Whilst the narrative that was started in book 1 and 2 were carried on through this volume, there were also a couple of stories that provided some more back story to the individual characters that were a lot of fun, but almost stood separately to the overall story arc.
As with all the Fables books, these are fairytale stories for grown ups. There is sex and violence aplenty throughout the pages, and plenty of adult themes! Not to mention blood and gore!
The first instalment in this book features Jack (of the Beanstalk and giant slaying variety). During the American Civil War, the always scheming Jack thought that he might be able to make some money. Unfortunately, he picked the wrong side as he joined the Southern forces, but he jumps ship and heads away from the action through the swamps where he meets Nick Slick, and is forced to gamble for his soul! The consequences of the unforeseen outcome are funny but also macabre!
The final instalment tells the story of the Lilliputian men who came to live in Fabletown back in the early days of New York. Only problem was that there were only men who came and obviously there are no other women who were their size, other than Thumbelina, and so action needs to be taken! One brave Lilliputian risks his life to go back to their homeland and steal the special beans that create the flowers that women come from (if they don't come from the normal method that is!). Both of these standalone tales were a lot of fun.
It is the second and third stories that drive the story arc. With Snow White still on limited duties recovering from the events of the last book, Digby Wolf is ostensibly in charge. When a mundy (i.e non fable human) journalist threatens to reveal everything he knows (or at least what he thinks he knows) about the Fabletown community, desperate action is required, although between Digby, Prince Charming and Bluebeard there are differences of opinion as to what action that should be! Whilst Bluebeard favours a permanent solution, Digby's plan involves using the curse that afflicts Briar Rose and then a much more devious solution to silence the man. I was amused by the way that Briar Rose had to be awoken!
As always, there are plenty of big egos involved and when people get pissed off, then there is of course retribution to be taken. In the third story, Snow White and Digby Wolf (as in big, bad) are put under an enchantment and find themselves marooned out camping in the wild together. It is only when their lives are endangered that there is a gradual thaw in their usually frosty relationship. As any romance reader knows that, it is often the people who clash the most who really have the strongest attraction, especially when they find themselves in mortal danger! It was interesting to see how the authors chose to deal with this with a lot of the action taking place off stage and even out of the characters memories, and some ongoing consequences to be dealt with in the future episodes I suspect.
Whilst I still enjoyed this instalment, and I liked the standalone stories, I did find that I was perplexed at how they fitted into the overall scheme of things at first. I also thought that there were a couple of plot holes, particularly in relation to Prince Charming. Maybe this will be further explored it the next instalment, which I am looking forward to.
Other artists include Mark Buckingham and Steve Leialoha
In the Fables' world, there isn't a lot of happily-ever-after to go around. As refugees from the lands of make-believe, the Fables have been driven from their storybook realms and forced to blend in with out gritty, mundane reality.
But that doesn't mean they don't have any room for romance -- or the pain, betrayal and jealous rage that go along with it. In fact, love may be blooming between two of the most hard-bitten, no-nonsense Fables around. But are they destined for happiness -- or a quick and untimely death?