Creatures of the Night is a book with two stories written by my favorite author (the ridiculously talented) Neil Gaiman. The stories are both fables of a sort, or fairy-tales for the modern age. It starts with “The Price,” a deeply sad story about a cat who glad to be taken in, defends his new family, to near death. The story is not long on words, but what you get in visuals is enough to propel the story. he family and the cats are really well done, but where it really starts to tug at your heart is when the devil appears. The illustrations are beautiful. Michall Zulli’s drawings are lush and scary all at once.
Watching the black cat do battle for a family that he has just met is heart-wrenching, but the last few words of the story are the worst. You feel for the family, true, but your heart breaks for the black cat. And then that leaves you wondering, if the black cat were to die, would the devil get the family?
The second story in the pair is “The Daughter of Owls,” yet another tragic story that leaves you with hope, but a sadness as well. In this story, the illustrator, Michael Zulli hooked me. The colors are beautiful, deep and sad. The drawings are like a painting come to life. After reading this, I am going to be looking for other things that he has illustrated just to get the fix.
But back to the story. “The Daughter of Owls” is a cautionary tale of a sort., or that is how I read it. A baby is found. A baby of unknown origin, who of course must be “evil.” Therefore she must die. Because really! Cooler heads (or beards) prevail and he baby girl is not killed. She is sent to live alone, in a walled convent, with a nun that is not a nun anymore. Merely an old lady who probably can’t take care of herself, but here let’s give her an infant. Cause that is a good plan. The old lady dies, because yeah I saw that coming, and the girl is left to fend for herself. Never learning to speak or interact with people, aside from the one good woman in town who brings her food. And because of this the town’s men decide that they must of course go ravish her, because hey, that’s what men did back then right? The whole story had me shaking my head. It is well written, well illustrated, but so heavy handed. Although I will admit that I smiled when I saw the pile of wedding rings that was all that was left of the men who thought that messing with the “evil” child was a smart plan.
All in all, as usual, I am not disappointed in a Neil Gaiman book. I love his style and the energy he puts into his writing. I’d definitely recommend this to his fans, and really any fan of fairy-tales.