In 2010, author Neil Gaiman was asked to read a story at the Sydney Opera House. He chose an unpublished story, and invited artist Eddie Campbell to create paintings to be projected during the reading. Now, that story is an incredible hardcover book, with additional paintings and comics done by Campbell. The result, The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains: A Tale of Travel and Darkness with Pictures of all Kinds lives up to its subtitle, being something in between a prose novel and a graphic novel. Every page features some kind of illustration that adds to the story in a unique way. Dialogue often breaks into more comic-y panels, complete with word balloons. Sometimes whole pages are done in this style, and other times it very coolly fits seamlessly into a more standard page of prose.
Serious Gaiman fans may notice that the “Truth is a Cave” story was recently re-published in the short story collection Trigger Warning, sans illustrations. Reading the complete book is an entirely different experience, as the illustrations add additional atmosphere and emotion to the story, and in some places even help clarify the observations of Gaiman’s unreliable narrator. This story is dark and disquieting; essentially it’s a fable set in Scotland about two men searching for gold, hidden in a mythical cave on the Misty Isle. Gaiman infuses the narrative with a bleak foreboding feeling, and Campbell’s illustrations do a great job of visualizing those feelings. Equally unsettling and thrilling, this story will stick with you long after you’re done.
– Alex Strine
The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains: A Tale of Travel and Darkness with Pictures of All Kinds
by Neil Gaiman (author) and Eddie Campbell (illustrator)
2014, 80 pages, 8 x 8.5 x 0.5 inches