Helena is about to embark on a most amazing journey.
Raised in a family of circus performers, she’s always dreamed of leading a more ordinary life. But when haunting music draws her into a strange and magical realm, one where anything can happen, her real life is stolen by a runaway from the other side. Helena must rescue the realm from chaos in order to win back her own not-so-ordinary life.
MirrorMask by Neil Gaiman reminds me of Alice In Wonderland and The Wizard of Oz, that sort of dreamlike quality that makes you question if it’s a dream, but then you go and question that as well because it’s not stated till later if at all. At times it will make no bloody sense, it’s not linear, and it can lose you. Unlike Wonderland and Oz, I enjoyed that dreamlike quality to an extent because I hadn’t read it before and yet, again unlike Wonderland and Oz, it didn’t feel as seamless as I would have liked.
Even though I enjoy a dreamlike, surreal quality in a story, Mirror Mask didn’t do it for me like a lot of other novels or graphic novels have done before it. Not only because there are several elements of it that remind me of other stories, but the surrealism of it didn’t quite flow enough for me and it felt a little lacking. I can’t figure out why that is, but I do wonder if it has something to do with it being an adaptation from a movie.
Even though it didn’t float my boat I still feel I can recommend it to other readers because I can understand the underlying story and I think it comes across in not a completely unique way, but in a way that’s not forceful or patronising for its intended audience. I really appreciate stories with that feel, written by adults, because it’s never pleasant when someone is trying to teach you a moral or life lesson in a way that makes them seem more knowledgeable then the receiver.
The morals, about greener pastures not being greener, accepting those around you and being appreciative for what you have, amongst other things, is shared in a relatable way. I’m starting to feel this is also a running theme with Gaiman now, being the third creation I’ve read of his work and I’m curious about reading more because I want to see if that is true, but I’m never won over so much that I want to go out of my way to find more of it.
The art (Dave McKean) is quite sparse, but I didn’t mind it, and I didn’t find it to be lacking in the story. In this graphic novel it feels like the words carry it far more than the pictures, but the pictures help to enhance it rather than the other way around.
If you’re reading it or have heard of the riddle mentioned and am wondering about it – What’s green, hangs on a wall and whistles? – the answer is at the end, but if you want to know it anyway it is a Herring. You can paint it green, nail it to a wall, and the whistle is just to make it more difficult. Its origins aren’t really well known, but the riddle itself became well known in the book The Joys of Yiddish by Leo Rosten, published in 1968.