Pan's Labyrinth: The Labyrinth of the Faun

Pan's Labyrinth: The Labyrinth of the Faun


You shouldn't come in here. You could get lost. It has happened before. I'll tell you the story one day, if you want to hear it.

In fairy tales, there are men and there are wolves, there are beasts and dead parents, there are girls and forests.

Ofelia knows all this, like any young woman with a head full of stories. And she sees right away what the Capitán is, in his immaculate uniform, boots and gloves, smiling: a wolf.

But nothing can prepare her for the fevered reality of the Capitán's eerie house, in the midst of a dense forest which conceals many things: half-remembered stories of lost babies; renegade resistance fighters hiding from the army; a labyrinth; beasts and fairies.

There is no one to keep Ofelia safe as the labyrinth beckons her into her own story, where the monstrous and the human are inextricable, where myths pulse with living blood ...

Our Review

Pan’s Labyrinth: The Labyrinth of the Faun was an excellent book and I will definitely be buying it. I hadn’t ever watched the film, so I went in totally blind which is how I liked it.

“It is said that a long, long time ago, there lived a princess in an underground realm, when neither lies nor pain exist, who dreamt of the human world. Princess Moanna dreamt of a perfect blue sky and an infinite sun of clouds, she dreamt of the sun and the grass and the taste of rain…So, one day the princess escaped her guards and came to our world.

Soon the sun erased all her memories and she forgot who she was or where she came from. She wandered the earth, suffering cold, sickness, and pain. And finally, she died.”

Her father, King of the Underworld, never gave up his search for her and was convinced she would return to him one day in another form.

Pan’s Labyrinth is written in a fantastic way. It is like one massive fairy tale with a series of fairy tales within it. There is the overarching story of Ofelia with the tales of other characters and things central to the story sandwiched in between. I haven’t done a particularly good job of describing it, but I loved how it was written.

The main story begins in 1944 in the North of Spain whilst the country is still under the grips of Franco. In a forest so old it could tell stories long past and forgotten by men. A young girl named Ofelia is travelling with her mother to the home of her mother’s new husband.

“Her name was Ofelia and she knew everything about the pain of loss, although she was only thirteen years old.”

Ofelia’s father, an excellent tailor has not long died, and Ofelia is still in the throws of grief.

Her mother was a character I felt great contempt for throughout the book, but I will get to that a minute. First, I want to talk about how much I loved some of the references to books. In particular, the following quote:

“The only piece of home Ofelia had been able to take with her were some books…When she opened the book, the white pages were so bright against the shadows that filled the forest and the words they offered granted shelter and comfort.”

Whilst travelling in the forest Ofelia comes across an unusual object and a fairy but is called away from exploring further by her mother, Carmen.

Carmen was a broken woman who was fearful of everything and looked to a man to save her and her child from the situation.

“This world was ruled by men – her child didn’t understand that yet – and only a man would be able to keep them both safe. Ofelia’s mother didn’t know it but she also believed in a fairy tale. Carmen Cardoso believed the most dangerous tale of all: the one of the prince who would save her.”

Ofelia knew Carmen’s new husband was evil, she had read enough books to see the signs but her heavily pregnant mother was oblivious.

“Books could have told her so much about this world and about places far away, about animals and plants, about the stars! They could be windows and doors, paper wings to help her fly away. Maybe her mother had just forgotten how to fly. Or maybe she learned.”

Ofelia knows Vidal is a wolf even if her mother isn’t yet aware.

In her new home she meets a servant named Mercedes who is harbouring a secret, a secret Ofelia keeps for her. Mercedes brother Pedro is one of the resistance fighters hiding in the hills and Mercedes is secretly helping him and his friends.

All of this is going on in the background whilst the story of Ofelia and the labyrinth is unfolding. I don’t really want to say anymore for fear of spoilers, but I adored this book and its beautiful illustrations.

Pan’s Labyrinth has the best closing lines I have read in a book for a long time.

“It’s always just a few who know where to look and how to listen, that is true. But for the best stories, a few are just enough.”

Our Final Rating...

Our Rating

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