Down the Rabbit Hole
Aurora is a tiny, blond forest fairy in a polka-dot dress, and as BEAUTIFUL DARKNESS (Drawn & Quarterly, $22.95) begins, she’s spiffing herself up for a tea party with her boyfriend. Marie Pommepuy and Fabien Vehlmann’s story, though, immediately shifts its focus to the crawling terror on the underside of fairy tales’ gentility. The wee creatures’ woodland antics are taking place next to the decaying corpse of a little human girl; the berries and dewdrops they collect are barely staving off their hunger, and the forest’s scurrying animals are more likely to maul and devour them than to offer aid. Pommepuy and Sébastien Cosset, who draw collaboratively under the name Kerascoët, render Aurora and her friends in the huge-eyed style of classic children’s book illustrations, but cuteness is just another Darwinian survival strategy here. Even on her clover-high scale, as Aurora discovers, romance is decided by social pecking order and murderous deceit.