Book Review: Jim Henson’s Labyrinth (Jim Henson, A.C.H Smith)

Publisher: Archaia

Pages: 288

Release Date: April 22nd 2014

Summary:

Sarah has thirteen hours to save her brother from a land where everything seems possible and nothing is what it seems.

Finally back in print and for the first time in hardcover, the novelization of LABYRINTH written by A.C.H. Smith and personally overseen by Jim Henson, is the first in a series of novels from the Jim Henson Archives.

This beautiful hardcover features unpublished goblin illustrations by legendary illustrator and concept artist Brian Froud and an exclusive peek into Jim Henson’s creative process with 50 never-before-seen pages from his personal journal, detailing the initial conception of his ideas for LABYRINTH.

Review:

The first thing to say about this is it’s a massive nostalgia fest. I’m not sure you’d get as much enjoyment out of it if you weren’t a fan of the film/hadn’t watched it when you were younger. This doesn’t apply to me as I was a huge fan of it when I was younger. It came out about five years before I was born but I remember having it on VHS and watching it over and over with my sister and cousins.

Labyrinth is a coming of age fantasy about Sarah, a young girl who resents her stepmother and half brother and wishes the Goblin King would take him away. Lo and behold, the Goblin King (still David Bowie in my head when I read this) does just that and gives Sarah thirteen hours to solve his labyrinth and save her brother. She meets a whole host of colourful characters, learns some lessons about fairness and friendship and eventually faces down the Goblin King. It’s a good old-fashioned adventure story with some great puzzles and riddles and some truly weird characters.

Throughout reading, I was constantly picturing the film. The prose was fairly simplistic: I’m not really sure what age this is aimed at, other than people like me who loved the film. While I really enjoyed reading it, I think it lacked a bit of the magic of the film, and that’s because it didn’t have the film’s amazing visuals: the puppets, the amazing sets, David Bowie… It did remind me how much I loved the film though.

In this edition, there’s extras at the end which were really interesting. There’s several pages of original drawings by Brian Froud, Jim Henson’s longtime collaborator, and notes from Jim Henson when he was coming up with ideas for the film. Froud’s drawings were truly amazing and I could spend ages looking at them. I struggled with Jim Henson’s notes: while the idea of reading them was exciting, I’m terrible at reading handwriting, and couldn’t really make out what a lot of it said. That’s a personal thing, though.

If you’re a fan of the original Labyrinth film and want to have a good old dose of nostalgia then this book is definitely for you.

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