Two Hearts (Peter S. Beagle Short Story Review)

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Peter S. Beagle’s whimsical fantasy tale The Last Unicorn is a classic. It’s one of my favorite books of all time, so when The Shameful Narcissist recently read and provided a link to a short follow-up to the story, of course I was eager to return to Mr. Beagle’s rich and enchanting world of magicians, unicorns and other mythical beasts.

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The original tale is a clever and spellbinding journey all its own, so I was very hopeful that this newer adventure would be able to capture some of the magic woven in the first book. I was obviously hopeful, but I had to wonder, could Two Hearts manage to match the charm and whimsy of its legendary predecessor? Well, as Captain Cully would say: sit down, have a taco, and let’s talk about Two Hearts.

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Although this short story features multiple characters we came to love in The Last Unicorn, you may be surprised to learn that the main character is someone new entirely. Sooz, a young girl from a small village plagued by a child-eating griffin, is done waiting for the king to send more knights who all seem to fall prey to the very beast they’ve been sent to slay. She’s decided to take matters into her own hands and runs away from home to seek the king out for herself, to get his help specifically. Young Sooz, you see, has heard all about brave King Lir and the dragons and giants he’s slain, the impossible riddles he’s solved, and the maidens he’s saved.

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Unfortunately, no matter how noble the hero, the one thing they may never vanquish is time, and the king is now in the later years of his life, his mind often failing him. On her way to seek the king, Sooz befriends the infamous Molly Grue and Schmendrick the magician from the first tale. Although King Lir is frequent to forget and lose himself as he admits to Sooz, the mention of a familiar character always manages to bring him back, if even for only a matter of time.

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Lir’s bravery and kindness propel him to agree to help Sooz and her village, but will the best intentions of an aging hero be enough to finally bring an end to the griffin? You’ll have to find that one out for yourself. 😉

I will tell you, however, that Peter S. Beagle definitely captured the enchantment of his original tale once more, much to my delight. Especially in the last third or so of the story. We finally get to see what has become of the characters he introduced us to so many years ago, and he introduces us to a brave young girl who would do anything to protect those she cares for against a hungry monstrous creature. For fans of The Last Unicorn, I would definitely say this one is easily worth the read. I enjoyed it and it made me want to re-read the original book again.

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Barrier (Brian K. Vaughan’s New Mini-Series!)

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One of the comics I had been most excited to get my hot little hands on during Free Comic Book Day was the first issue to Brian K. Vaughan’s new miniseries, Barrier. I literally knew almost nothing about it other than that it is written by BKV, and that was good enough for me given how much I (along with the rest of the universe) have been loving Saga. ❤

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I started reading the first issue to Barrier this morning, assuming it would be a very quick read, and that I would soon be on my merry way doing other things with my day. Boy, was I wrong. This proved to be a much longer read, because I spent about half of it using Google’s translator so that I could understand all the parts in Spanish. Which is fine, I just wasn’t expecting it. And because I’m a Super Pal, I even wrote down the translations in case anyone else *cough cough Cupcakes and Machetes cough* or my boyfriend also wanted to read it, but didn’t feel like doing the leg work to translate it. 😛

(Or if any of you guys are planning on reading it and don’t want to go through and translate it yourself, let me know and I’ll hook you up!) 😉

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ANYWAY, onto the story itself. Barrier follows two main characters from two very different walks of life. On one hand, we have Liddy, an American rancher who feels threatened after finding one of her horse’s decapitated heads, skinned and missing its eyes. Talk of “El Chupacabra” and even UFO-related cattle mutilations is quickly dismissed by Liddy who is confident that this is a warning from the cartel that plans on using her land to run their drugs. On edge, she begins exploring her options to protect her land, her animals, and herself. Our other main character, Oscar, is a Honduran young man who is attempting to make his way over the border into the United States. We don’t learn a whole lot about him in the first issue, but we do get a hint that he has something very important in his notebook, and that he may know more about what’s really going on than it originally seems.

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The two cross paths on Liddy’s property when Oscar is injured and she is armed and ready to shoot as their respective languages create a barrier (heh, I see what they did there) between them. Just then, SOMETHING pretty crazy happens, but we’ll leave that on a fairly vague note. Let’s just say, that I am definitely ready to check out the rest of this miniseries that will be released in single issues throughout the month of May in five total installments. 🙂

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I look forward to seeing these two characters forced together by bizarre circumstances will interact with one another, how they will be able to communicate, and what is going to happen to them. I also want to learn more about what Oscar seems to know already. Brian K Vaughn is amazing at creating characters who you want to keep reading about, so I am really looking forward to seeing what he does with Liddy and Oscar the more we get to know them. Marcos Martin (the artist) and Munsta Vicente (the colorist) do a great job bringing the story to life with their illustrations and vivid colors, from the characters themselves to the rough landscapes. I can’t wait to see what they do in the next installments since I think things are really about to take a turn for the crazy.

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I know some people may be put off by not being able to understand part of the dialogue if they don’t speak Spanish or are unwilling to look up translations, but I think the language barrier actually adds to this story. BKV knows what he’s doing as a writer, so I trust what he has in mind for this project. Blending science fiction with the often-debated topic of immigration, I think we’re in for a really interesting story. Like Saga, this one is for mature readers only. I heard some parents getting pretty heated during Free Comic Book Day because there’s some adult content in this, so just something to keep in mind. This one is not intended for the kiddos! 😉

Monstress, Vol. 2: The Blood (Review)

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How the heck did I forget to review this one after I read it way back in August?? I’m seriously stumped on this one, but I guess I’m gonna have to chalk it up to what my boyfriend and I refer to as “squirrel brain”. After reading and reviewing the first volume of Monstress, I had been really excited about getting to learn more about the dark and intriguing war-torn world and story of our protagonist, Maika Halfwolf. The artwork in volume 2 is just as gorgeous and detailed as that of volume 1 and the story drew me in right off the bat. In fact, I think I may have enjoyed volume 2 even more than I did the first one, and that’s saying something because I absolutely loved volume 1.

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As I mentioned in my review for volume 1, this is a story that unravels bit by bit and often leaves the reader with a lot of questions. Volume 2 follows Maika and her companions as they do whatever it takes to learn the truth regarding her past.

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Aaaaand we get pirates this go around, so if you already weren’t on board, get your butts in gear, people!

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Oh, and did I mention there are UNICORNS?!?!

As I’ve talked about before, Monstress is a very dark story with lots of violence and lots of swearing. That isn’t something that bothers me, but it’s just something I like to forewarn people about since I know some people are sensitive to it and whatnot.

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Maika Halfwolf, our protagonist and resident potty mouth.

I’d previously gushed about how much I enjoyed the worldbuilding in volume 1, and volume 2 simply expands on that, making me love it all the more. I’ve seriously never seen this level of worldbuilding in comic-form before and it just continues to blow me away. I can’t wait to see what volume 3 will bring to the table. 🙂

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Seconds: A Review

Full Disclaimer: I had no idea what to expect when reading this other than that it was by Bryan Lee O’Malley and thus required reading.

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He did not let me down!

This was a charming story that used old folklore but gave it a modern and fun spin.
The artwork is adorable and the characters and their interactions were great.

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Most of the characters in front of the titular restaurant. Hazel (the girl on the far left) is by far my favorite, but I liked the others as well.


I think it’s safe to say that we’ve all had days we wish we could just re-do and pretend never happened. Well, for Katie, our sassy and career-driven protagonist (the girl with the red spiky hair pictured above), this becomes a totally feasible option thanks to some magic mushrooms (no, not THOSE kind of magic mushrooms), a notepad, and some old magic involving her home/workplace. But sometimes quick fixes are all too easy to abuse and Katie’s tale winds up taking a darker tumble down the rabbit hole than we expected.
The further you get into the story the more eager you find yourself flipping to the next page and the next page and so on.

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