Fables 14-18

cubs in toylandJust a quick note to say that I’m now up to date with Bill Willingham’s Fables series (or at least all of the ones they have in my library.) I had been quite apprehensive about reading these last few, because Teresa didn’t enjoy them as much after the defeat of the first Great Adversary. She found the story arcs a bit transitional and bland, and the balance of the story lines somewhat off.

I’m happy to say that I thought that while Teresa’s criticisms are absolutely valid, as always, there was also a lot to enjoy about these Fables books. I admired Mr. Dark more than Teresa did. The Dullahan is a scary Irish creature, and I liked the way Willingham and his team used him in these arcs, along with his witherlings.

inherit the windIn my last short review, I complained that I was a bit bored with the women in this series, most of whom seemed two-dimensional. (Snow White and Rose Red are exceptions to this rule.) In the recent books, we get some more fleshed-out female characters, but they’re problematic in other ways. Nurse Spratt, for instance, is presented as an interesting villain, but her treachery is rooted in the fact that she resents being fat and ugly among a population of beautiful female Fables. This makes absolutely no internal sense. There are multiple dozens of Fables that look like badgers or spoons or clocks or pigs, or that are made out of wood, or whatever. There is no Fable standard for beauty. That’s strictly a Mundy idea, something Fables would either disdain or simply not comprehend. Who thought that one out? It is linked, in my mind, to the same person who decided that Frau Totenkinder would fight Mr. Dark best in her youngest and prettiest avatar. Um. Don’t you think the version with the most experience and wisdom would be likely to win?

However, the most recent paperback I read (Cubs in Toyland, #18) was superb. Not only did it use a legend I didn’t expect, not only did it make the cubs far more interesting than they’ve been to date, but it injected a note of genuine horror into the proceedings. I was impressed, and I’m hoping this marks an upturn in the series. I’m looking forward to reading more as they appear at my library. This series has its problems (1001 Nights of Snowfall, I’m looking at you) but overall, it’s been consistently engaging and interesting, and I’m glad I’ve kept up with it.

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4 Responses to Fables 14-18

  1. Teresa says:

    The business with Totenkinder and Spratt is mostly what made me quit reading. That was the first time I got actively irritated with the series. But you’re at least the second person I’ve seen say that the Cubs in Toyland book is really good. I’ve not been particularly interested in the cubs, which is why I hadn’t been tempted, but it sounds like you weren’t interested in them either until the latest book. That does tempt me!

    • Jenny says:

      Well, up to this point the cubs were just the objects of other people’s interest, not agents of action. But in Inherit the Wind and Cubs in Toyland (particularly the latter) they become agents. Cubs in Toyland is especially good, and I’m interested to see how it continues to develop.

  2. I’m planning to pick Fables back up once I’m finished moving. I think it’s easier to forgive faults when you’re binge-reading a series, than reading it as it comes out. Good to know that the cubs become interesting! Snow White’s ones, you mean? They were by far the least interesting plotline (blah blah surprise pregnancy with mystical forces involved BLAH BLAH) to me in the Fables books I did read.

    • Jenny says:

      I really agree with you about binge-reading — Teresa’s earlier point about the balance of the plot lines didn’t really bother me, because I read five trade paperbacks at once! And yes, Snow White’s cubs stay sort of annoying while they are little, but in these last two books they develop personality and get interesting. I thought Cubs in Toyland was great.

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