Book Review: ‘Labyrinth: One Classic Film, Fifty-Five Sonnets’ by A Corrigan.

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affects my opinion of the book. Quotes below may differ in the final published version of the book.

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I love me a bit of Labyrinth, so when I saw this book was available for immediate download, obviously I had to give it a go.

The book follows the story of the Jim Henson film, with each ‘chapter’ in the form of a sonnet (14 lines with an ABAB rhyme scheme, including a rhyming couplet at the end). If you’ve read a lot of traditional poetry, this may be a bit unsophisticated for you, but if it’s your first foray into poetry you might find it a fun read.

Corrigan relies on iambic pentameter a little too much, assuming the correct number of syllables will automatically make the poems work. Yes, iambic pentameter is a big part of sonnet-writing and can’t  be sacrificed, but it doesn’t necessarily mean the lines will flow. The rhythm is off in many places:

Sunrise; its pale light illuminating
the maze, and other features of the land –
also an uncouth dwarf, urinating,
relieving himself, in a handy pond.

Even reading in my head, I stumbled over these lines because they didn’t flow properly.

The rhyming is also inconsistent, which was frustrating. If you’re going to use rhyme, it needs to flow really well and be extremely polished. There were several ‘half-rhymes’ that did not work at all:

(…)despite being in a place of chains and bones.
She sought his help to solve the maze again.
He said that he was there to lead her home,
that it would get much worse from here on in.
But Sarah saw his fondness for trinkets,
and bought his help, with her plastic bracelet.

 If you are into poetry but are interested in something less traditional, or if you’re a massive fan of the film, I would definitely recommend this as I had lots of fun reading it. The poet does a fantastic job of condensing the film into not very many sonnets, and shoehorns in a few quotes from the film that made me smile:

Outside, a white owl watched; away he flew.
Yet as under the moon he made his way
methinks he was reminded of the babe…

Unfortunately, it doesn’t have much substance as a book, and fan works do often fall short because they can never be the original beloved thing. However, this isn’t claiming to be as good as, or better than, the film: it’s fanfiction and clearly a lot of love has gone into it. I loved Corrigan’s portrayal of Jareth and found several lines very funny. I think if you go in not expecting much, you might enjoy this more than you thought.

If you haven’t seen the film, definitely watch that first. It’s about a spoiled teenager who, frustrated with the attention lavished on baby brother, accidentally banishes him to an enormous labyrinth, presided over by Jareth the Goblin King (fabulously played by David Bowie). He gives her 13 hours to solve the Labyrinth, after which her brother will be turned into a goblin. She embarks on the quest and meets weird and wonderful creatures along the way.

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My Rating: 3/5

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