Cornelia Funke and Guillermo del Toro turn ′Pan′s Labyrinth′ into a novel | Books | DW | 03.07.2019
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Cornelia Funke and Guillermo del Toro turn 'Pan's Labyrinth' into a novel

Both are masters of the fantasy genre. Now, the Oscar-winning Mexican filmmaker and bestselling German author have collaborated on a literary adaptation of del Toro's acclaimed dark fantasy film "Pan's Labyrinth."

This week saw the much-anticipated worldwide publication of Pan's Labyrinth: The Labyrinth of the Faun, a dark fantasy epic based on the eponymous 2006 film by Mexican filmmaker Guillermo del Toro.

The book emerged out of a unique collaboration between Del Toro and German children's fiction author Cornelia Funke, both of whom share a special talent for fantasy storytelling. Together, they have created a novel that US publisher Harper Collins describes as taking readers "to a sinister, magical, and war-torn world filled with richly drawn characters like trickster fauns, murderous soldiers, child-eating monsters, courageous rebels, and a long-lost princess hoping to be reunited with her family."

Like the film, the book revolves around the young Ofelia who, fleeing her ruthless stepfather, ends up in a kingdom full of enchanted places and magical creatures. But Ofelia's fantasy world is extraordinary and cruel at the same time.

Del Toro and Funke's novel, which ultimately asks whether innocence can prevail over evil, is aimed at a wide readership. It is accompanied by illustrations by Allen Williams and short stories that illuminate the labyrinthine plot.

Masters of fantasy

Funke, the author of blockbuster fantasy fables such as Dragon Rider (1997), The Thief Lord (2000), and the Inkhearttrilogy (2003-2008) left Hamburg, Germany, for California in 2005 and has lived there ever since. Her books have been translated into more than 37 languages ​​and have sold more than 20 million copies.

"Reality is fantastic," she once said in a conversation with DW. "And the easiest way to get closer to it is to write fantastically."

Writer and director del Toro in turn has emerged as Hollywood's master of the horror fairytale. In addition to acclaimed early works such as the 2001 gothic horror movie The Devil's Backbone, he won best film and best director Academy Awards in 2018 for Shape of Water, a dark fantasy romance set during the Cold War. It won 13 Oscars in total and a slew of other film  honors.

A challenging dream opportunity

Del Toro apparently has known how much Funke likes his films ever since she sent him a Spanish edition of the Inkheart trilogy for his children. In interviews, Funke has said Pan's Labyrinth is her favorite film.

His invitation to collaborate on the novel version of the historical fantasy film that he directed and scripted was both a dream opportunity and a challenge for Funke.

"When Guillermo del Toro asked me to write a novelization of Pan's Labyrinth, it really felt like a fairy tale," she wrote on her website. "I was quite sure that it would be impossible to turn that visually stunning masterpiece into a carpet of words. But, of course, you can't say no to such a magical task, even if it seems impossible. We have learned that from fairy tales."

It is the first time she has written a major book in English, as her previous bestselling chapter books were translated into English.

Pan's Labyrinth: The Labyrinth of the Faun is published by HarperCollins in the US and Bloomsbury in the UK.

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