2017 Reading Challenge: A book that is a story within a story.
You know how when you’re at the library and you’re not looking for anything in particular, just browsing the shelves, and then all of the sudden your hand reaches for a book. You stare at the cover, flip it over to the back, and somehow that book ends up tucked under your arm as you head to check it out.
This is one of those books, though I don’t typically read book summaries. I like to go in blind and unravel the story for myself. But yes, The One Hundred Nights of Hero by Isabel Greenberg was one book I hadn’t been looking for, yet it found me. Remember the opinion I have on this book is one of thousands or more.
If you love stories that are stories within a story, then please, look no further.
Overall, this graphic novel centers around two women, Cherry and Hero. Now, Cherry is married to Manfred, but Hero her maid is her lover. One night, Manfred and his friend Jerome are discussing women and how terrible they can be (lying, cheating, disobeying, etc.). Manfred practically brags to Jerome that his wife is none of those things and is still virtuous. The two men struck up a bargain: If Jerome can seduce Cherry and take her virtue, Manfred must give up his castle and his wife to him. But if Jerome cannot seduce his wife and take her virtue, then Manfred gets Jerome’s castle. Manfred leaves and gives Jerome 100 nights to complete his mission.
Hero gets wind of the deal and tells Cherry. Together, the women come up with a plot to keep Jerome busy until the 100 nights are up. Hero tells stories each night, stories so beautiful and heartbreaking that they enrapture Jerome until he is begging for more and completely forgetting about his mission.
Within the stories told, Greenberg states, “You will read of betrayal, loyalty, madness, bad husbands, lovers both faithful and unfaithful, wise old crones, moons who come out of the sky, musical instruments that won’t stay quiet, friends and brothers and fathers and mothers and, above all, many, many sisters.”
Now, I don’t wish to tell you how the story ends, but it is truly beautiful.
What I Liked
EVERYTHING. The pictures drawn, the stories, the plot holes filled in, the light humor, and I believe there was a bit of fourth wall breaking at times. The overall theme centers around women and how badly they are treated by man long ago (in a different style of Earth, where Birdman is God and how he brings sin into the world because it’s “too perfect”) and how when they stand up for themselves, they are taken down. But their bravery does not go unnoticed. I also loved the style of the artwork. Simple strokes, colors, and it just made the stories come alive.
What I Didn’t Like
Honestly, I can’t think of anything. I did have a bit of trouble reading certain words. The graphic novel uses a font that’s sort of like how one would write, and I’m terrible at being able to read someone’s handwriting. But the majority of it was pretty clear, and of course, the pictures helped.
Overall, this was a delight and I am so glad I picked it up at random. I’ll definitely remember this book and perhaps reread it in time. Now, for the next one on my TBR!