Thursday, December 4, 2014

Lord of the Flies, in pretty, minuscule watercollor

Beautiful Darkness
Like pretty much everyone else who saw Elizabeth's review of Beautiful Darkness, by Fabien Vehlmann and illustrated by Kerascoet, I immediately had the book on my radar.  Luckily, the library has the book and I just got to read it.  And, as Elizabeth says, it is SO CREEPY.

This book is what I remember of Lord of the Flies, all the way down to the dead person offering no help, decaying as the civilization around her decays.  A population of small people is somehow whisked away from their fairy tale-esque life of balls and hot chocolate and happiness and dropped into a wild, foreign place with no one to help them.  At first, they all try to help each other under the leadership of Princess Aurora, who works hard to make sure everyone has what she needs.  But not everyone wants to work, and not everyone is created equal.  People commit horrible acts and then go on with their days as though nothing has changed.  And through it all, Princess Aurora works to make things better.

As Elizabeth stated in her review, this is a book that stays with you long after you finish reading it.  not only due to the scary things that happen in its pages but also because of the juxtaposition of those horrible things and the beautiful, almost idyllyic scenery in which they happen.  Like in Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness, everyone here reverts to their baser selves, focused on primacy and power.  This is humanity with a veneer of civilization but with gloves off and claws out.

I had a lot of trouble finding a page of panels to share in this review because I don't want to give too much away.  I already feel like maybe I did, with my references to Lord of the Rings and Heart of Darkness.  If you are anything like me, those two comparisons may be enough to send you running in the other direction.  I didn't much care for those books when I read them - they were too raw and visceral and overt.  But now that I've read Beautiful Darkness, I think that the overtness was fine.  In this book, the in-your-face selfishness of humanity seems so at odds with the waif-like, adorable characters that it really gets in your head!

And that's all I'll say.  If you happen to be somewhere in the world where there is lush greenness around you, I highly recommend you to read this book outside - I bet you won't look at birds and bees in quite the same way for at least a few days afterward.  If you're in the midst of winter like I am, then read it in front of a warm and cozy fire with a cup of hot cocoa - you'll need it.


  1. I saw a BookTuber review this one, and while she has a pretty strong tolerance for terrible, she said it was, "pretty fucked up." LOL I definitely want to read Elizabeth's review and give it a try.

  2. Okay! Sold! I love creepy stories the best, and very little pleases me more than a juxtaposition of beauty and creepiness. I actually think I had this on my radar sometime in the past, but somehow it didn't make it to my TBR list before. Now it's on there!

  3. I think I could handle this ... (I don't do too much horror). The art is great.

  4. I have to re-read Heart of Darkness this coming week, and I hated the book the first time around. Maybe if I do a paired reading with this one, it will be better.

  5. I'm glad I'm not the only one that enjoyed this! SOOOO creepy, but in the best possible way.


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