Ah, the human condition. Is there anything better to ponder? Thanks to all the creature comforts and interconnectedness of the modern world, it’s never been easier to feel completely isolated even when you’re in the middle of a crowd. Stories about existential crises are a dime a dozen, but for the ones that truly strike a chord and have something important to say, look no further than what the fine folks at Drawn & Quarterly are putting out. Last month, we celebrated their release of Michael Deforge’s excellent Ant Colony, and now we’re giddy with excitement over the twisted, dark, fantastical world of Fabien Vehlmann and Kerascoet’s Beautiful Darkness, a “dark fairy tale about surviving the human experience.”
What starts as an innocent tea party between our heroine Aurora and the Prince of her dreams quickly devolves into a bleak, base affair in which the evil that lurks under the surface of man roils, bubbles, and fulminates until it threatens to boil over. Set against the saccharine sweet storybook aesthetic of Kerascoet’s rapturous watercolors, Vehlmann’s narrative is a sinister saga that you won’t be able to put down, and to prove our point, we have an exclusive preview of the brand new book just for you:
Here’s the official description:
A DARK FAIRY TALE ABOUT SURVIVING THE HUMAN EXPERIENCE
Aurora’s having a tea party with Hector, the prince she’s been dreaming about, when a sudden deluge forces them to take shelter elsewhere. They emerge from the skull of a dead girl into the woods at night, and find themselves amongst a crowd of tiny people, all of whom are milling about. Aurora quickly takes charge of the situation, and at first things seem to be going well for most of her friends. Despite a few injuries and deaths and a lot of hunger, they forage successfully, and befriend a mouse that lives in the neighborhood. But as time goes by, more and more of the little people begin to lose hope, turning against one another in brutal ways.
Beautiful Darkness is a harrowing look at the human psyche and the darkness that hides behind the routine politeness and meaningless kindness of civilized society. The sweet faces and bright leaves of Kerascoet’s joyful watercolors only serve to highlight the evil which dwells beneath, as characters allow their pettiness, greed, and jealousy to take over. Beautiful Darkness presents a bleak allegory on the human condition; Kerascoet and Vehlman’s work is a searing condemnation of our vast capacity for evil writ tiny.
And here’s your exclusive preview:
Click to expand the thumbnails below.
Don’t take my word for it; here’s what Vehlmann and Kerascoet’s peers are saying about the book:
“A fairytale where the darkness is only natural: the real world of Beautiful Darkness not only includes but embraces decay, calm indifference, and animals who act like animals, just like life – and death. And neither its prince or princess are quite what we expect. Read it outdoors for maximum effect.”–Kathe Koja, author of The Cipher and Under the Poppy
“A brilliant premise executed with panache — Vehlmann and Kerascoët’s fairy world has the offhand cruelty of the Alice books and the offhand sweetness of Moominland — Donahey’s Teeny Weenies and The Borrowers can be felt here too — and yet it really it seems without precedent, every page a surprise in style and form and content.”–John Crowley, author of Little, Big and Aegypt
“Exactly what the title says it is. Stirred me up inside as the best fantasy should. Don’t expect to escape unscathed. Extraordinary and powerful.”–Paul Cornell, author of Demon Knights
“Puts you off your guard with a beguiling charm, then drags you down to places most horror stories shy away from. Astonishing.”–Mike Carey, The Unwritten
Not too shabby, eh? If you’re so inclined, you can pick up Beautiful Darkness from Drawn & Quarterly today at your local comic book shop.