Book Review: Beautiful Darkness (Fabien Vehlmann and Kerascoёt)

Details:Publisher: Drawn and Quarterly
Pages: 94
Release Date: 25th February 2014

Kerascoët’s and Fabien Vehlmann’s unsettling and gorgeous anti-fairy tale is a searing condemnation of our vast capacity for evil writ tiny. Join princess Aurora and her friends as they journey to civilization’s heart of darkness in a bleak allegory about surviving the human experience.  The sweet faces and bright leaves of Kerascoët’s delicate watercolors serve to highlight the evil that dwells beneath Vehlmann’s story as pettiness, greed, and jealousy take over.  Beautiful Darkness is a harrowing look behind the routine politeness and meaningless kindness of civilized society.


My boyfriend bought this home from our favourite comic book shop in Nottingham (Page 45, check it out) with orders to read it immediately and strict instructions not to flick through (apparently that spoils it).

I did as I was told and… wow. What a strange little thing he brought home.I say little, as it follows a group of tiny people as they climb out of [something disturbing which I won’t spoil here] and start to make a life for themselves in the wilderness. We follow Princess Aurora as she tries to recreate a civilised society in a place that is far from that.

It started beautifully, almost twee in fact, as Aurora entertains the Prince at her house but this quickly dissolves as something drips from the ceiling and seems to consume them completely. But they survive and find themselves starting life anew. After this, the story got a little confusing sometimes, as it jumps quickly between characters. This took a some getting used to, but I soon found it wasn’t always telling a linear story: more like snippets of events.

And what horrible snippets they can be sometimes! There are some very disturbing images in this book, so I definitely wouldn’t recommend it for younger readers. That’s where the beauty in the book lies: cute, almost cartoonish characters drawn next to shocking scenes of violence and gore.

I’ve had some debates with my partner over what this is about, but it screams to me of a Lord of the Flies type story: ultimately, man is evil and, whatever order we try to keep in nature soon turns to chaos. We see this when Princess Aurora throws a party for their new woodland neighbours, and is upset when they have no table manners, snatch food and piss on the table.

I expected a little more resolution or climax at the end. I think it could take a few more reads of this to fully understand it. But overall I’d recommend this to read if you’re a fan of Alice in Wonderland or Lord of the Flies type stories, and have a strong stomach for gore and the downright disturbing!


My Verdict:

Ahaha I love this book, you should totally read it!

If you enjoyed this you might like A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

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