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Goat Heads and Sand Burrs, P. Kirby's Reading Blog

The good, bad, and fugly books I've read.
Fables, Vol. 15: Rose Red - Inaki Miranda, Andrew Pepoy, Dan Green, Mark Buckingham, Steve Leialoha, Bill Willingham Rose Red is back.

After spending Volume 13 in a deep depression and having joyless sex with -- *shudder* -- Jack Horner, Rose finally pulls herself together and takes up the mantle of leadership at The Farm, the home now to both the nonhuman Fables and the former residents of Fabletown (now once again refugees).

And not a moment too soon, as the various factions are fomenting all kinds of insurrection and mischief. Geppetto is still a power hungry bastard. The cult of Blue, led by Brock Blueheart, aka Stinky the badger, is going strong. Meanwhile, Mister Dark's bad mojo has spread so far that Beast and Bigby can't be near each other without brawling. Meanwhile, Frau Totenkinder, now the beautiful Bellflower, is working on a plan to deal with Mister Dark, once and for all.

A big chunk of the book is devoted to Rose Red and Snow White's backstory. The details that are presented largely serve to fill in the blanks about the sister's relationship. I mean, it's obvious that Rose Red has some issues with her sis, and that some of her issues are as trumped up as a fairy tale. I'm tempted to say the backstory wasn't necessary--though entertaining--but then, with this series, sometimes seemingly obscure details factor big later in the story.

The second half of Rose Red is given over to Bellflower's battle with Mister Dark, a confrontation that illustrates one of the things I love most about this series. Strong female characters. Despite the fairy tale trappings, there are no insipid, oh-so-pretty princesses waiting for their prince to come. (Though Rose Red did take a Bella Swan-esque turn with all the moping.) Interestingly, Bellflower does long for a kind of happily-ever-after. Why not? She's earned it.

Also included in this volume are several bonus materials: a short story about Pinocchio that explains the last panel in the main story; a couple of vignettes featuring Thumbelina, and the Three Blind Mice; a Q&A section from celebrities, and a board game. Uh, yeah, a board game.

Not quite the tightest of the Fables narratives, but one of the best in a while. (I see it as a kind of consolation prize for getting through Vol. 13.)