I was a Jim Henson junkie when I was a kid—weren’t we all? I had a Dark Crystal lunch box in first grade, I loved the Muppets and Fraggle Rock…and then I saw Labyrinth, which instantly became my favorite Jim Henson production of all time. I was just old enough to find myself strangely attracted to Jareth, the Goblin King, and that was all she wrote; I was a fan for life. I’ve watched it repeatedly over the years, across various platforms (I even have it for PSP), and to say I know it by heart is an understatement. So when I saw that there was a novelization of the movie coming out, I jumped at the chance to review it. It’s actually a reprint of the 1986 novelization by A.C.H. Smith, with some added features, but it did not disappoint.
The novelization sticks fairly close to the movie, but goes a few places the movie doesn’t. There is an extended sequence with the Fireys, for instance, and there are added little moments within Sarah’s exploration of the labyrinth that are new twists on the story. Jareth’s musical numbers are missing, but the scenes retain the flavor of them. We’re also treated to glimpses of the inner life of the characters, from Sarah’s relationship with her mother to Jareth’s concerns about his kingdom and aging, to Sir Didymus’s devotion to chivalry. While it was sometimes a little trippy to jump from the mind of one character to another, it added a deeper level to the story. We knew that Jim Henson would never let the Goblin King take advantage of a 16-year-old (no matter how much Jareth/Sarah shippers might want that to happen), but the novelization lets us see the moment when Jareth decides that Sarah is “too old to be a goblin, but too young to be kept by him, damn her innocent eyes.” That single line gives us more information about Jareth than the movie ever provides: he’s got a sense of honor in spite of being a villain, and while he’s attracted to Sarah, he won’t dishonor her. Little touches like this made the novelization a joy to read.
If that was all there was to this book, it would be enough. But in the words of infomercial hosts everywhere: wait, there’s more! There’s also a set of illustrations by Brian Froud showing the initial concepts for the goblins in the film, as well as the evolution of some like the wise man with the bird hat. As a final bonus there are excerpts from Jim Henson’s Labyrinth concept diary, which shows the progression of the storyline from its beginnings as a tale about a king and a jester. With short essays contextualizing both the Froud and Henson diaries, these sections give us a broader look at the world of Labyrinth, and were a wonderful addition to the novelization.
The whole book gave a breath of fresh air to one of my favorite stories while managing to retain the familiarity of a well-loved fairy tale. Well done, Archaia and BOOM! Even if you managed to hang on to the paperback novelization from the 80s, I think you’re going to want to add this to your shelves. 5 out of 5 Lightning Bolts for letting me revisit a wonderful part of my childhood.
Jim Hensons Labyrinth: Novel HC
Writer: Henson, Jim
Artist: Froud, Brian
Cover Artist: Froud, Brian
Format: HARD COVER
On Sale April 02, 2014
Diamond Id: FEB141067