Do you enjoy fairy tales? How about when classic tales are given a new twist? Are you a fan of the ABC TV show Once Upon a Time? If you said yes, then you’ll want to check out Peter & Max. This novel is based on Bill Willingham’s award-winning Fables series of graphic novels (featured on our blog twice before). But, you don’t have to have read any of the graphic novels to enjoy the story of Peter & Max. Much like in Once Upon a Time there are fairy tale characters now living in our mundane world. They have fled to our world as the invading goblin army of the Adversary has slowly swallowed up their homelands, and they now live in hiding in New York City and on a farm upstate. Also like the TV show Once, the story of Peter & Max alternates between the current day in our world and what happened long ago in their homelands.
The story begins in modern times on a farm, where Peter Piper and his wife Bo live on an isolated parcel. Rose Red comes to see them and deliver some bad news to Peter. It seems that his brother Max is in our world. Why is this bad news? Well, those old sibling rivalries can turn very ugly when allowed to fester for a few centuries, especially when one brother travels the path of dark magic and destruction. Peter soon sets out to confront his brother and knows that one way or another it will be their final encounter and that one of them will die.
Long, long ago, back in his home world, Peter and his family of traveling musicians went to the annual fair and stopped to visit their friends the Peeps. During their stay with the Peeps, Peter’s father bestows a magical flute called Frost on him. Max is instantly jealous because he is the oldest son and accuses Peter of stealing it. Meanwhile, the Adversary’s army has just invaded and conquered, causing the Pipers and Peeps to flee into the Black Forest. While in the woods the group is savagely attacked and they must split up in hopes of making it to safety. While Peter escapes to Hamelin Town, Max spends years in the vast forest, slowly growing more evil-minded until he is found by a powerful witch who gives Max his own magic flute, which responds to his powers of dark magic.
The alternating chapters move the separate stories forward filling us in on what else happened to Peter, Max, and Bo that led them to where they are today. The conclusion is a powerful showdown that fully lived up to my expectations and even surprised me! This is a very fast-paced book with plenty of action to keep the reader turning pages. The novel is also illustrated throughout by the talented Steve Leialoha (who worked on the Fables comics). I highly recommend Peter & Max – an original prose novel by a guy who’s won awards for writing comic books.