I’m just going to start off this review by acknowledging that this blog post probably has a lot of you scratching your heads as it appears out of the mist – fully formed and full of opinions that had been silent for such a long time, previously – and say, yes, I’m back.
I never announced my leaving this last time, because it wasn’t something I intended to happen. No one thinks a reading slump is going to hit them, just like no one expects anxiety to cast its pall over any attempt you make to get out of it.
I’ll spare you all the gory details, but lets just say that in the end I figured out one crucial thing: I had to stop taking everything so seriously.
I guess I’m something of a perfectionist, and as a blogger and reader I have a terrible habit of comparing the things I do with fellow bloggers in the game. Am I reading fast enough? Am I conveying the right things in my reviews? Do the word I’m lining up on the page even make sense?
It ended up being a lot for me. So I’ve made a decision to stop worrying so much. The aim is not to try to be the best, but rather to enjoy what I’m doing for the sake of doing it. From now on, I plan on living in the moment. Reading what I want – when I want to. Writing reviews when I feel the urge. Taking photos for Instagram when I can. I’m following the joy from here on out.
So while I can’t promise a routine posting schedule right now, I promise that the content that I will be posting will be stuff that inspired me in the moment, that I’m truly passionate about sharing with you.
Shadows of the Dark Crystal (Jim Henson’s The Dark Crystal #1)
ILLUSTRATIONS BRIAN FROUD & CORY GODBEY
PUBLISHED: June 2016
PUBLISHER: Grosset & Dunlap
PAGE COUNT: 264
GENRE: Fantasy / Adventure / Young Adult
Plot at a Glance:
Jim Henson’s The Dark Crystal: Shadows of the Dark Crystal is set years before the events of the classic film and follows the journey of a young Gelfling woman who leaves her secluded home to uncover the truth surrounding the disappearance of her brother who has been accused of treason by the sinister Skeksis Lords.
When single shines the triple sun/What was sundered and undone/Shall be whole, the two made one/By Gelfling hand or else by none.
The Dark Crystal has been a staple in my life since my early childhood. I remember watching the original movie (and Labyrinth with David Bowie and Jennifer Connolly!) over and over again on VHS with my siblings. It got to the point where we can still quite lines from the movies to each other by heart. So you can imagine how excited I’ve been by the resurgence of this universe into popular culture over the last few years!
Shadows of the Dark Crystal clearly lays a lot of the groundwork and foundation that we saw in the Netflix revival series, Age of Resistance, with a few critical differences. While Rian was the star of the Netflix series – and he also exists within this series and follows a similar storyline to the show – this novel shifts the perspective to center around another set of characters on their own adventure within the world of Thra.
I thought I would miss Rian’s perspective as the central figure in this story, but I really came to love Naia as the main character. Sister to Gurjin, (both ancillary characters that fans of the Netflix show might recall) Naia is next in line to become Maudra of the Drenchen clan and as such bears a mantle of responsibility to her family and her people that sometimes threatens to overpower her. When her brother, Gurjin goes missing, Naia is tasked with leaving her home for the first time in search of what happened to him. She is driven to protect the people she cares about, and I loved how she grows into her own strength over the course of the story.
Missing entirely from this story is Deet, who is another central figure in the Netflix show. It’s clear that the writers of the scripts for the show borrowed heavily from the character of Naia when they were writing Deet, and while I did miss the Grotton fan favorite, I also am a little bit bummed out that Naia didn’t get her chance to properly shine in the show like she does here.
It’s clear that J.M. Lee was a huge fan of the movie. You can feel the love and respect for the original lore and story here, but I also so appreciate all the creativity that Lee’s voice brought to the Dark Crystal mythos as well. Whereas the original film relies on atmosphere, character and set design to convey much of the cultures of the Gelfling, Skeksis and Mystics, Lee expands on all that by adding new levels of complexity to the cultures and behaviors of the creatures of Thra.
The writing is snappy and fast-paced. This is a book that one can easily breeze through in a weekend, but that quick pace doesn’t keep the prose from being wonderfully engaging. Lee showcases the beauty of Thra as well as its dangers with his outstanding ability to describe the world, its characters and their place within it.
The Skeksis are also at their most formidable in this book. With the introduction of possibly the coolest Skeksis character of all time (SkekMal the Hunter) Lee infuses the story with suspense and danger that definitely places this into the pageturner category.
As for when the story is set – like the Netflix series, it’s not entirely clear. As fans of the movie know, in the film, Jen is the last of his kind. In this series, the Gelfling society is yet untouched by the Skeksis and their corruption of the crystal. It’s definitely a little depressing to consider what may happen to the characters over the course of the series, which might make this book a bit of a challenge for some readers. That being said, I think the original Dark Crystal – and this novel both shine because they are unafraid to peer upon darkness from time to time. It raises the stakes, and the story is all the more memorable for it.
🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 – 5 out of 5 stars
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Where are my other Dark Crystal or Labyrinth fans?? Lets chat about the movie, Netflix Series, or this book series below!