cover image The One Hundred Nights of Hero

The One Hundred Nights of Hero

Isabel Greenberg. Little, Brown, $25 (224p) ISBN 978-0316259170

Greenberg’s haunting first graphic novel, The Encyclopedia of Early Earth, made her an instant critical darling. In her follow-up, she returns to Early Earth, a three-mooned world of myth and magical realism, for a collection of feminist stories about “bad husbands and murderous wives and mad gods and brave women who don’t take shit from anyone.” In a frame story borrowed from The Thousand and One Nights, two women hold off a rapacious man by telling stories within stories, usually about other women getting themselves in and out of danger. Greenberg combines elements from fairy tales, children’s books, and folklore from around the world to create an original but teasingly familiar mythos. Above all, it’s a book about the power of storytelling, populating Early Earth with a secret society of storytellers, a grove of memory trees, and women treasuring literacy in defiance of a stern bird god. Greenberg’s primitive woodcut-style illustrations suggest folk art from another planet. (Dec.)