Down the Mysterly River by Bill Willingham (with illustrations by Mark Buckingham)

Ever since my cousin introduced me to Fables, I was immediately hooked by this graphic novel series! I never expected the storyline of Fables to be that interesting, and even the idea of having crossovers of fairy tale characters is just as brilliant. Reading Fables is like reliving my childhood memories once again, adding it with deeper messages for mature readers intended by the author. I am amazed by Bill Willingham’s masterpiece and by Mark Buckingham’s artistic skills. And their recent work, Down the Mysterly River, surely did not disappoint me. They, without a doubt, lived up to my expectations.

Here’s the plot description from the cover flap of the book:

Max “the Wolf” is a top-notch Boy Scout, an expert at orienteering, and a master of being prepared. So it is a little odd that he suddenly finds himself, with no recollection of his immediate past, lost in an unfamiliar wood. Even odder still, he encounters a badger named Banderbrock, a black bear named Walden, and McTavish the Monster (who might also be an old barn cat)—all of whom talk—and who are as clueless as Max.

Before long, Max and his friends are on the run from a relentless group of hunters and their deadly hounds. Armed with powerful blue swords and known as the Blue Cutters, these hunters capture and change the very essence of their prey. For what purpose, Max can’t guess. But unless he can solve the mystery of the strange forested world he’s landed in, Max may find himself and his friends changed beyond recognition, lost in a lost world…

Down the Mysterly River – just by the title of the book itself intrigued me and convinced me enough to buy a copy, apart from it being a work of Bill Willingham. For one thing, at a glance, something is already off in the title. I have never encountered the word “mysterly” before, as I know that that word is misspelled and doesn’t exist in dictionaries. Mystery is what sounded right, but as I further read through the pages of this book, I finally understand how the title came to be, as well as how the word mysterly exists in this mysterly world Bill Willingham creates. It’s actually quite a funny discovery and I’m sure readers will enjoy this book.

The storyline build-up is so intense that readers also get to participate in solving the mystery behind Max and his friends’ sudden appearances in an unfamiliar world. The main characters are hoping to find someone who can answer their never-ending questions and with the aid of an unexpected friend, they seek out to reach the Wizard Swift’s sanctuary. Along the way, the so-called Blue Cutters are making a hindrance to their plans. It will take much courage and sacrifice to arrive at their destination and Max and his friends will never give up that easily.

I love the unique character development each character possesses. Max the Wolf is good at solving mysteries. He may just be a boy, but he already has an attribute of a true Boy Scout – he is courageous, strategic, and wise and seems to be more mature than any boys of his age. Banderbrock, on the other hand, should never be judged by his physical appearance. He may be small in size, but he proves to be a brave soldier. Furthermore, Walden the black bear has a heart as large as his size and he cherishes and cares for his friends more than anything. And lastly, McTavish the “monster” may seem rude, but he certainly has a soft spot on his newly-found friends. The four of them may be different, but they also make a great team together.

I am so immersed in the story that I keep on reading, eager to know what will happen next. It makes me want to be there with the characters and partake in their journey together and help them. But, of course, a girl can dream because despite my said desire, in reality, I’m not as adventurous as I want myself to be. I’m just glad that Bill Willingham is able to give me this opportunity to enjoy the book.

I believe what Max and his friends have experienced isn’t bad at all. Sometimes, even if it’s dangerous, I guess it’s significant to be lost in the world once in a while. This will definitely make one become open to unbelievable/unknown possibilities and drop any hint of preconceived notions about norms or social classes or beliefs, which may bring good outcomes in the end. Keeping an open mind is significant in shaping one’s being and view in life. Plus, one may get to meet and earn true friends along the way.

I am amazed by how Bill Willingham formed the storyline with much creativeness that it’s filled with surprising twists. As the story progresses, more questions will be formulated, but towards the end of the book, it will definitely leave readers satisfyingly full of answers with shocking revelations. And I’m glad by the turnout of events. I wouldn’t have asked for another ending than this.

This book certainly provides a great avenue to gain a lot of insights and lessons. Aside from it being a work of fiction, I believe the author also intends to add literary and political themes in this book which can be applied in real life, such as the concept of freedom. With much depth in the message, it will make readers ponder its true meaning. Moreover, this book is not just about enjoying the adventures and mysteries being presented to the characters. It also tackles the value of true friendship. Evident in the book, no matter how diverse in kinds Max and his friends are, for better or worse, they are able to show that they have each other’s backs as they face their endeavours.

I truly recommend this book to everyone. This book will not let you down! It deserves a five-star rating. A great and enjoyable read, indeed.


About Rhin

Expression through words. Finding contentment in the simple things in life. Embracing opportunities. Daring to live her dream. View all posts by Rhin

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