Peter & Max by Bill Willingham

Hey Fangirls! The other day my lovely friend Shannon leant me this book, Peter & Max, by Bill Willingham, to read, and I’m very grateful that she did. If you’re at all familiar with Bill Willingham’s Fables stories, you know that they’re about what we think of as fairy tale creatures, but they’re actually from another land and another time. This book is not a comic, like Fables, but a written story about two Pipers, Max and Peter.


The story line starts with two stories, and becomes three. Current Peter’s story, young Peter’s story, and young Max’s story. Peter and Max are brothers. Their family are all musicians. One night, as they’re stopped at a friend’s house, their father passes down a magical pipe to Peter. Max gets very upset, because he is older, and therefore believes he deserved the pipe.

Later that night, invaders come. The Pipers’ friends and all of their guests sneak out into the dangerous Black Forest to run from the army. Many bad things happen in the forest, and groups are eventually all split up. Max has it in his mind to kill Peter for the pipe, but doesn’t get a chance to. Eventually both Peter leaves the forest and becomes a master thief for a guild.


Max, however, let’s his anger brew inside him. One day, he meets a witch, who gives him a magic pipe of his own. Not knowing it’s power, the witch promises to show Max where Peter is once he has trained himself and destroys her enemies. So he trains. And when he is prepared, he goes to the nearby town. There, in hopes of getting tight with the officials, he tries to become an important member of their board. When his magic is not believed, he rids the town of all it’s rats. When the town refuses to reward him, he also takes their children. That is how Max became the Pied Piper.

After years with his thriving brotherhood, Peter runs into his old love, Bo Peep, and they run away together. Bo, now an assassin, teaches Peter how to use her instruments of destruction, in case they run into Max. They do, but he is too powerful, and destroys Bo’s legs. They get away, thanks to Peter’s magic flute.

Many years later, where the story actually starts, Peter is warned of his brother’s return to the human world (all of the previous stories were from the Homelands, the general name for everywhere the Fables came from). He prepares himself with all of Bo’s old equipment, and leaves to kill his brother. When he gets there, it doesn’t seem like he will do Max any harm, but wins their battle anyways. The story ends with a couple pages in comic book form about how Peter and Bo became a quiet necessity in the Fables war.

I loved this book. I thought the ending was very anticlimactic, which bothered me, but otherwise the story was wonderfully crafted. Though I’m used to reading Willingham’s work accompanied by pictures, he did a lovely job if describing things, so I wouldn’t need pictures. If you enjoy the Fables stories, Once Upon a Time, or any sort of fairy tale in the modern world type story, I would read this. In the Fables line, this book fits about 2 years before the Fables go to war with the Adversary.

Until next time, Fangirls and Fables, keep reading!

All images and characters depicted are copyright of their respective owners.


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