In a world where the trees whisper secrets and fairies exist, Ofelia is being taken to The Wolf. Along with her pregnant mother, she is en route to the military base in the forest run by her stepfather, the captain. Despite her despair at her new family dynamic, Ofelia can’t help but be intrigued by the forest surrounding the old mill, and the labyrinth nestled in its shadows. Just like the fairy tales she so loves, Ofelia’s world is about to become magical.
Tempted by a fairy, the young girl is lured to the labyrinth, where she meets a faun who declares that she is not Ofelia, but Princess Moanna. To return to her throne and her true family, she must complete three tasks before the full moon. Added to this challenge is the menacing presence of her step father, and a violent rebellion taking place within the woods.
Pan’s Labyrinth is the novelization of the eponymous film, gifted to us by the imagination of Guillermo Del Toro, a true magician and master of his craft. For fans of the movie, this is a treat to which words can do no justice. Filled with poetry, vivid imagery and a tingling sense of foreboding, the book offers a peek into the world not represented in the film – its history and myths, which answer any questions raised by the film. On its own, the book is a work of art, but together with the film, it is a study in the unbelievable.
There is something primal about this book – it is entrenched with a sense of nostalgia and wonder – an echo of the tales and beliefs we had as children, infused with the dangers and dramas of an adult world. Del Toro’s creation is a marvel. This novel captures the visual cues of the film, and adds to it a sense of depth and majesty, making it enjoyable from the first word, and creating a sense of great loss at the final full stop.
Pan’s Labyrinth by Guillermo Del Toro and Cornelia Funke is published by Bloomsbury, and is available in South Africa from Jonathan Ball Publishers.