Fables: Werewolves in the Heartland by Bill Willingham

Trying something new….

Fables: Werewolves in the Heartland
by Bill Willingham
ISBN: 9781401224790
Pages: 152
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Acquired galley from Edelweiss 


Bigby Wolf has left Fabletown in search of a place to relocate the Fable city. He finds a seemingly idyllic spot; Story City, a small town in the Heartland.


Bigby has left the warmth and comfort of his home with Snow White and the “pups” to find a new location for Fabletown, the secret enclave of fairytale and folk tale characters living in New York. He has wandered far and wide for the perfect, secluded spot. Story City has ties to Bluebeard, rich fairy tale character who met his untimely demise early in the Fables series, so he sets out there to see what’s what. There, he finds something a little unexpected. A society of werewolves, headed up by an old wartime buddy Bigby thought long dead. And the Nazi woman whom they were trying to kill.


The characters are great. It was good to see Bigby again; he’s been gone too long from the Fables universe. He is probably my favorite fable from the series! From his Sheriff/detective noirish days, I’ve had a thing for him. I liked the way the story in the present – the search for a new Fabletown – tied into Bigby’s past. The introduction of his buddy for WWII was interesting. It really brought more to Bigby’s characterization. I’ve always wanted to know more about Bigby’s WWII activities. Well, we got it!


  • Liked the story.
  • Bigby’s back! Yay!
  • The art was good. No, great. I always love the art in Fables.
  • Strong plot.
  • Highlights are learning more about Bigby’s life.


  • Didn’t like all the nudity? Not a prude, really, but wow. That was a lot of full frontal.
  • You may not like this if you don’t like nudity! And violence.


A solid spin-off of the Fables canon. Glad to see something this strong take Jack’s place (Jack of Fables seems to have reached a conclusion?) and glad to see it finally come out! Have had it pre-ordered for like a year!

Capricious Reader Wants This


If you’ve been around here any length of time, you know I adore the graphic novel series FABLES, by Bill Willingham. If you haven’t read them yet, what the heck are you waiting for?


Two years ago, I read Willingham’s first “novel” novel, Peter & Max and I really loved it. I even got my hubby to read it and he loved it too! And that NEVER happens. So, when I saw someone was reading DOWN THE MYSTERLY RIVER the other day on Twitter, I just about fell out of my chair! And then promptly looked it up.

Max “the Wolf” is a top-notch Boy Scout, an expert at orienteering, and a master of being prepared. So it is a little odd that he suddenly finds himself, with no recollection of his immediate past, lost in an unfamiliar wood. Even odder still, he encounters a badger named Banderbrock, a black bear named Walden, and McTavish the Monster (who might also be an old barn cat) — all of whom talk—and who are as clueless as Max.

Before long, Max and his friends are on the run from a relentless group of hunters and their deadly hounds. Armed with powerful blue swords and known as the Blue Cutters, these hunters capture and change the very essence of their prey. For what purpose, Max can’t guess. But unless he can solve the mystery of the strange forested world he’s landed in, Max may find himself and his friends changed beyond recognition, lost in a lost world. . . .

Down the Mysterly River is the children’s book debut of Bill Willingham, the creator of the #1 New York Times bestselling graphic novel series Fables. Complete with illustrations by Fables artist Mark Buckingham, it is a spirited, highly original tale of adventure, suspense, and everlasting friendship.

“Willingham’s Fables comics tapped into the deep fairy-tale structures in my psyche and never let go. Now Down the Mysterly River finally delivers the same opportunity for younger readers. Lucky them!” —Cory Doctorow, New York Times bestselling author of Little Brother

Yep. I gotta have it. As soon as it is published, it will be mine. I think I’ll go ahead and preorder it. Like, right now.

Peter & Max


I bet you figured I would read this book. If you knew about it anyway. I love, love, love the Fables comics and graphic novels, so I pre-ordered this book as soon as I heard about it.  And, big surprise, I loved this too!

Peter & Max is the first novel Bill Willingham has written set in the Fables universe. (I think it may be his first novel novel too, but I’m not 100% sure about that).

The novel starts out with Peter and Max and their family of traveling musicians.  If you didn’t guess from the cover, with that creepy looking piper, one of these guys is the Pied Piper of Hamelin. That isn’t the only Fable touched on here.  Peter is married to Bo Peep!  And like the Fables Graphic Novels, this novel is rich in folklore, fantasy, and art; it’s a wonderful amalgamation of them all.    It’s a tale of jealousy. Betrayal.  And revenge.  The narrative travels back and forth between present day America and medieval times.  Max believes that their father committed a terrible wrong to him and he plans to make Peter pay for it.    Peter Piper is hunting his older brother Max to put an end to their bitter rivalry, once and for all.

You do not need to have read the GNs to enjoy this book; it can definitely stand alone.  If you have, it’s a rich, textured tale that brings in several beloved characters from the comics and makes for an enthralling read.   If you haven’t read them, it’s a good introduction or, if you haven’t read them because you don’t like to read comics, well, there are only illustrations here.  It’s a straight up novel, an enjoyable novel, one that I highly recommend.

Kailana of The Written World and I both read this at the same time, so we decided to review it together.  What follows is the second half of our conversation about it.  See her blog for the first half and here for the second, as we discuss the book, Fables, and our opinions about both.  She is the black text, I am the red text.

K: Yeah, the flutes are a good touch. Two piper brothers, but one was good and one wasn’t. Max was written very well. He was the ‘bad’ brother and you could really believe it. He wasn’t so crazy that it didn’t make any sense. Then, Peter was a sweet kid, but he wasn’t an angel. Having him and Bo be big readers was a really fun idea, too. It didn’t necessarily play a big role, but just having it mentioned was a nice touch! The inclusion of familiar characters worked well, too. By having the two main characters be ones that have never been mentioned before, this book wasn’t really a spoiler for those that haven’t read all the graphic novels. I hope, though. that if he writes more books in this format they will build on some of the characters we have seen all ready.

H: I really liked Bo and Peter.  I liked that she was the one who became an assassin!  And that Peter became the master thief.  And Max was an excellent bad guy.  His *costume* choices cracked me up.  I agree though, I would love to have a back-story type of book about one of the more familiar characters to those of us who have read the GNs. I know Bigby has his own GN mini-series coming up and so does Cinderella, but, I don’t know, someone like Rose Red, or Boy Blue, or even Flycatcher would be so great I think, to have their own spin-off novel.

I didn’t know about the Bigby and Cinderella stories. That’s very cool! I love anything to do with Willingham and his books, so I don’t really think I would be unhappy about anything that he does. What was your favourite scene from the book?

Oh wow, that’s a hard one. There are so many that were interesting.  I really liked when Bigby was after Peter and Max in the Black Forest.  I liked the first time Max and Peter played their flutes against each other.  I liked the scene where Bo hides in the pumpkin.  But my favorite, or, at least the very first scene that came to my mind, so apparently has stuck with me, is when the witch is walking through the woods with that goat and those knights come up and kill it.  Whatever that thing was that escaped the goat’s body has irked me, because we are not told what, or who, it is.  My husband and I have discussed it and my theory is that it’s Mr. Dark from the new arc in the comics.  He doesn’t think so, but he doesn’t know what it was either.  I hope it comes up again, either in the GNs or a book, because it really bugs me!!

What do you think it was?

I have no idea! It is just one of those things, I guess. It is obviously something evil that the witch has tried to capture, so I would say Mr. Dark. Otherwise, it must be something that hasn’t been shown yet, but I think he would have explained it more if it was new. That being said, the books are written so that if you haven’t read the graphic novels you can still read this book. I guess when it comes down to it I really have no idea what it is! Any of the scenes with my witch are my favourite, though. She’s a great character and I always think she is written so well. One minute she is all hunched up in her rocking chair knitting, but then next thing you know she is fighting evil. She is rather complex, so I enjoy her. The scene in the pumpkin was one of my favorites, too!

I really like the witch too. She’s so ambiguous; I know she’s supposed to be “good” now, helping Fabletown and all after the amnesty, but somehow, deep down, I think she’s not entirely as good as she lets on.  Like she’s only their for her own interests, whatever they may be.  Maybe Willingham should write a book or GN about her next!

I really did enjoy this book.  I think most anyone would enjoy it and could even be a good introduction to the Fables world.  Here’s hoping there will be more!

Oh, yes, a book on the witch would be really great! I really enjoyed this, too, and recommend it! I can’t wait until more!

Peter & Max
Written by: Bill Willingham
With illustrations by Steve Leialoha
Publisher and Date: Vertigo Comics, 2009
Hardcover: 368 pages
Bill Willingham on Twitter

Other Peter & Max links:

the book’s website
excerpt from the book (PDF link)
excerpt (chapter 1) (PDF link)
excerpt (chapter 2) (PDF link)

Author also wrote:

Too much to name!  Just look up Bill Willingham on Amazon or some other bookstore, you’ll get a ton of hits.

Also Reviewed by:

I can’t seem to find any by bloggers. If you have reviewed it, let me know and I’ll add you!

I am a Book Depository Affiliate and will make a very small profit if you buy a book through one of my links.

I received this book from Amazon.  When I bought it. For myself.

Forgotten Friday – Fables: Volume 9 – Sons of Empire


Title: Fables: Volume 9 – Sons of Empire
Written by Bill Willingham, James Jean, Mike Allred, Joelle Jones
Paperback: 200 pages
Publisher: Vertigo (June 6, 2007)
Rating: 4/5
Bought from Amazon

It will be particularly difficult to review this book, as it is 1) Volume 9 of a series and 2) quite pivotal as well.  If you don’t know anything about the Fables graphic novels, the gist of it is that the Fables of old are real and they live in New York.  They have been forced into exile by the evil, blood-thirsty Adversary who has conquered their lands and forced them to flee into ours.  Fables like Snow White, the Big Bad Wolf, Rose Red, and Pinocchio as well as many, many, even obscure ones are among the refuges.

Through the previous volumes, we’ve come to know many of the Fables, popular and obscure, better through their memories, their actions, their alliances and their battles.  Now, the time approaches when the Fables will take up arms against the Adversary.  Also in this volume, we see Bigby and Snow, with their family; make the journey to the north to visit with Bigby’s father, the North Wind.

I can’t tell you how much I adore the Fables graphic novels.  Andi told me about them ages, upon AGES ago, and it was the first graphic novel I read.  I love fairy tales, folk tales, oral histories and the like, so these are right up my alley.  The adventure, the romance, the battles, revenge, retaliations, wars, peace, magic, mystery and more are not to be missed.  The art is gorgeous too.  Really, if you are thinking about trying a graphic novel; start with the Fables.

Also by Bill Willingham:

Oh, my gosh, are you kidding?  Too many to mention!  Just look at the Fables here.

Also reviewed by:

The Written World | Sophisticated Dorkiness | Fyrefly’s Book Blog |


I apologize for being so out of it lately.  I know I haven’t posted much that wasn’t complete drivel.  Some things have been going on in my life and I haven’t really been able to focus on anything else.  It looks like things are lightening up now though and I should now be able to return to regular scheduled programming and hopefully will get back to reading my favorite blogs soon!  I hope you could stand my pitiful attempts to keep you entertained with all the pictures of my kids and the other stuff.  I’ll try to keep it to a minimum for awhile 😉

I haven’t been reading very much.  With my mind being on other things, I haven’t really been able to concentrate on much. I just finished The Nasty Bits, a collection of articles, book reviews, restaurant reviews and other miscellanea by Anthony Bourdain.  There is even a short story piece included, which was actually pretty good.  It piqued my interest in reading some of his other fictional works, which I admit I’ve never really been interested in. 

I also just completed the second graphic novel in the Jack of Fables Series. I found it to be much better than the first.  Now that Jack is established in his own series, the story really gets going.  Jack has many tales, or personae, and one of the stories in this collection recounts his time as Jack Frost.  Another is set during modern times, with him trying to regain wealth and fame in Las Vegas.  With help from the Pathetic Fallacy, he works the town over in typical Jack style.  The art work, as usual, is stunning.  The stories are fun.  Despite my previous misgivings, Jack is proving to be a worthy Fable for his own series.

I am finally starting to read again.  I am tee-totally LOVING, Joe Hill’s short story collection 20th Century Ghosts.  This is my first encounter with Hill’s writing, but I had a feeling I would like him after Andi’s glowing review of Heart Shaped Box.  I’ve only read the first three stories so far but have found each one to be stunning.  And haunting, and I don’t mean in the way his daddy writes J  I have found I can only read one story at a time, because I find myself wanting to savor each piece.  But I will talk more about on this after I’ve finished the book.

I started another book yesterday.  The Know-It-All: One Man’s Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World by AJ Jacobs very quickly sucked me in.  I’m up to “D” now and am really enjoying Jacob’s witty and personable voice.  I think this will be the quick read I’ve been waiting for.  I’m obviously in a nonfiction mood, so I expect to read more like it after I’m through.