Books of Magic Vol One; Moveable Type
Story by Neil Gaiman, Kat Howard, Art by Tom Fowler, and Colour by Jordon Boyd
DC Vertigo, pb, £7.78
Reviewed by Sarah Deeming
Timothy Hunter has been told he will be the world’s most powerful magician. But right now, he’s an ordinary teenager with bullies, absent parents, and a quasi-girlfriend he can’t impress. Nor can he read the book of magic he’s been given to study. The pages are blank and nothing he does changes it.
However, the disappearance of one of his teachers leads to a substitute, Dr Rose, who might have the answers. She practices magic as well and is willing to guide Timothy on the next stages to become the world’s most powerful magician and to protect him from those who do not want him to achieve his ultimate dream. But Dr Rose may not be as trustworthy as she appears, and those who don’t want Timothy to gain his power might be right. Timothy must work out who to trust and what’s important to him, a journey that takes him straight to the Dreaming.
While Moveable Type is the first in the Books of Magic series, it is actually a second-tier book leading on from events in The Dreaming which was released earlier this year. It starts with the same introduction as The Dreaming where we discover Daniel, Lord of Dreams is missing. The story continues on from Dr Rose offering to help Timothy learn magic to his first attempts at using magic and the murderous consequences of his success.
For the most part, the panels are separated with borders, following a linear pattern making it easy to read. Where this changes is in the Dreaming, where the panels become full page with the cracks that have appeared in the Dreaming, or stairs, as breaks in the panels. This is reminiscent of the style used in the first book and is in keeping with the non-linear world.
Being largely based in the human world, the colouring is as you would expect. It is quite dark though, as a lot of Timothy’s adventures take place at night or in corners of libraries. This is not Harry Potter with light moments of relief, this is a non-stop descent into chaos and pain.
In the end, we’re left with Timothy making a decision, but neither us nor Timothy is certain he’s made the right one. And that’s the point. Throughout, Timothy has had to make decisions, and there are no right or wrong decisions, only greater or lesser consequences. In the end, I assume it will tie in with the greater story of the missing Sandman and the other story arcs that also follow on from the first book, The Dreaming.