Wednesday, July 24, 2013

If You Like This, Then Try... Snow White and the Huntsman and Holly Black

Most of remember last summer’s blockbuster, Snow White and the Huntsman (SWatH), if for no other reason than it caused the breakup of K-Stew and Robert Pattinson. But for the rest of us that didn’t give two shits about the relationship status of the aforementioned A-listers, we might remember the film for different reasons.

For me, it was a film with potential that, sadly, went underdeveloped. In particular, the plot and world suffered from the film’s pace. When I wanted the film to linger, it moved too quickly, and when I wanted it to speed up, it dragged. However, what compensated for all of its faults--including Stewart’s lackluster acting (if one can even call it that)--are the visuals. Hate on that movie all you like, but you have to admit that it is one of the most stunning films, aesthetically, to come out in recent years. (While I might question director Rupert Sander’s choice in lovers, his vision embraces the grotesque and makes it gorgeous.)

If you happened to be like me, not outright hating the film but wishing it could’ve been more, there’s a solution for you: Holly Black. Best known for her middle-grade chapter books, The Spiderwick Chronicles, she began her career in YA and still cranks out some great material for an older audience. (Just check out her most recent Curse Workers series and tell me I’m wrong.)

In particular, though, Ms. Black retains very similar aesthetics to Sander’s dark vision for SWatH. She takes the frightening and horrific and--often--turns it into something both disturbing and beautiful.

Her first novel, TITHE, is a perfect example of what Black is capable of. She takes the faerie stories of old and gives them a much darker, sinister take. (And she was doing this long before the resurgence of fairy-tale retellings by way of Grimm and Once Upon a Time and other such nonsense.) This story follows an outcast of a teen as she comes across a wounded knight. After this chance encounter, she’s soon sucked into the world of the fey, a place much darker than the chipper and technicolor presentation of Disney’s Tinkerbelle and crew. Black’s faeries are frightening creatures, full of sinister plots and working towards humanity’s destruction.

These themes and tropes follow through a number of Black’s other writings as well, from her other self-dubbed modern faerie tales VALIANT and IRONSIDE, to her graphic novel series THE GOOD NEIGHBORS. (The latter is gorgeously illustrated by the super talented Ted Naifeh.)

So if you loved the darker and--dare I say--grim stylings of SWatH, you’ll no doubt love the equally creepy and beautiful worlds Black offers. Better still, you’ll come away satisfied.

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