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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dark, rich and deep; evocative of the Scottish islands in which the tale is set., 17 Jun 2014
This review is from: The Truth Is a Cave in the Black Mountains (Hardcover)
The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains, written by Neil Gaiman and illustrated by Eddie Campbell, is neither pure prose nor a graphic novel. It is a story with pictures, unlike any other that I have come across before. Both the language and artwork are dark, rich and deep; evocative of the Scottish islands in which the tale is set. It moved me in a way that unsettled yet delighted; brutal, mystical, a parable for our time.

I do not read e-books. I have no problem if others choose to consume their literature in this way but, for me, there is something special in holding a physical book. The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountain is a thing of tactile beauty, a book that deserves time and appreciation for so much more than the tale which it tells. Some pages have few words, the artwork saying all that is needed to draw the reader in. Other pages paint the pictures with prose that is sparse yet efficacious. The occasional use of comic strips is effective proof that this medium should not be casually dismissed.

The book is a story of two men on a journey, strangers travelling to a cave filled with cursed treasure to which only one knows the way. It is a tale of greed and survival, but conveys so much more. At its heart is loss, a tragedy, a desire for revenge, and the ultimate shallowness of achieving that for which we yearn.

It will not take long to read, but expect what unfolds to remain as the contents are pondered over time. It is a book that should be read, reread, flicked through and discussed with others. It has touched me in a way that few books do, an assault on the mind and the senses, powerful, harsh, but above all alluring.

My copy of this book was provided gratis by the publisher, Headline.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "...and that way is treacherous and hard", 14 July 2014
By 
FictionFan (Kirkintilloch, Scotland) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: The Truth Is a Cave in the Black Mountains (Hardcover)
"You ask me if I can forgive myself? I can forgive myself for many things. For where I left him. For what I did. But I will not forgive myself for the year that I hated my daughter..."

So starts this dark tale of a journey, a quest into the Black Mountains to find a cave - to find the truth. Our narrator is a small man, a dwarf, but he's strong and he's driven; by what, we don't yet know but we feel a slow anger in him, an undiminished determination despite his ten year search for the object of his obsession. As we meet him, he is about to hire a guide, Calum MacInnes, to take him to a cave on the Misty Isle which is reputed to be filled with gold...

This book is nothing less than stunning. Gaiman's wonderfully dark story is equalled and enhanced by the amazingly atmospheric illustrations of Eddie Campbell. The two elements - words and pictures - are completely entwined. There's no feeling of the one being an addition to the other - each is essential and together they form something magical. The tale is by turns moving, mystical, dramatic, frightening; and the illustrations, many of them done in very dark colours, create a sense of mirky gloom and growing apprehension and, as the story darkens, some of the later pictures are truly macabre and unforgettable.

Gaiman was apparently inspired to write the story by his visits to the Isle of Skye and the legends of the Hebrides. While the pictures quite clearly place the story in the Highlands - the kilts, the purples and greens, the blackness of the mountains - Gaiman has very wisely steered clear of any attempt to 'do' dialect. The book is written in standard English, but with the lush layering of traditional legends and with a rhythm in the words that really calls for it to be read aloud. Perhaps this isn't surprising since the story was originally devised to be read by Gaiman himself at the Sydney Opera House with Campbell's illustrations projected as a backdrop. I was the lucky, lucky recipient of a hardback copy of the book, but apparently the Kindle Fire edition has audio and video links, though to what I don't know. However, the book is so beautiful that, devoted though I am to my Kindle, this is one where I would strongly recommend the paper version.

All the way through, the story is foreshadowing the eventual end as if to suggest that all things are fore-ordained. It's well worth reading the book twice in fact (it's only 73 pages) - the first reading has all the tension of not knowing how it ends, while the second reading allows the reader to see how carefully Gaiman fits everything together to create the folk-tale feeling of inevitability. And then read it again a third time, just because it's wonderful. I end where I began - stunning!

NB This book was provided for review by the publisher, Headline.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fireside dark storytelling rendered even more magical, 15 July 2014
By 
This review is from: The Truth Is a Cave in the Black Mountains (Hardcover)
"I am old now, or at least, I am no longer young, and everything I see reminds me of something else I've seen, such that I see nothing for the first time. A bonny girl, her head fiery-red, reminds me only of another hundred such lasses, and their mothers, and what they were as they grew, and what they looked like when they died. It is the curse of age, that all things are reflections of other things"

Fabulous weaver of weird and wonderful stories for adults and children Neil Gaiman wrote this short story/novella The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains, which was published in a collection of creepy dark stories: Stories: All New Tales, by Headline, back in 2010.

Then this story by Gaiman developed another life, when he was invited to read his story aloud, and with projected artwork by Eddie Campbell, with a musical underscore by FourPlay String Quartet at the graphic Festival at Sydney Opera House.

Now Headline have reduced the experience back down to the individual reading experience - a book, a story on the page, that artwork, condensed into a wonderful weaving of seductive and dark words, sensuous and sometimes scary images, and the tactile experience of silky, glossy pages, hardcover, slightly textured titling. The book as craft, art, and beautiful object as well as wondrous words and a story like some well-honed myth, handed down through generations.

This is a journey through the Highlands, a journey made by two stern men, both with hidden secrets. The un-named narrator is a small fierce man. His companion, Calum MacInnes, is a tall, gaunt one. And there appears to be distrust of the other, from both sides, as they set out to find hidden gold which may be cursed

Artist Eddie Campbell's artworks are gorgeous, and varied in style, ranging from graphic, solid broad-brush stroked figures which are almost cartoon in simplicity, to some lovely part-shaded, part outline, suggestions of shapes, which appear to flicker out from misty, pastel backgrounds. I particularly like the fact that the textured background Campbell must originally have used is visible, a wash across all pages, so that the use of colour is subtle and varied.

This is really not a book to get on ereader - the subtlety of texture, the vibrancy of colour and shape need to be appreciated in the larger size of a book's pages.

I was extremely fortunate to be offered this by Headline, as a review copy.

My only regret is that I missed knowing about this book till a few days after Neil Gaiman, Eddie Campbell and Foursquare repeated the performed event of the story. Seeing these illustrations stage sized, having the author read his tale aloud and with the underscore, sitting rapt with others whilst this played out, must have been a magnificent occasion
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dark and Beautiful, 17 Jun 2014
This review is from: The Truth Is a Cave in the Black Mountains (Hardcover)
Thank you to Headline for providing me with a copy of this book

I have never read a book quite like this and to be honest it is extremely unlikely I will again, The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains is a beautiful book, I was lucky enough to see the hardback version and it is just divine.

Neil Gaiman who some of you may know as the author of Stardust, American Gods and many others initially released the text from this book back in 2010 but he has now come together with illustrator Eddie Campbell to produce a really dark magical story, I toyed with the idea of reading it with my oldest daughter whose is seven but at the last minute decided to savour it all by myself, I am glad as it may have been a little dark for her young tastes, saying that she is obsessesed with finding out about Macbeth so maybe I should have!

The story is set in the highlands of my beautiful country Scotland back in what felt like Jacobite times, men still wear kilts and women do what they are told, both text and illustration takes us on the journey of a man who is different to everyone else, he is a dwarf, he takes a journey with his sought out companion to find the mysterious Misty Isle and the cave that is hidden shrouded in the gloom and is said to hold riches, their path ahead is fraught with dangers both human and not so.

The two companions make an unlikely pairing but will they succeed in their journey and will the cave hold what they have been seeking?

This book has been inspired by the beautiful and magical island of Skye a place I have been lucky enough to visit several times, the illustrations that appear on every page truly add to the story bringing to life the dark haunting journey of these two men and who and what they meet on their way to the Misty Isle.

A gorgeous dark read.

Awarded 5 out of 5
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4.0 out of 5 stars Gaiman is a master storyteller, 18 July 2014
This review is from: The Truth Is a Cave in the Black Mountains (Hardcover)
I decided to give this book a go as I fell in love with Gaiman's style last year when I read The Ocean at the End of the Lane. I am unfamiliar with his other works, including the original anthology in which this short story originates, so I came to it with fresh eyes, and seeing the illustrations as quite separate from the story.

Firstly, I love Gaiman's writing style; evocative, detailed, often wispy and very well constructed. If you take a moment to read aloud his words, you'll find they simply take on a form of themselves.

But saying that, I found the story a little hard to get into - all rather flat and meandering. Despite its short length, it did actually pick up in the middle, with themes of regret, loss and grief leading into revenge and a harrowing climax is sure to follow; as the title surely reveals - The truth is a cave in the black mountains. It is certainly worth a read, and great for any lover of illustrated stories.

I must say though that I disliked a lot of the pictures that accompany the book. It is all rather niche-y and may not appeal to most.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting presentation and a haunting tale, 20 July 2014
This review is from: The Truth Is a Cave in the Black Mountains (Hardcover)
This is a lovely book, the pages, binding, cover and art all remind us why there is still a place for hardcover books, and that there are things which e-books cant replicate - although they of course have other different possibilities.

This is a tale in true Gaiman style, somewhat dark, haunting, thought provoking... And above all interesting. I love the combination of writing and pictorial story telling - the comic or graphic novel meets the conventional novel - it works very well.

It is a story of two travellers on a quest, but things are not what they seem, and the reader will visit the dark places and remember them long after the book is finished.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Haunting and gripping and well worth your time!, 7 July 2014
I am not long back from the Usher Hall, where I was lucky enough to experience this tale performed by Neil Gaimen, accompanied by the gorgeous visuals of Eddie Campbell and the unearthly score from FourPlay (am amazing string quartet from Australia...check out their music if you get the chance, it is truly evocative). The event took my breath away and I hope a DVD is released at some point, or preferably, another live tour. As this was the last date on the tour however, I would highly recommend this book, along with the audio book, so you can listen to Mr Gaimens dulcet tones and immerse yourself in the artwork and eeries sounds.

If your budget does not stretch to both, then your preferred method of literary consumption should dictate your purchase choice. I am addicted to audio books, especially if read by Gaimen. During the performance, I also found my attention focused on the sounds over the visuals. That being said, the visuals were expertly rendered with the Scottish colour palette and almost minimalist in design. They definitely added to the overall impact of the story.

Spoiler free: The story is linked with Scottish island mythos and legend. We follow a diminutive stranger and his guide on a quest to find the titular black mountain cave. This is a perilous journey and as the protagonists progress, the intricacies of the plot unravel around them. If you have read anything by Mr Gaimon, then you understand how complex and obscure his characters tend to be, with more and more details unfolding the longer you spend with them.

I was gripped from start to finish and believe whichever of the options you choose, you will be in for a treat.
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1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Darkly magnificent, 20 Jun 2014
By 
Jasper (Manchester) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Truth Is a Cave in the Black Mountains (Hardcover)
This is a bold, dark swirl of a story, set in an evocatively presented Scotland where the setting greatly influences the storytelling. It is unlikely most people will have encountered much like this before. It is certainly a groundbreaking mixture from what I can see.

As the story is nearly five years old, this edition is warranted by captivating illustrations that beautifully compliment the prose. This is a dark silky beast of a tale, and I'd urge you to get the hardback as the edition is simply lush.

For a lighter taste of darkness try the hilariously macabre Sherlock Holmes and the Flying Zombie Death Monkeys. Deranged, amusing and a little mad. Hard not to like it.
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The Truth Is a Cave in the Black Mountains
The Truth Is a Cave in the Black Mountains by Neil Gaiman (Hardcover - 17 Jun 2014)
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