KINDRED SPIRITS + THE PRINCE AND THE TROLL by Rainbow Rowell

46 rainbow rowellHey so speaking of โ€” did you know Rainbow Rowell once wrote a Star Wars story? Well, Star Wars-adjacent, at any rate. For World Book Day a couple of years ago she came out with a short little story about a group of fans waiting in line for the premiere of ๐˜›๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ ๐˜๐˜ฐ๐˜ณ๐˜ค๐˜ฆ ๐˜ˆ๐˜ธ๐˜ข๐˜ฌ๐˜ฆ๐˜ฏ๐˜ด. I read it a short while after the story came out and, like a lot of Rowellโ€™s work, I pretty much loved it. Hereโ€™s a short review from an old blog:โ €
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๐™ธ ๐š•๐š˜๐šŸ๐šŽ ๐š๐šŠ๐š’๐š—๐š‹๐š˜๐š  ๐š๐š˜๐š ๐šŽ๐š•๐š•. ๐™ธ ๐š•๐š˜๐šŸ๐šŽ ๐š‘๐šŽ๐š› ๐šš๐šž๐š’๐š›๐š”๐šข ๐šŠ๐š—๐š ๐šŒ๐š•๐šŽ๐šŸ๐šŽ๐š› ๐šŠ๐š—๐š ๐š™๐šŠ๐šœ๐šœ๐š’๐š˜๐š—๐šŠ๐š๐šŽ ๐š ๐š›๐š’๐š๐š’๐š—๐š (๐š’๐š ๐š๐š‘๐šŽ๐š›๐šŽ ๐š ๐šŠ๐šœ ๐šŠ ๐š‹๐š˜๐š˜๐š” ๐šŽ๐šš๐šž๐š’๐šŸ๐šŠ๐š•๐šŽ๐š—๐š ๐š๐š˜ ๐˜Ž๐˜ช๐˜ญ๐˜ฎ๐˜ฐ๐˜ณ๐˜ฆ ๐˜Ž๐˜ช๐˜ณ๐˜ญ๐˜ด, ๐š’๐š ๐š ๐š˜๐šž๐š•๐š ๐š‹๐šŽ ๐šŠ ๐š๐š˜๐š ๐šŽ๐š•๐š• ๐š‹๐š˜๐š˜๐š”). ๐™ธ ๐š•๐š˜๐šŸ๐šŽ ๐š‘๐šŽ๐š› ๐šŠ๐š–๐šŠ๐šฃ๐š’๐š—๐š ๐šŠ๐š—๐š ๐šž๐š—๐šŒ๐šŠ๐š—๐š—๐šข ๐šŠ๐š‹๐š’๐š•๐š’๐š๐šข ๐š๐š˜ ๐š–๐šŠ๐š”๐šŽ ๐šข๐š˜๐šž ๐š๐šŠ๐š•๐š• ๐š๐š˜๐š› ๐šŠ ๐šŒ๐š‘๐šŠ๐š›๐šŠ๐šŒ๐š๐šŽ๐š› ๐š’๐š— ๐šŠ๐š•๐š–๐š˜๐šœ๐š ๐š—๐š˜ ๐š๐š’๐š–๐šŽ ๐šŠ๐š ๐šŠ๐š•๐š•.โ €
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๐šƒ๐š‘๐š’๐šœ ๐šœ๐šŠ๐š–๐šŽ ๐š๐šŠ๐š•๐šŽ๐š—๐š ๐š’๐šœ ๐š‹๐š›๐š’๐š•๐š•๐š’๐šŠ๐š—๐š๐š•๐šข ๐šœ๐š‘๐š˜๐š ๐šŒ๐šŠ๐šœ๐šŽ๐š ๐š’๐š— ๐‘ฒ๐’Š๐’๐’…๐’“๐’†๐’… ๐‘บ๐’‘๐’Š๐’“๐’Š๐’•๐’”, ๐šŠ ๐š—๐š˜๐šŸ๐šŽ๐š•๐š•๐šŠ ๐š๐š‘๐šŠ๐š, ๐š˜๐šŸ๐šŽ๐š› ๐š๐š‘๐šŽ ๐šŒ๐š˜๐šž๐š›๐šœ๐šŽ ๐š˜๐š ๐šœ๐š’๐šก๐š๐šข-๐š๐š ๐š˜ ๐š™๐šŠ๐š๐šŽ๐šœ, ๐š–๐šŠ๐š—๐šŠ๐š๐šŽ๐šœ ๐š๐š˜ ๐š‘๐šŠ๐šŸ๐šŽ ๐š–๐š˜๐š›๐šŽ ๐šŒ๐š‘๐šŠ๐š›๐šŠ๐šŒ๐š๐šŽ๐š› ๐š๐šŽ๐šŸ๐šŽ๐š•๐š˜๐š™๐š–๐šŽ๐š—๐š ๐š๐š‘๐šŠ๐š— ๐š–๐š˜๐šœ๐š ๐šœ๐š™๐š›๐šŠ๐š ๐š•๐š’๐š—๐š, ๐š‹๐š›๐š’๐šŒ๐š”-๐šœ๐š’๐šฃ๐šŽ๐š ๐š—๐š˜๐šŸ๐šŽ๐š•๐šœ. ๐™ธ๐šโ€™๐šœ ๐šŠ๐š— ๐šž๐š—๐š๐šŠ๐š’๐š› ๐š๐š’๐š๐š, ๐š›๐šŽ๐šŠ๐š•๐š•๐šข.โ €
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๐šƒ๐š‘๐š’๐šœ ๐š’๐šœ ๐šŠ ๐šœ๐š๐š˜๐š›๐šข ๐šŠ๐š‹๐š˜๐šž๐š ๐š๐š‘๐š›๐šŽ๐šŽ ๐š‚๐š๐šŠ๐š› ๐š†๐šŠ๐š›๐šœ ๐š๐šŽ๐šŽ๐š”๐šœ ๐šŒ๐šŠ๐š–๐š™๐š’๐š—๐š ๐š˜๐šž๐š ๐š’๐š— ๐šŠ ๐š๐šŽ๐šœ๐š˜๐š•๐šŠ๐š๐šŽ ๐š•๐š’๐š—๐šŽ ๐š’๐š— ๐š๐š›๐š˜๐š—๐š ๐š˜๐š ๐šŠ๐š— ๐™พ๐š–๐šŠ๐š‘๐šŠ ๐š๐š‘๐šŽ๐šŠ๐š๐šŽ๐š› ๐š๐š˜๐š› ๐š๐š‘๐šŽ ๐š™๐š›๐šŽ๐š–๐š’๐šŽ๐š›๐šŽ ๐š˜๐š ๐˜›๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ ๐˜๐˜ฐ๐˜ณ๐˜ค๐˜ฆ ๐˜ˆ๐˜ธ๐˜ข๐˜ฌ๐˜ฆ๐˜ฏ๐˜ด. ๐™ธ๐š ๐š’๐šœ ๐š•๐š˜๐šŸ๐šŽ๐š•๐šข, ๐šŠ๐š—๐š ๐š’๐š ๐š’๐šœ ๐šŒ๐š‘๐šŠ๐š›๐š–๐š’๐š—๐š, ๐šŠ๐š—๐š ๐š’๐š ๐š’๐šœ ๐šœ๐š˜ ๐š ๐š˜๐š—๐š๐šŽ๐š›๐š๐šž๐š•. ๐™ธ ๐š๐š’๐š—๐š’๐šœ๐š‘๐šŽ๐š ๐š๐š‘๐šŽ ๐šœ๐š๐š˜๐š›๐šข ๐š’๐š— ๐š˜๐š—๐šŽ ๐šœ๐š’๐š๐š๐š’๐š—๐š, ๐š๐šŽ๐šœ๐š™๐šŽ๐š›๐šŠ๐š๐šŽ๐š•๐šข ๐š ๐š’๐šœ๐š‘๐š’๐š—๐š ๐š๐š‘๐šŽ๐š›๐šŽ ๐š ๐šŠ๐šœ ๐šŠ ๐š๐šž๐š•๐š•-๐š•๐šŽ๐š—๐š๐š๐š‘ ๐š—๐š˜๐šŸ๐šŽ๐š• ๐š๐šŽ๐šŠ๐š๐šž๐š›๐š’๐š—๐š ๐š๐š‘๐šŽ๐šœ๐šŽ ๐šŒ๐š‘๐šŠ๐š›๐šŠ๐šŒ๐š๐šŽ๐š›๐šœ ๐š๐š‘๐šŠ๐š ๐™ธ ๐šŒ๐š˜๐šž๐š•๐š ๐š’๐š–๐š–๐šŽ๐š๐š’๐šŠ๐š๐šŽ๐š•๐šข ๐š™๐š’๐šŒ๐š” ๐šž๐š™. ๐™ท๐šŽ๐šŠ๐š›๐š๐š ๐šŠ๐š›๐š–๐š’๐š—๐š ๐šŠ๐š—๐š ๐š‹๐šŽ๐šŠ๐šž๐š๐š’๐š๐šž๐š•.โ €
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Like every December since the first film in the sequel trilogy came out, Star Wars has been on my mind a lot, which is why I decided to revisit the slim volume. I enjoyed it just as much this time around, appreciating especially how it captures the eager, edgy excitement a lot of fans of the saga felt in the run-up of the release of TFA. You know, before the dark times. Before the ๐˜‹๐˜ช๐˜ด๐˜ค๐˜ฐ๐˜ถ๐˜ณ๐˜ด๐˜ฆ. This does tragically make the story act somewhat like a time capsule, however, portraying as it does a facet of fandom that seems quaint and innocent considering the meaningless gatekeeping and toxic rhetoric that is so maddeningly prevalent these days. Alas. โ €
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You and I can still enjoy things, though. Itโ€™ll be our secret. โ €
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Shortly after finishing the novella, I was made aware of a series of fairy tale retellings a bunch of prominent authors were doing for the Amazon Original Stories initiative. Rowell was one of these writers, contributing ๐‘ป๐’‰๐’† ๐‘ท๐’“๐’Š๐’๐’„๐’† ๐’‚๐’๐’… ๐’•๐’‰๐’† ๐‘ป๐’“๐’๐’๐’, an odd little tale that doesnโ€™t seem to be an interpretation of any one fable in particular but instead plays with the troll-under-the-bridge narrative. The story seems to be a blend of Rowellโ€™s realistic contemporary style and the dark whimsy found in her fantasy fiction. This makes it a bit disjointed but it works for the most part. The aforementioned gift is once more in full display here as I also finished this peculiar yarn wanting to know more about the two protagonists, and about the world in specific, which appears to be a sort of post-climate apocalypse mythical land (that, you know, still has Starbucks). Also because once I read that title I just ๐˜ฌ๐˜ฏ๐˜ฆ๐˜ธ Rowell would make them fall in love with each other and that I would buy it hook, line, sinker โ€” and, reader, I ๐˜ฅ๐˜ช๐˜ฅ.

PUMPKINHEADS by Rainbow Rowell, Faith Erin Hicks

pumpkinheads

Rainbow Rowell has made me cry.ย Yet again. I’ve read enough of her work for this to be expected, but everything aboutย Pumpkinheadsย โ€” her first graphic novel with the inimitable Faith Erin Hicks โ€” sounded to me like it was just going to be a cute, fun romp.

And it was, you know?ย Pumpkinheads is the story of Josiah and Deja, two high school seniors who’ve spent the last couple of years working at their local pumpkin patch every Fall. Theirs is a seasonal friendship, but the bond they develop is strong and they consider themselves best friends. This is their last season working together, and once it wraps up they will both, for the last time, go their separate ways, towards college and new lives. So Deja is determined to have their last day (their last Hallowe’enย together) be an adventure. “Friends,” she says at one point, “don’t let friends live small lives.”

Pumpkinheadsย is charming and adorable and the most fun, gentle read. As are most of Rowell’s stories. And like most of Rowell’s stories, it isn’tย just any of those things. There’s always more. And there’s a lot of heart and soul in this graphic novel. A lot of true things about friendship and relationships and what it means to leave people and places behind. And quite a lot of Autumn. This is probably the most Fall book I’ve ever read. I couldย feel it wrapped around me like a light sweater, could practically smell the crisp October air. Quite the feat considering I live in Puerto Rico, and have never actually come across a proper, Midwestern Fall.

All of this is beautifully conveyed by Faith Erin Hicks’s beautiful, beautiful artwork. She’s drawn up a gorgeous and warm, welcoming world into which I desperately want to jump.

Hicks deserves a lot of recognition in terms of the story, too. The book’s back matter includes a conversation between the authors which makes note of the fact that the script Hicks received from Rowell was more screenplay-like in nature, lacking a lot of the beat-by-beat description that is usually found in most comic book scripts, and it was up to her to break down the panels and figure out the pacing of the story. A job she did marvelously โ€” this is a fulfilling but very brisk read. (“There is a lot of skill,” Hicks says, “behind a ‘quick read.'”)

Hicks ends the same conversation with the following: “In the beginning, you’re trying to get to know them, who they are and how best to draw them so their personalities come through, visually. And by the time you’ve drawn the last page in their graphic novel, these characters are your best friends.” This is, of course, in reference to the drawing process, but it also perfectly encapsulates the experience of reading the story of these characters. You pretty much like Josie and Deja from the get-go, but youย loveย them by the end. And then you understand, quite perfectly, just why they are so loathe to say good bye to their pumpkin patch.

I loved this book.