Disclaimer: At Rhiannon Hart, we pride ourselves on providing our readers with thoughtful, objective reviews, presented in a calm and coherent manner. Unfortunately, this is not one of those times. Rhiannon Hart has lost her head. (But her heart will always belong to the Goblin King.)
I have gushed about my love for Labyrinth on previous posts, but let me say it again: I LOVE LABYRINTH. It's one of my favourite films of all time, highly influential in my work and utterly, utterly romantic, fantastic, beautiful and INCORRIGIBLE for it's heart-breaking ending. I swear that Labyrinth is single-handedly responsible for my total distrust of babies. When I found out a week ago that there was an official Henson-approved Manga series that is a sequel, called Return to Labyrinth, I couldn't get my hands on it fast enough. It arrived this morning at my office and I had to sit through a whole day staring at it's beautiful cover, dying for home time. Yes, I read it as I walked to my tram, on the tram, in the supermarket queue and all the way to my flat. I demolished its meagre 200 pages in about an hour and promptly ordered volumes two and three from Book Depository.
I am so happy! This is reading bliss! I have read tons of Labyrinth fan fiction (and even written some myself--there, I'm outed, you'll all read about it on Hey! Teenager of the Year in a day or so anyway so I'm just going to say it now: MY NAME IS RHIANNON AND I WROTE LABYRINTH FAN FICTION AS A TEENAGER!) but nothing compares with an official-honest-to-gods-written-edited-printed-hold-in-your-hands version. It feels real. It feels amazing. I'm currently breathing into a paper bag.
The cover, as you can see, is gorgeous. I would have loved to open the book and find similarly beautiful artwork, but obviously the production costs would have been phenomenal. Each volume retails for about AU/US$10, which is another reason I didn't think twice about ordering them. I skimmed the premise of each book on Wikipedia, and while the protagonist of these sequels is Toby and not Sarah, she does cameo in volume one, and has scenes with Jareth in later volumes. What more do I need to hear? Jareth and Sarah meet again!
The premise goes something like this: After Sarah's return from the Labyrinth, Jareth secretly names Toby his heir, as he has no child of his own. Throughout his life, Jareth has been a sort of fairy-godmother to Toby, giving him his heart's desire every time he says "I wish..." Toby, kept in the dark by his big sister, hasn't got any idea about the Labyrinth or Jareth, so when a goblin appears and steal his homework, he chases it and finds himself in a very odd place indeed.
There's a short overview of the film as a prologue, presented half as the Cinderella tale, and half as Sarah tells it to Toby when she's trying to make him stop crying at the start of the film: "...But what no one knew was that the King of the Goblins had fallen in love with the Princess and given her certain powers..."
The drawings are lovely, particularly the highly detailed chapter openers. There are many characters from the movie including Ludo, Sir Didymus, Ambrosius, Hoggle (now Prince of the Land of Stench, as Jareth promised) and the Fireys. The human characters themselves are highly simplified, and unfortunately Jareth suffers the most. There's nothing of Bowie about him and he resembles any generic Manga character. Sarah's in her twenties, wears glasses, and in opening sketches resembles Harry Potter. I hope she fares better in later volumes.
There's not a huge amount of meat to the story. It serves more to introduce new characters who will feature in later volumes, including the human girl masquerading as a goblin, Moppet, whom I suspect will become Toby's love interest. There's also Mikuza, Jareth's thwarted bride who is determined to win him back so her foul daughters can rule the Labyrinth, I presume.
Since reading Return to Labyrinth my two decades of Toby-hating have been curbed. I rather like his character in this series. Volume one was published in 2006 (twenty years after the film was released), volume two in 2008, volume three in May this year and volume four, the final installment, is to be published...? So far no date has been set, but all I can say is I better get my Jareth-and-Sarah happy ending soon because I'm not waiting another freaking twenty years to get it!
For die-hard fans. Particularly those with soft spot for romance and think that babies are far better off as goblins.