[Book Review] Peter & Max: A Fables Tale by Bill Willingham



This is an old review*, though I still feel the same about it now as I did then. As always, I add my current thoughts on the title at the end of this review, so you should still check it out! 🙂

*This book was also used in a booktalk for class.

Peter & Max: A Fables Tale by Bill Willingham • 2009 • Vertigo • 400  pages

“Unmissable, especially for lovers of fairytale revampings and extrapolations.”

– Booklist

“Dark, fast-paced, moving and entertaining, with a few surprises along the way.”

– Publishers Weekly

Genre/Theme: Contemporary Fantasy, Fantasy, Young Adult/Adult Fiction, Graphic Novel, Fairytales Retold, Fables, War, Diaspora, Family, Sibling Rivalry, Music, Revenge, Fairy tale creatures

Brief Summary: “Set in the imaginative realm of the award-winning comic book series FABLES, the book takes place long ago, in the deepest dark of The Black Forest. Two brothers — Peter Piper and his older brother Max — encounter ominous forces that change them both irreparably. Thus begins an epic tale of sibling rivalry, magic, music and revenge that spans medieval times to the present day, when their deadly conflict surfaces in the placid calm of modern day Fabletown.” – taken from Amazon

Evaluation: 5 of 5 stars

1-2 things you liked:

  • The interior design.
  • Illustrations throughout the book
  • Style of writing
  • The characters

1-2 things you didn’t like:

  • That it didn’t belong to me and thus I had to return it to the library (lol!) No seriously. There wasn’t anything I didn’t like in this book. It was awesome.

Would you recommend this book?: Oh yeah! XD And if you’re asking, WHO I’d rec it to…? Well, this would be a good read for reluctant readers, avid readers, comic book readers, fantasy readers, and those who love fairytale retellings and anything DC Comics/Vertigo. Also, anyone who enjoys illustrations in their books.

Looking Back (Current Thoughts & Eval): Building upon the likes and dislikes of then, I’d have to say, the interior design really stuck me even after all this time and floored me too! (Because I’m always looking for stellar book designs and layouts) See for yourself:


I wasn’t expecting that when I originally picked up this novel. Although some might think it childish or at least not “adult material” to have illustrations — either scenic or otherwise — throughout a book… I quite disagree! I can’t imagine WHY, in heaven’s name, people would think that! The illustrations were very influential to the storytelling, grabbing and holding  my attention throughout as I read. They weren’t just arbitrarily placed. These images had meaning and significance and implicitly enhanced the whole reading experience. Like the illustrations of illuminated manuscripts & books, there was so much more to these images, which easily engaged the reader with the story (not to mention delighting the eye along the way). I think I might have lost interest at some points without those images there to grab my attention again and pull me back into the story. So super well down there. 😉

The style of writing  was phenomenal to me, because of how smart it was story-wise. You can accomplish a lot, telling two stories at once. Past and present. Keeping the reader captivated through the use of utterly gorgeous illustrations, the smart and witty commentary throughout the book, and the cohesion of everything else.  I absolutely loved that the storytelling moved us between time periods — back and forth between their world Hesse, and our own mundane one. In a weird way, thinking back on it now, this Fables novel was written much like how the show Once Upon A Time is crafted and filmed, with this alternating narrative between past and present. It’s likely the idea was to mimic either/or.

As for the characters. Okay! Confession! This was my very FIRST Fables novel and/or graphic novel. *nods solemnly* I know, I know. The horror. XD But it was still a good choice as it got me into the series! (That’s right! You heard right. SERIES.) For those of you who don’t know, the Fables series is not only in novel format. In fact, it is actually a comic book/graphic novel series, and the story is quite long. It’s nowhere near the length of some of our more iconic Marvel or DC Comic stories like Batman, Thor, etc… But it does have at least… 140-…something, issues, already? (Which is around 20+ books, I believe.) And several spin-offs, including this one, in novel form. Because of this… there are A LOT OF CHARACTERS. And I honestly, love em all. XD (There’s a couple that I want to strangle, but…) In this book, we got to follow along with the Piper brothers (Peter Piper and Max Piper) and see all the shenanigans, betrayal, and heartache that ensued. Speaking objectively here, I think if I didn’t like the characters (and illustrations) as much as I do, this book — in terms of actual writing — might have been a bit flat for me.

So thank the universe everything fell into place.

As for the single dislike… well… I solved that problem not long after returning the book to the library. Hur hur~