I actually read this weeks ago, but working in healthcare during a pandemic has meant that all of the free time that others are desperately trying to fill during isolation has gone up in smoke for me and has also rid my brain of any remotely intelligible thoughts, but I’ll give it a whirl.
The Book of Ballads and Sagas is a collaboration between Charles Vess and numerous other writers, such as Neil Gaiman, Jeff Smith, Sharyn McCrumb, Jane Yolen and others. Each writer takes on a telling of a folk tale or ballad – some tell them straight, others approach them from the perspectives of different characters within their tale, and others imagine what might have happened before, or after. Each of these is illustrated by Vess.
The black and white drawings were rather enticing to someone with a penchant for colouring in, but I managed to keep those tendencies reigned in throughout the reading – although I can’t say for certain whether they’ll still just be black and white by the time we’re finally allowed out into the world again.
I did find that I got more out of some tales than others, and preferred those that brought something new to the telling – Twa Corbies and The Great Selchie of Sule Skerrie were probably my favourites.
It is a rather slight read – I nailed it in under a couple of hours and I didn’t quite get out of it what I hoped – but would be a good diversion if you can’t take anything heavy right now or want something that you can dip in and out of while doing other things.