Tuesday, August 5, 2014

The Truth Is a Cave in the Black Mountains by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Eddie Campbell

Eddie Campbell's art (detail)
The storytelling genius of Neil Gaiman continues with The Truth Is a Cave in the Black Mountains: A Tale of Travel and Darkness. Gaiman says about this book: "It's not pure prose, not a graphic novel. It's a story with pictures unlike anything else I've written."

The illustrations by Eddie Campbell are comprised of paintings, comics and collage. Campbell's moody dark palette and visible thick brush strokes in the paintings are reminiscent of Van Gogh's 'The Potato Eaters.' The ink lines that create the comics are extremely loose, providing a buoyant contrast.

Eddie Campbell's art (detail)
Eddie Campbell's art
(photo collage detail)
The story has the feel of a traditional yarn and is set in an alternate Jacobite Scotland. It's told by a cattle thief searching for the truth about his missing daughter. He is a little man - a dwarf - accustomed to being mocked for his stature, who employs a guide to take him to a magical place on an island wrapped in fog.
Eddie Campbell's art in opening double page spread. "You ask me if I can forgive myself?"
This is a dark tale, as the subtitle forewarns, and it is in the adult collection at Edmonton Public Library. It is suitable, however, for readers in elementary school and older, except the most sensitive young readers. There's nothing more gruesome or scary than can be found in Jeff Smith's Bone series, or The Hobbit, or a production of MacBeth.

Readalikes: Mouse Bird Snake Wolf  (David Almond & Dave McKean); The Lady of Shalott (Alfred Lord Tennyson & Genevieve Cote, Kids Can Press edition); Mysterious Traveler (Mal Peet, Elspeth Graham & P.J. Lynch); Raven Girl (Audrey Niffenegger); Red: A Haida Manga (Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas); The Cats of Tanglewood Forest (Charles De Lint & Charles Vess).

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