Review: Other Ever Afters: New Queer Fairy Tales
by Melanie Gillman. Random House Graphic, September 2022. 240 p. ill. ISBN: 978-0593303191 (h/c), $24.99.
Melanie Gillman’s latest effort is a young adult graphic collection of short fairy tales titled Other Ever Afters. These stories include a diverse cast of characters with themes of sacrifice and authenticity throughout. Included in this collection are fables like that of the princess who was bewitched by the goose girl, the fiancée who summoned the goddess of mishaps to sabotage her betrothal, the knight searching for an object of their fealty, and more.
Gillman’s masterful colored pencil illustrations are on full display throughout, and their modern myths feel both familiar and novel. The color palette changes depending on the setting and mood. In “The Goose Girl”, scenes switch from a luxurious castle to a peasant farm, from day to dusk to midnight, and Gillman’s characters are immediately recognizable, no matter the setting.
Gillman also plays with perspective in “Sweet Rock.” The narrator of this account has been selected as the annual sacrifice for the Giantess in the cavern. When they first meet, the narrator points out, “The Giantess is too big to see all at once” and that is how Gillman draws her: each panel that depicts the Giantess only depicts a part of her. These illustrations add up to a seemingly impossibly-large character; an effective choice by the artist.
Other Ever Afters is Gillman’s third solo graphic novel and their first short story collection. This title would be an excellent addition to any library and should be considered essential for collections with an emphasis on queer and transgender narratives, especially in young adult literature.
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