Possibly the most unsettling fairy tale you’ll read all year, The Song of Aglaia is as feminist as it is iconoclastic. Simon’s scritch-scratch textures and kids’-book-gone-awry character designs provide a perfect vehicle for her exploration of the ways lust and — more upsettingly — love destroy our ideals.– “Vulture”
CBR15Passport Other country (from France)
Having had read the Anne Simon trilogy out of order (book three first, now book one The Song of Aglaia) book three makes more sense. In three we see the son that is born in book one. And how he became the potato head being he is, and the world he was raised in, but also the woman who was his mother well after her years of power.
At first, I liked Aglaia as she had some brass tacks to her. Standing up against her father and the establishment. But then she would change. She is a water nymph who is under the thumb of her father, who falls in love with a mermaid and a pregnancy results. Her father disowns her and she leaves her home saying she hates all men. But I am not sure the logic fits the rest of Aglaia’s story. Yes, the misogynistic rules she overturns (with the help of her odd assistant), makes sense, and even her obsession with taking lovers (and a particular one specifically), but the reversal of her feminist position (she will avenger her daughters, but up until then mostly having ignored them, but pamper her son (from a second lover, not her husband) to the point of becoming subservient to the boy) does not. However, there is mention of a war (that I am assuming book two deals with) that might have something to do with it. You never see the war, just that there was one. And as I knew book three, (and the start end papers have the characters) I am assuming the French fry women warriors/army has something to do with the change, but they are not in this book that I remember seeing.
I would have liked to have seen more of the Kings story before the events that bring Aglaia to power, though there is no question that he was a misogynistic a-hole prick, I just was curious about him (we see his reign mostly through comments, less through actions). This book runs quickly, jumping from event to event with few clues (such as infant to adult) really telling you time is passing. And with the catalyst that starts Aglaia to her ruling path, it happens in a way that it is almost a surprise that it happens. The awkward art and the abstract of everything is not for everyone. The publisher description has “Trippy, fine-lined ink drawings, with creatures looking like something out of The Yellow Submarine.” I could not have said it better. The character Christopher I think might have been directly taken from there. I am sure Jenna Allen has done her best to translate Simon’s text, but it is not an easy read due to the context.