I really cannot be unbiased about this work, because it is by one of my great influences, Tim Burton. I absolutely love his best work - the dark fairy tales, such as 'Beetlejuice' and 'Sleepy Hollow' - especially my favourite animated movie of all time (alongside Aladdin, that is), 'Nightmare Before Christmas'. I bought this book for that name. The content is exactly what I wished for - an eclectic group of disfunctional gothic characters, that while creepy, are sincerely endearing. The stories of these doomed children are of misfortune, each due to a unique hamartia, a fundamental fault (for example, Stain Boy, whose disadvantage is pretty self-explanatory - I should add that he is now the titular character in a series of animated shorts on the website AtomFilms). Each tragic tale is written in the form of rhyming verse, and each poem paints a truly disturbing vignette of a character that you will either deeply empathise with, or find vehemently repulsive (it is an odd combination that Burton pulls of effortlessly). Many might consider the work allegorical, highlighting the burden of idiosyncratic flaws that ail the outsiders of human society - others will just relish the sinister humour, sympathetic care and fervent artistry of the writing and illustrations. The verse is well-crafted, and the watercolour paintings of the poor ailed children are evocative and deliciously haunting. I'd recommend this to any Burton fan, both adults, and children that like a bit of light-hearted horror (as I did as a child, loving 'Nightmare Before Christmas' so much in my early years). I reluctantly drop one point due to the fact that its very short, and probably not something for every mood. Also, people who don't share a delight for Burton's vision of the gloomy fairy tale should probably give this a miss. For the rest of us, this is a highly enjoyable read that will please on many levels.
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