Are you a fan of the 2006 film El laberinto del fauno? Then you’ll love this book. Not seen the film? Then there’s a good chance you’ll enjoy this book anyway.
Based on the film, this novelisation is a dark and heartbreaking fantasy set in Spain, 1944. A young girl called Ofelia arrives with her pregnant mother Carmen at a military post in an ancient forest. Ofelia’s new father, the evil Captain Vidal, is focused on only two things: hunting down the rebels and passing on his cruel vision of the world to his baby son. Ofelia is sought out by fairies, who lead her to the Faun (also known as Pan). He tells her that she’s actually a princess, Moanna, who found her way out of the Underworld a long time ago and whose spirit can return there on the completion of three tasks.
This is one of those stories where you can have your own interpretation. It can mean different things to different people, although clearly there are messages about the evils of fascism, oppression of women and how we can learn from children’s belief in magic. Although the writing style is simple, the meanings are complex. The story is unforgettable. I think it’s skilfully written and structured. The style can feel strange at first, because of the fairytale tone and yet it’s a book for adults. It’s a tragic and violent with hints of Alice in Wonderland, Narnia and the Brothers Grimm. As a book of the film, it’s perfect. As a book in its own right, it’s something very special.
The book includes illustrations by Allen Williams but I can’t comment on these, as my advance copy did not include most of them.
Thank you to the publisher Bloomsbury for the advance copy via Netgalley. This book will be published on July 2nd.