Morbidly Beautiful

Your Home for Horror

Bloody Blog

Forbidden Door and Moon's Revenge

A review of The Forbidden Door by Marilee Heyer and The Moon’s Revenge by Joan Aiken, Illustrated by Alan Lee

Fan­ta­sy and hor­ror have always (in my mind) gone just as well togeth­er as hor­ror and sci­ence fic­tion. And while there’s plen­ty of films — Wil­low (1988) and Leg­end (1985) being the first that come to mind — who share strong veins of both fan­ta­sy AND hor­ror, there’s many books and book series as well, espe­cial­ly in the realm of pic­ture books and children’s lit­er­a­ture.

Grow­ing up, I loved fan­ta­sy and hor­ror in equal mea­sure. And, while the hor­ror genre has ulti­mate­ly come out on top, I still love fan­ta­sy and will read, watch or buy any­thing that com­bines fan­ta­sy with my favorite genre.

Forbidden Door

A few nights ago, I was struck by the image of a sea mon­ster loom­ing out of a froth­ing sea side bay, his green eyes star­ing down a small medieval ham­let sidled up to the bay. This image was, I knew, from a book that my mom had read to me when I was a kid. With this in mind, I asked her what its title was and if she could find it. She said she could and went direct­ly to her book case and began leaf­ing through var­i­ous bright­ly illus­trat­ed titles.

While she did this, I watched. It wasn’t long before anoth­er fan­ta­sy hor­ror book, whose cov­er I momen­tar­i­ly glimpsed, sparked anoth­er mem­o­ry of strange bird like crea­tures and a red-eyed mon­ster sil­hou­et­ted against a blood red moon. I grabbed the book, and it wasn’t long after that that the oth­er book I sent my mom on a quest for emerged from the book­case, too.

Moon's Revenge

Fol­low­ing this I read them both cov­er to cov­er and found not only inspi­ra­tion for the night­mares I would have for the next week, but for the top­ic of my next arti­cle. I hope you enjoy these two reviews. I also hope that, after you’ve fin­ished read­ing them, you go to your pub­lic library or book store and get them, read them and get scared by them.

The Forbidden Door by Marilee Heyer

Forbidden Door

The For­bid­den Door is a slim but lav­ish­ly illus­trat­ed and mas­ter­ful­ly told dark fairy tale that cen­ters around a beau­ti­ful young girl named Reena who lives with her fam­i­ly in a cave and who, after hear­ing a sto­ry of “the out­side” from her moth­er, endeav­ors to find “the out­side”.  Upon find­ing the out­side, Reena is faced with the task of defeat­ing a hor­rid mon­ster with the help of some strange look­ing bird­like crea­tures — the same mon­ster who drove her ances­tors into the caves in the first place and who now wish­es to keep her trapped for her beau­ty.

Forbidden Door

The sto­ry moves briskly but nev­er leaves the read­er feel­ing rushed. The brevi­ty of this fairy tale works in its favor, and its use of hot and cold show­ers, shift­ing from hor­ror to heart and back, keeps the sto­ry acces­si­ble.

The help­ful bird-like crea­tures depict­ed in the book are rem­i­nis­cent of Arent Van Bolten’s Grotesques, and the demons depict­ed in Matthias Grünewald’s paint­ing The Temp­ta­tion of Saint Antho­ny (some­times titled: Demons Armed with Sticks). The writ­ing evokes those great fairy tale tellers, the broth­ers Grimm (who real­ly WERE grim if you know what I mean).

Forbidden Door

The sto­ry is ele­gant in both its illus­tra­tions and writ­ing, and will be sure to leave a last­ing impres­sion on any read­er. Equal parts ter­ri­fy­ing and ten­der, The For­bid­den Door is sure to keep any read­er up at night.

Click here to pur­chase on Ama­zon. 

The Moon’s Revenge by Joan Aiken, Illustrated by Alan Lee

Moon's Revenge

The Moon’s Revenge is much more goth­ic and was admit­ted­ly not as well received as Mar­ilee Heyer’s The For­bid­den Door. Nev­er­the­less, it has gar­nered a con­sid­er­able amount of fans and praise, which is evi­dent by its Goodreads page. The main rea­son The Moon’s Revenge wasn’t as well received lies in the fact that many felt the plot didn’t match the sump­tu­ous and some­times scary illus­tra­tions (unlike Mar­ilee Heyer’s The For­bid­den Door).

I per­son­al­ly don’t feel this way and find the sto­ry and the accom­pa­ny­ing illus­tra­tions per­fect­ly matched in strength. Bear in mind, my per­cep­tion may be skewed from grow­ing up with this book and lov­ing it, but I hon­est­ly looked for incon­sis­ten­cies and found none.

Moon's Revenge

I will admit, how­ev­er, that The Moon’s Revenge (although a children’s book) is a lit­tle more advanced in its use of lan­guage and his­to­ry, so it may be bet­ter suit­ed to old­er chil­dren or those with an advanced vocab­u­lary and sense/appreciation for his­to­ry. What’s more, this book is also scari­er then The For­bid­den Door (I feel), and even at “calm” points The Moon’s Revenge main­tains a vale of unease — and sus­pense — around it.

Like The For­bid­den Door, the book also deals with a mon­ster — which is quite grue­some and looks like the sea mon­ster on the cov­er of Mys­te­ri­ous mon­sters: Real or Unre­al? by Jer­ry A Young — as well as ghosts, a haunt­ed house, and a wrath­ful moon.

Moon's Revenge

All in all, this book is well paced, and the nar­ra­tive moves nim­bly from page to page.

Click here to pur­chase this book on Ama­zon. 

That’s it dear read­ers! Until next time, keep look­ing under your bed and keep your sword at your side.


2 Records

Leave a Reply

Allowed tags:  you may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="">, <strong>, <em>, <h1>, <h2>, <h3>
Please note:  all comments go through moderation.