I finally watched it and don’t you dare judge me!! I watch so many shows and movies all the time, I am allowed to be behind on some things. However, the new season is releasing (somewhat) soon and I just wanted to get caught up on the hype. I really loved it! Knowing a ton of the faces in it and seeing this as a German production specifically for Netflix really made my heart sing. I honestly just want more content like it. 

I don’t necessarily agree with it being the German Stranger Things, because the show being strange doesn’t really suffice as a parallel for me. Dark really manages to be what the title promises – really dark. However, it is also complex and intriguing and sometimes even scary (and I usually don’t do scary=). I adore it when shows are still able to surprise me as they go along and Dark definitely managed that. Anyway, great acting, great confusing storytelling and the certainty of another season around the corner. What more could you ask for? Although, one of the best parts was the music for sure. Just needed to add that too.

Lastly, if you want to see the guy who plays Jonas in Dark in a fantastic German movie, then go watch “Die Mitte der Welt”/”Center of My World” movie. (Click here for the trailer)


Have you watched some of these shows? What are your thoughts? Are you as excited for season 2 of Dark as me? Let’s chat!

The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco (eArc Review)

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Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Page Count
: 430
Publishing Date: March 7, 2017

**I was provided with an eArc from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review!**

When I first heard about this book, I immediately wanted to read it! The main protagonist is called Tea (which is written like tea but not pronounced like it, even though I can’t help but think of the tea you drink anyway. I love tea.) and she’s a dark witch. What more could I possibly want? Well, something more apparently … because while I wouldn’t necessarily call The Bone Witch disappointing, it was not all I hoped it would be.

The story is told in two different time streams. One follows Tea from the tender age of 12 to her rise as an asha (=bone witch) and another one from when she is 17 years old and has been exiled from the community. For me it was difficult to follow the latter, because she reminisces about her past (which gets backed up by the other timeline), but also talks about revenge plans that I couldn’t comprehend as a reader because I have no idea what happened and we don’t find out in this book. It is obvious that this is a series (I don’t know how many parts, but it will definitely have one sequel), but it seemed like a prequel/origin story for something you have no idea about.

The world of The Bone Witch is an extensive one, where maps and explanations of countries and such are direly needed. They are provided in the front and back of the book, but I still felt lost when it came to the cultural aspects and geographical locations of kingdoms. Chupeco likes to go into detail when it comes to description, but the characters didn’t explain so much as just talk about the things that are a regular part of their lives. So, to me, it felt like reading a foreign language, which made it impossible to follow all the political aspects and such, which I simply ignored at one point or another.

I think one of the things that I struggled with a bit was the lifestyle of the asha. You have to know, they are among the most powerful people, either being able to manipulate elements or raise corpses and control minds. They start their apprenticeship around the age of 13 and it takes several years until their official debut. Their lessons include things such as history and politics as well as combat training, which I think is cool. However, a big part of their education is singing, dancing, playing instruments and learning how to entertain guests. The value of an asha is measured by how often they are booked to meet guests and how much they are willing to pay – the more popular, the better for their house. So, they literally get rented out. It just felt like they were some sort of magical combo between escorts and geisha. I do understand that there is a political aspect to this and a lot of tradition and honor involved, but I DON’T get why that’s necessary. They should not have to entertain anyone and make sure they are liked unless they want to, because as I said, they are among the most powerful people there are. At some point they did try to break down gender stereotypes, with only women being asha and men being Deathseekers (soldiers trained to battle evil creatures), but not very successfully so.

Finally, there was a supposed twist about the love interest in the end, which I didn’t find to be a surprise at all. While I might not always guess the bad guy correctly, you cannot fool me in the romance department. I know most of what I said didn’t sound very positive, but it was an interesting story. I just don’t think that it resonated with me as much as I hoped for. I would still be willing to pick up a sequel and if it were only to figure out what’s really going on.

Fazit: 3/5 stars! My lack of understanding of the world and the detailed description made it difficult for me to truly connect.

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Did you hear about The Bone Witch? Would you like to read it?

Twisted

After ImagePretty Little Liars and The Lying Game getting darker with every season, the American network abc family decided to produce yet another quite dark show. Twisted is about a teenager called Danny (played by Avan Jogia –  whom you might know from Victorious) who killed his aunt when he was 11 years old and now returns to his former hometown, after he has served his time. Obviously, people don’t really want him there, but somehow he manages to reconnect with his previous best friends (You have to know, he really is quite the charmer and funny as well). As if that wasn’t enough trouble already, a fellow student gets killed during the first night Danny is back in town, making him the prime suspect. After that Jo (played by Maddie Hasson) and Lacey (portrayed by Kylie Bunbury) seem to be the only one’s who give him the benefit of the doubt.

I don’t know where exactly the show is going, and if it will turn into another Pretty Little Liars; an endless torture of a few people without ever finding out who the mysterious killer really is. I mean there is only so much time you can spend on one murder case. It is definitely an intriguing show and worth checking out, but I can’t really see for how long they are going to be able to follow their main theme.