Ah ha! Another one I read way back in May for Wyrd & Wonder. (I’ll keep saying this for some time since I’m just now catching up on reviews and am quite proud of myself.) I borrowed it off my library’s Libby app thinking it was a children’s picture book. It’s a middle grade graphic novel.
The Wizard’s Tale by Kurt Busiek, illus. by David T. Wenzel
A magical story of redemption, The Wizard’s Tale follows the aged Bafflerog Rumplewhisker and his young companion, Muddle, the woodcutter’s son, as they embark on a quest to retrieve the magical Book of Worse — a tome that will ensure the land of Ever-Night remains as it is, a dark and gloomy realm of evil. But old Rumplewhisker’s heart slowly warms on their journey, and a chance to restore a semblance of goodness to Ever-Night is possible — if he and his young charge can dare face the challenges ahead. (Goodreads)
The Wizard’s Tale was such a charming read. It’s about a wizard who’s failing at being an evil wizard. Old Bafflerog Rumplewhisker is descended from a long line of evil wizards but is the last of his line and lives in his family’s castle with his whimsical, fey-like companions and a toad called Gumpwort. Tasked with finding the Book of Worse, a tome to ensure the land of Ever-Night remains mired in darkness, Rumplewhisker sets off on a quest with the woodcutter’s son, Muddle, to travel through time and space to unexpected lands to locate the book and, possibly, love.
The light, whimsical nature of this story reminds me strongly of old children’s fantasy books I read as a kid, like The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe and Enid Blyton’s Faraway Tree series. You get a warm, enveloping feel when reading them that gently pulls you into their fantasy lands, and most of the characters tend to be sweet, gentle creatures. I just felt as if I reexperienced a positive feeling from my childhood while reading The Wizard’s Tale. It’s a book I know I would have enjoyed back then.
However, that’s the major positive I have for the book — the feeling I had while reading it — because otherwise, I wasn’t completely sold on the story, and the characters didn’t appeal to me much. Muddle, the woodcutter’s son, seemed unnecessary and was just there to throw a curve ball in the plot, I guess, since it deviates from having the young character become the hero and marry the princess he meets on his quest. I liked that change, actually, and liked too that this is a quest that focuses on an older character. It seems that such stories are becoming one of my fantasy preferences.
I realized that this is listed as young adult in the categories on Goodreads, and it’s possible that it was categorized as such back in the late 1990s when it was published, but YA books and comics are so much more mature than this these days that I instead categorize it as middle grade. But despite that, I think this is a graphic novel that readers of any age can read and enjoy as long as they approach it with an open mind for a light, sweet story.
The art style is another major reason why reading this made me think of my childhood, and why I thought it was a picture book at first. I don’t know how to describe the style, but it makes me think of Rene Cloke’s work (the Blyton books I read as a kid were illustrated by her) and also that of Dutch artist, Rien Poortvliet. It’s a style I like and one I’ll always associate with whimsy and charm and reading books on a bright, sunny day due to my childhood. In my experience, I’ve often seen this style used in children’s picture books and illustrated children’s novels, never in comic books, so that’s why I began the book thinking it was a picture book.
It was an okay read and I liked it but mostly because it made me nostalgic for times spent reading as a kid.