Books of Magic No. 5 review: “A Twist In The Narrative”


Universes intertwine in the latest Books of Magic

If you’re a fan of mind-bending, reality-swirling, dream-traversing fantasy tales based on one of the most famous comics ever written, then Books of Magic is definitely your cup of tea. Set in the Sandman universe and created by Neil Gaiman back in the nineties, this tale follows Timothy Hunter, a young boy that prophecies claim will be one of the greatest magicians ever to live. Written by Kat Howard, drawn by Tom Fowler, colored by Jordan Boyd, lettered by Todd Klein, with a cover by Kai Carpenter, this is one of four new Sandman stories; Lucifer, House of Whispersand The Dreaming are the other three comics, each worth a read, as well. All their stories have something to do with Dream of the Endless, an anthropomorphic personification of the concept of dreams, which is a doozy of an idea in the first place. Tim Hunter has recently entered The Dreaming in search of answers about his nightmares, which causes him to encounter the happenings of the most recent issue of The Dreaming.

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How to find magic books in Books of Magic

Last issue, Tim Hunter decided he needed to go to the source to stop his bad dreams, so he traveled to The Dreaming via his newfound magic. Now that he’s there, things don’t quite look right, which is due to a gigantic power struggle that recently concluded over in The Dreaming. Tim makes his way to the palace of Dream, where he discovers Eve, mother of Cain and Abel, filling in for Lucien the Librarian, who is off on a quest with Dora (you’ll have to check out The Dreaming for more details). He asks for help finding a certain book of magic, and she lays a trip on him: what appears to be the truth of a story might not be the true story. In relating the classic tale of Cain and Abel, Tim believes that Cain is the first killer, but Eve reveals that Abel slit the lamb’s throat before fratricide occurred, making him the first killer after all. This helps Tim to realize truth is in the perception of things, which is a big nudge to the reader to think critically.

Vertigo Comics

A nice chat with an insane all-powerful being

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As Tim leaves the palace, he ends up finding the newly born Endless, which may or may not be totally insane, taking the form of a fuzzy moth/child, sitting on Dream’s throne. They talk about magic and reading books, and the Endless lets Tim keep the book he pulled off the shelves, which is sure to be a big deal in later issues. Tim interprets what the Endless tells him to mean that he can just hang out in The Dreaming for a while, without consequences, so he does. Back on Earth, the bully that’s always picking on Tim agrees to help the evil librarian make Tim use magic for nefarious ends, and the librarian traps the girl who Tim likes in the pages of a book. Corny, but effective. Tim is lying around, listening to Cain and Abel tell stories, when he discovers that he has been gone from reality for several days, causing him to flee, while Cain and Abel are revealed to be the monsters working for Judge Gallows (another reference to The Dreaming). 

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Tim runs into Matthew the Raven, Dream’s longtime friend, who tells Tim to trust his owl, Yo-Yo, to help find the way out of The Dreaming. Tim thanks him and departs, and Matthew utters an ominous warning about needing luck. Watching the stories from these separate comics finally come together has been an absolute treat, and as time goes by, we’ll hopefully get to see the full integration of all four comics, which will be a masterful play by any standards. Rich, vivid coloring and fantastical imagery make Books of Magic well worth the read, not even counting the plot, which tells a tale of growth, perspective, and courage. 8.7/10, recommended. Let us know what you thought in the comments section below.