Giants, Trolls, Witches, Beasts : Ten Tales from the Deep, Dark Woods

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Craig Phillips,  Giants, Trolls, Witches, Beasts : Ten Tales from the Deep, Dark Woods,  Allen & Unwin,  May 2017,  192pp.,  $24.99 (pbk),  ISBN 9781760113261

These ten traditional tales are given new vivacity for a contemporary audience by Phillips’ vivid and dynamic graphic style. A comic-book layout freshens the stories and heightens the action in narratives sourced from the mythology of various countries including Iceland, Japan, Germany and Poland.

The colours are clean and fresh; the drawing is crisp and full of movement; the language is accessible and yet retains the exotic names and place settings that invoke the traditional charm inherent in the tales. These are examples of the hero’s journey to which readers will readily relate. Is my favourite the polar bear or the peach-boy? Still to decide.

In a variety of ethnic locales, there are quests and magical interventions, villains and monsters, hardships to conquer and betrayals to overcome. Yet this is not a depressing, dark world: in this colourful book there is a mood of optimism and a sense that right will prevail. And couldn’t we all do with a bit of that?

This bright and attractive compendium of comic book entertainment will be a favourite with adventurous children, upper primary on.

Reviewed by Julie Thorndyke

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