3 Stars Reviews

Book Review: Pan’s Labyrinth by Guillermo Del Toro and Cornelia Funke

Inspired by the film of the same name, Guillermo del Toro and Cornelia Funke brings this nightmarish fairytale to book form. In Spain during the summer of 1944, the aftermath of the civil war plays out in the forests, in between the trees and under the cover of darkness. Republican rebels hide out in the woods, hunted by the capitán and his soldiers who make an old mill their base. Ofelia and her mother, who is heavily pregnant and very weak, arrive at the mill to be reunited with Captain Vidal, Ofelia’s new stepfather. Most do not take notice of her, the cruel capitán is irritated by her presence, but under the ground, creatures are stirring – they sense the return of the long-lost Princess Moanna. Ofelia discovers an overgrown labyrinth and meets the Fawn, who sets her three tasks to prove she is the missing Princess. Ofelia’s love of fairytales guides her, but things soon become far more sinister than they ever did in her storybooks.

It’s always just a few who know where to look and how to listen, that is true.
But for the best stories, a few are just enough.

I absolutely adore the film of Pan’s Labyrinth. I think it was one of the first films I really watched in a foreign language and it opened my eyes the fact that there’s a whole host of incredible films out there if only we weren’t too lazy to read subtitles. Ironic, really, considering I have subtitles on for almost everything nowadays, but I digress. The film is beautifully shot, it’s dark and twisted and brutal and terrifying. The book, too, is beautifully written, dark, twisted, brutal, and terrifying. But ultimately, it’s the exact same narrative. I think even a lot of the dialogue is the same.

I loved revisiting the characters and the story – it’s been a while since I’ve seen the film so I couldn’t always remember exactly what came next but I still knew how it was going to end so there wasn’t much suspense for me. There were a few short chapters which were like little fairytales in themselves and gave more of a backstory to Princess Moanna, so I liked those a lot. I did enjoy the book; as I said, it was great to revisit the story in a different format, but because it felt so familiar and wasn’t new to me, I felt no desire to rush to the end. It actually took me quite a while to get through because I just didn’t get the urge to pick it up and find out what happens next because I knew. I would still recommend it to fans of the film who want to reimmerse themselves in that world. I think people who maybe have not yet watched the film would enjoy this more though; it’s an absolutely magical story but you lose a little bit of that magic when it’s already so familiar.

Rating: 3 / 5 stars

*I received a free e-ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.*

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