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Bill Willingham – The Sandman Presents: Thessaly: Witch for Hire

February 26, 2010

19. The Sandman Presents: Thessaly: Witch for Hire by Bill Willingham, Shawn McManus, Pamela Rambo, Nick J. Napolitano, Rob Leigh, Phil Balsman, Tara McPherson; Thessaly and the Sandman universe created by Neil Gaiman (2005)
The Sandman Presents

Length: 96 pages
Genre: Graphic Novel, Fantasy

Started: 20 February 2010
Finished: 20 February 2010

Where did it come from? The library.
Why do I have it? Sandman-related stories? Count me in.

Monsters on all sides,
and a baddie that can’t die…
what’s a witch to do?

Summary: Thessaly – first introduced to readers in The Sandman is the world’s oldest and most powerful witch. She thought she could handle anything, until a lovesick spirit named Fetch involves her against her will in a monster-slaying business in a bizzare attempt at courtship. The regular monsters are no problem, but Fetch has accidentally pitted Thessaly against an unstoppable, unkillable agent of Chaos itself.

Review: I’ll admit, I didn’t know exactly what to expect from the Sandman spinoff series, but I was imagining that while they’d focus on some of the smaller characters, they would at least be Sandman-like in tone – dark, dream-like, musing, whatever you want to call it. Instead, Thessaly: Witch for Hire was more like a screwball romantic comedy than the layered drama I was expecting, and it suffered accordingly. Gaiman’s Thessaly was an interesting character because she was not only powerful, but mysterious and closed-off about her power. Willingham’s treatment of her, however, strips away a lot of the mystery and reveals her to be sort of regularly ruthlessly bitchy, which resulted in me losing a fair bit of interest in the character. I was also not crazy about the way the story ended – not to spoil anything, but the way Thessaly gets out of her jam just felt too convenient and pat.

That all sounds really negative, but the truth was that it wasn’t a terrible read. I was just hoping that it would manage to recapture more of the Sandman magic than it actually did. 3 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: You could argue this point, but Thessaly: Witch at Large might actually be best as a cute, fun read for people who *haven’t* read the main Sandman series – it’s relatively understandable on its own, and they’re less likely to be jarred by the major change in tone.

This Review on LibraryThing | This Book on LibraryThing | This Book on Amazon

Other Reviews: Girl Detective, The Perfect Binge, Things Mean a Lot
Have you reviewed this book? Leave a comment with the link and I’ll add it in.

First Line: Let me tell you about my girl.

Cover Thoughts: At first, I thought it was an octopus, but it’s actually a frog and her hair. It’s pretty cutesy… until you notice that her hands and shirt are covered with blood.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. February 26, 2010 9:01 am

    I think I’ll skip this one – thanks for the review.

  2. February 27, 2010 5:14 pm

    I had the same reaction to this book. It wasn’t at all Sandman-y! Even though I love Sandman and I love Bill Willingham, this just didn’t work for me.

    • March 2, 2010 8:14 am

      Jenny – I know, I was hoping for more from this collaboration too! Although I just read Taller Tales, and that was a lot more what I was expecting.

  3. February 28, 2010 1:41 pm

    Thessaly looks exactly like that old cartoon character, Daria!

    • March 2, 2010 8:14 am

      christina – You’re totally right! I think it’s the round glasses.

  4. March 2, 2010 7:19 am

    I reviewed this one, and loved some of the one pager art pieces. I liked this one pretty well but really came into it expecting more Willingham-ness rather than Sandman.

    http://perfectbinge.blogspot.com/2009/12/monsters-and-gore.html

    • March 2, 2010 8:18 am

      Claire – I’ve added your link, thanks! That’s interesting that you thought this was more Sandman than Willingham; I would have said the other way around. What Willingham-ness were you missing?

  5. March 4, 2010 6:08 pm

    Sounds like we had pretty well the same reaction to this one. I think I might have read the second one, too, but I can’t remember. It hasn’t really stayed with me.

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