Dec 18, 2008

Thessaly – Witch for Hire by Bill Willingham and Shawn McManus

Thessaly, the millennia-old witch named after the region of Greece she comes from, has always been one of my favourite Sandman characters. She plays an important role in both A Game of You and The Kindly Ones, and yet we never actually get to see that much of her. She’s mysterious, independent and intelligent, and she shows a strange mix of ruthlessness and compassion. When I heard that Fables creator Bill Willingham had written two Sandman spin-offs focusing on Thessaly, I was very excited. Unfortunately, they aren’t that easy to find. But I was lucky enough to get this one from Bookmooch. Hooray!

Thessaly – Witch from Hire is told from an interesting perspective. The narrator, Fletch, is a ghost who is obsessed with Thessaly. And he’s not just any ghost. He’s the ghost of all the people she killed over the millennia, merged into a single being. Though his intentions are good, he gets his beloved witch into a lot of trouble by forcing her to confront a Tharmic Null – a creature of chaos that no one has ever been able to defeat. But Thessaly is not one to be easily discouraged, and the fact that no one has ever been able to do something in the past is no reason why she shouldn’t try.

I quite enjoyed this story, though the tone surprised me. I expected it to be much darker, but it’s actually even humorous at times. Also, after reading Thessaly – Witch for Hire I realized that this is actually the second of the Thessaly spin-offs. The Thessaliad came first. I’m not sure how connected they are, and this story made complete sense on its own. But I really hate reading stuff out of order, and I can’t help but wonder if there was anything I missed because of that.

One thing I’d say is that there wasn’t actually a lot of character development in this book. If I hadn’t met Thessaly before I doubt I’d have enjoyed it half as much. Again, I wonder if having read The Thessaliad first would have made a difference in that regard.

While not as enjoyable as The Sandman or Fables (but then again, that’s hard) or as some of the other Sandman spin-offs I have read (particularly Mike Carey’s The Furies, my favourite so far), I still found this a very enjoyable read. Also, as you can probably tell by the cover, the artwork is absolutely beautiful.


bermudaonion said...

Oh my gosh, that cover is fabulous!

valentina said...

i really like the cover!
and you were really lucky to get it off bookmooch!

Nymeth said...

Bermudaonion: Isn't it?

Valentina: I know! It's one of those I added to my wishlist just because...I had no hope of ever getting it. But I was pleasantly surprised, which just goes to show that adding books to your bookmooch wishlist is always worth it :P

Melody said...

Oh, I love the cover! I've been hearing great things about the Sandman series and Fables. I bought one from the Fables series some time ago...I guess it's about time to dive into it! ;)

Charley said...

Mysterious, independent, intelligent - my type of girl! I like the cover, too.

Ramya said...

i hate when that happens (you read a book and then realize that it is a spin off from a previous one).. i just read a book and realized that it is the second book by the same author and includes the same characters.. now i want to read the other one!

Alice Teh said...

This one sounds so good, Nymeth! I can't see the cover from here but I'll try again later. :)

Chris said...

I didn't know anything about this book until you mentioned it the other sounds fantastic! I love that cover big time and it's so cool that Bill Willingham did a Sandman spin off! What's not to love?

naida said...

sounds great and what a cute cover :)

I dont like reading stuff out of order either.

Loren Eaton said...

I haven't yet braved Sandman, but I'll confess with everyone else that the cover's excellent. It looks like Thessaly's wearing Cthulhu as a hat.

Lightheaded said...

--> But I really hate reading stuff out of order, and I can’t help but wonder if there was anything I missed because of that.

I just had to laugh at that! The jumps I made from reading Fables out of order is making me dizzy :) Kidding.

Goodness, I haven't read any Sandman spinoffs but I'm actually more than inclined to pick up Lucifer instead. Although I agree that the cover is a bit whimsical and fun considering the Thessaly we met in Sandman is definitely serious and, as you say, ruthless.

Anna said...

I agree the cover is wonderful! I've never heard of Thessaly. I learn a lot from you blog. This sounds like another good book to check out.

Diary of an Eccentric

Nymeth said...

Melody, I can't wait to hear your thoughts.

Charley: She's actually not a likeable character in the traditional sense...she does quite a few horrible things, and she's ambivalent at best. But I couldn't help but find her fascinating all the same.

Ramya: I did realize it was a Sandman spin-off, just not that another one had been written before. I'm not sure if the plots of the two are even connected, but it bugs me all the same.

Alice: As you can tell by the other comments, everyone seems to agree with me that it's pretty :P

Chris: I haven't heard of it either until last year. What's not to love indeed!

Naida: It is cute :)

Loren Eaton: lol! Good point :P And you have to try Sandman! It's still my favourite thing Neil Gaiman has done, and considering that he's my favourite author, that's saying a lot.

Lightheaded: lol, in my teens I read Anne Rice's vampire Chronicles completely out of order, and I loved them anyway :P Lack of access to books had to do with it too. I also want to try Lucifer. Especially because the author, Mike Carey, also wrote The Furies, and that was one great book.

Anna: Knowing that I help expose you to new things actually makes me really happy :)

Kim L said...

As always, you're adding to my list. I really need to scour the library to see if they have this one, because it sounds irresistable. My ears perked up at the mention of Bill Willingham

Nymeth said...

Kim: I suspected they would :P I hope your library has it!

Joanne said...

Oh wow, this looks like a really cool read!

I'm so glad you mentioned getting it from bookmooch, I hadn't even thought of looking on bookmooch for graphic novels :)

Nymeth said...

Joanne, they're not too easy to find, but every now and then a few pop up. I've even seen Sandman books in there!

Jenny said...

I'm totally scared of Thessaly. I read A Game of You one issue a day (to make it last), and between issue two and issue three I had a horrific nightmare about Thessaly. I was sad for Dream when they broke up, but not that sad.

Carl V. said...

Despite how much I love Tara McPherson's art I never picked this up, not sure why.

Nymeth said...

Jenny: She really scares me too. But somehow that adds to the fascination. In this book she wasn't quite as scary, though.

Carl: Do when you have the chance. I'm sure you'll enjoy it!

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