Review: The One Hundred Nights of Hero

The One Hundred Nights of Hero by Isabel Greenberg
224 pages
Published by Little, Brown and Company, 2016
Genre: Fantasy, graphic novel
Re-readability: I might revisit this one someday
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed by Pete
Spoiler-free review

In the Empire of Migdal Bavel, Cherry is married to Jerome, a wicked man who makes a diabolical wager with his friend Manfred: if Manfred can seduce Cherry in one hundred nights, he can have his castle–and Cherry.

But what Jerome doesn’t know is that Cherry is in love with her maid Hero. The two women hatch a plan: Hero, a member of the League of Secret Story Tellers, will distract Manfred by regaling him with a mesmerizing tale each night for 100 nights, keeping him at bay. Those tales are beautifully depicted here, touching on themes of love and betrayal and loyalty and madness.

As intricate and richly imagined as the works of Chris Ware, and leavened with a dry wit that rivals Kate Beaton’s in Hark! A Vagrant, Isabel Greenberg’s One Hundred Nights of Hero will capture readers’ hearts and minds, taking them through a magical medieval world.

From the publisher

After flipping through the first couple of pages of this charming graphic novel at my local library, I was hooked. Greenberg’s illustration style, paired with her simple and captivating storytelling, made for a magical myth in the style of One Thousand and One Nights

This is a story about stories, but its frame-story structure is not a gimmick. Greenberg has a natural talent for crafting tidy packages of adventure, mystery, and sorrow that could stand easily on their own. Despite the classic setup, there are few clichés or tropes to be found. I savored every story, just as Hero’s audience did.

I’ve been reading graphic novels before bed lately, and this was by far my most enjoyable evening read yet. The subject matter is often far from light, dealing with an oppressive yet familiar patriarchy and plenty of abusive men. But its unwaveringly courageous attitude is inspiring and uplifting, and it left me feeling like I’d just sat through a powerful performance in an intimate theater.

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