The 13 Clocks, by James Thurber
Publisher: Penguin Books
Release Date: August 2, 2016
Synopsis: “The hands of all thirteen clocks stand still in the gloomy castle on a lonely hill where a wicked Duke lives with his niece, the beautiful Princess Saralinda. The Duke fancies he has frozen time, for he is afraid that one day a Prince may come and win away the hand of the Princess—the only warm hand in the castle. To thwart that fate, he sets impossible tasks for Saralinda’s suitors. But when the bold Prince Zorn of Zorna arrives, disguised as a wandering minstrel, and helped by the enigmatic Golux, the cold Duke may at last have met his match.”
Review: This was good. Really good.
Before I go further I should probably say how influential of a writer Neil Gaiman is to me. He’s my favorite living author, and for the past couple years or more I’ve basically been obsessed with him. I love almost every single thing that he writes, I’m always so excited for a new book (or adaptation) of his, and any recommendation he makes I will take as gospel.
I’ve also been obsessed recently with collecting all of his books (check), graphic novels (check), children’s books (in progress), and books he contributed to (in progress). So the fact that he wrote the introduction here made me want to get it. In a, “some day, down the line, when I start collecting just books he’s given the introduction to” type of way. (Because that’s how much I trust Gaiman’s recommendations–I honestly hope to read any book he’s recommended)
Well then I actually saw a piece of what he’d written about it, and how much the book means to him, how powerful it was to him as a child, how much he loves this book. And that made me instantly order it to Barnes & Noble.
And finally it came, and finally I bought it, and finally I had a free hour or so to read it. And it was great.
But it wasn’t life-changing to me in how it seemed to be to Neil Gaiman. Perhaps I needed to read it as a kid, or perhaps I read it in the wrong mood, but it just wasn’t as impactful as I expected it to be–as Gaiman’s own books are to me. Which is my own fault. I read Gaiman’s recommendation and put too high expectations on it.
All that said, I honestly did really enjoy it. One of the reason’s I love Gaiman so much is because of my love of fairy tale and dream-like stories and mythology, and this certainly had that. There was a magic to it that was incredibly appealing, and the way it was illustrated definitely added to that. Marc Simont did a fantastic job highlighting certain details of the story and enhancing the read. He simultaneously makes his illustrations for adults and kids equally, fun to experience and gorgeous to study.
I also loved the writing style–the syntax added to the fairy-tale aspect, allowing for a very poetic read., making me definitely interested in reading more of Thurber’s work.
So it didn’t mean as much to me as I wish it had, but it was full of alluring words and is definitely something I want to read with my kids–maybe it’ll be life-changing to them, and I can’t wait to find out.
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