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Book Review: Pan’s Labyrinth

Hello lovelies! Since it’s October, I HAVE to review my most recent spooky read. Over my family’s lake visit a few weeks ago I read Pan’s Labyrinth: The Labyrinth of the Faun by Guillermo del Toro and Cornelia Funke. This is an adaptation from the movie, so there might be minor spoilers for the movie. I don’t know, because I haven’t seen it yet.

I don’t usually read a lot of ~spooky~ books, so I don’t have much to compare this one to. Horror/thriller is a genre I enjoy more in movie format. This one just has a generally creepy vibe and mysterious aesthetic, so it’s probably as close to spooky as I’ll get 🙂

I’ve heard a lot of good things about Guillermo del Toro and I’ve been a long-time fan of Cornelia Funke, so I was very excited to read this!

Pan’s Labyrinth: The Labyrinth of the Faun by Guillermo del Toro and Cornelia Funke

Image from Goodreads

This book was chock full of wonderful characters. Our protagonist is Ofelia, whose father has recently died. She is struggling with his passing and the recent lack of love from her mother, who has married again and is pregnant. Ofelia’s courage and strength in the face of danger are admirable. We watch her grow as she realizes what must be done for things to get better. She cares deeply for her mother and her deceased father, and has seen far too much sadness for such a young girl. There’s more to her character than meets the eye, and I enjoyed getting to know her on a deeper level as the novel progressed.
The Capitán was very interesting as a character. His backstory shapes who he is, and getting to know his motivation and deepest desires both makes him more frightening and more human, perhaps because the true monstrosity of him came from his dark human nature. He is a wonderfully evil villain, someone you love to hate, like Umbridge but more fleshed out.
I don’t want to give anything away, but we have several other excellent characters. I liked the way women were the strongest characters in a lot of ways, and the juxtaposition of Ofelia’s courage stemming from stories and her mother’s life wasting away because she trusted too much in the wrong kind of stories. One of the female rebel characters (I won’t say who because spoilers) is an amazing example of a strong but still caring leader. She does what needs to be done but never loses her empathy; rather, she tries to help the helpless and goes out of her way to be kind and loving in a world without much love.
I give the characters in this book a 9/10. There was only one character I felt could have been explored further, and that was the Faun himself. This may have been intentional, so as to give him an air of mystery, but I think the story (or maybe a prequel) could benefit from hearing more about him.

I thought the plot of this book was very well done. It wove magic and mystery and mythical danger together with sharp realism and pain and human wars. The two moods seem so different when looked at individually, but they were sewn together seamlessly and worked far better than I would have anticipated.
Ofelia’s tasks feel very fairytale-inspired, but also have human-world consequences. The two worlds are intertwined in more ways than one, and the story has many examples of one person’s actions affecting many others. By the end of the book, it felt like most of the main characters were somehow connected by the past.

Okay, some people may not like the ending, and I must admit, it surprised me. I expected things to turn out differently. However, I ended up really enjoying it, and found it to fit the tone of the story quite well. It did leave me with some questions about the nature of the two worlds described in the story, and if they truly meet at all. It leaves the reader with the feeling of waking up from a very deep sleep, one that leaves you wondering what is real and what is a dream.

The writing style for this book was very descriptive. It set the stage well for the events of the story. It felt like a higher reading level than most YA at times, but was also pretty easy to understand. I was never confused as to what was going on (at least, not more than I was supposed to be), but I didn’t feel like the writing was overly simplistic or surface level.

Content Warning
This book contains quite a bit of violence, some more graphic than others. It takes place during World War II, so we see some violent action between soldiers, as well as more mythical peril with evil creatures like a child-eater.
There is a little bit of swearing, but it falls on the milder side of the spectrum. It is implied that the Capitán likes to abuse the female servants in a sexual way, but nothing explicit is mentioned or shown. A woman gives birth prematurely, and the scene is fairly intense. If you are especially sensitive to violence, I would not recommend this book (or the movie. I’ve heard the movie is even more graphic with its depiction of violence.)
A young girl is neglected and suffers through many traumatic events.

Aesthetic and Colors
This is one of my new sections that I just started including in my last review. It’s mostly for my own fun, but maybe it’ll help y’all out too in some way 🙂
The aesthetic of this book is very dark and magical. Think deep grays and blues tinged with green, lots of rain and shadows. The magic in this book gives me dark purple vibes, somewhat sinister and mysterious. The dark, misty forest aesthetic is haunting and wonderful.
I recommend reading this book when you’re in the mood for something with threatening or spooky undertones throughout, even in the “good” parts. It’s chilling and will cling to you like wisps of fog. You may want to read it somewhere warm, or dive into the setting by reading outside after dusk with some candles.

Reading Snack
The second new section 🙂
I recommend reading this book with a cup of coffee or hot cocoa, something warm to counter the creepy aspects of the story. Dark chocolate is also a good idea because it’s got sweetness and a bitter tang all in one flavor, just like this book.

This book was much better than expected! I had heard some mixed things about the movie, and was surprised I enjoyed this as much as I did. It explored some interesting ideas and drew lots of parallels between the violent monsters of myths and the terrifying monsters we make of ourselves. It was the essence of a dark fairytale, intriguing and magical and marked with truth. I definitely recommend reading something happy after this one, since it’s such a heavy story.

Have you read this book or watched the movie? What were the differences? Did you like them? Let me know in the comments!

Have an adventurous day!



Published by Blue

I always have a book in my hands or zipped up in my bag. I'll probably read through the apocalypse and not realize what's happened.

14 thoughts on “Book Review: Pan’s Labyrinth

  1. This is one of my favorite books and movies. I would highly recommend the movie, but if you’re sensitive to violence I would not watch it as it can get fairly graphic. It is also only available in Spanish with subtitles so don’t watch it if you are not a subtitles fan.

    Liked by 1 person

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