Forbidden Brides of the Faceless Slaves in the Secret House of the Night of Dread Desire
Story by Neil Gaiman
Adaptation and Art by Shane Oakley
Colors Nick Filardi
Lettering by Todd Klein
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Release date: January 25, 2017
Everyone knows of author Neil Gaiman. Okay, maybe not everyone, but they should! In this newest incarnation, Forbidden Brides of the Faceless Slaves in the Secret House of the Night of Dread Desire finds a new audience in comic readers. Originally published in the anthology Fragile Things, this short story is more than it first seems.
Presented as a satirical look at gothic literature, the tale itself has an undercurrent of truth within it. Gaiman somehow manages to give us a story that is less mocking and therefore more embracing of this genre of fiction. The story is centered around an author who wants to write stories of real life but keeps getting interrupted by ravens, shambling undead, and murderous family and servants. His struggles, while darkly humorous, engage the reader to the point that we want to see his dreams fulfilled.
There are layers of parody, humor, and suspense within this tale but throughout it all, there is wit. It is that wit that transcends the story, giving the reader an unparalleled view of Gaiman and the worlds he envisions. I see a lot of Sandman, his quintessential work, though it feels less refined, more raw. And that is essentially why it works so well, it speaks to the dreamer in all of us. By the end of Forbidden Brides, the author finds his voice and his tale explodes onto the page. I get the feeling that there might be a bit of auto-biographical content here, or at least the ghostly silhouette of it. Anyone who strings words together understands the trials and difficulties that lie in wait.
It would be a hauntable offense if I failed to mention Shane Oakley and the spectacular artwork he provided for this publication. No stranger to morose art, his deeply shadowed panels convey the gloom and despair of the story. There are, however, some tongue-in-cheek scenes that are reminiscent of his previous work. I will say I hoped for some tentacles after all his Cthulhu work. But all kidding aside, he was the perfect choice for this comic and he adapted the story to comic form flawlessly.
You cannot go wrong with anything by Gaiman and that’s no exaggeration. Even his lesser known works are breathtaking. Ironic, satirical, and humorous though this current story might be, it is still a journey into a macabre and twisted world that will have you thinking deep into the night about your own life choices. Or maybe that was just me, who knows. Whatever the case, don’t hesitate to snag Forbidden Brides when you are able to find it. I have no doubt it will meet the needs of any horror or fantasy reader.