by Walter Moers
I've read each of Walter Moers' quirky fantasy books that take place on Zamonia, and while the last one fell pretty far short of my expectations, they've all been highly imaginative and I'm looking forward to his next one. A Wild Ride Through the Night is not part of the series, but is instead a story crafted using as its framework 21 wood engravings by French artist Gustave Doré. Doré was a highly successful painter, illustrator, and engraver whose subject matter often included angels, dragons, and other fantastical images.
Moers uses a 12-year-old Gustave as his main character. The book begins with Gustave captaining a ship that runs into a deadly Siamese Twins Tornado. His crew is killed and Gustave comes face to face with Death and his crazy sister Dementia. In order to escape the grasp of both of them, Gustave is given six seemingly impossible tasks that he has to perform in a single night. Among them are rescuing a damsel in distress from a dragon, facing six giants and guessing their names, encountering the Most Monstrous of Monsters, and meeting himself.
Moers includes the 21 engravings throughout the book and ties them all together with a clever and entertaining story. The story isn't as good as most of his Zamonian tales, but it's short and fun and worth the time to read.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆