The Pharos Gate by Nick Bantock

Posted by on Apr 29, 2016 in 2016, 4 stars, Book Review, Nick Bantock | 0 comments

The Pharos Gate by Nick Bantock

The Pharos Gate: Griffin & Sabine’s Lost Correspondence written and illustrated by Nick Bantock

Genre: Epistolary Fiction
Format: Hardcover
Series: #7 in the Griffin & Sabine series
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Publication Date: 2016
Pages: 60
Source: Copy provided by the publisher

*Note I’m posting about this series every Friday until I finish. I am not attempting to be spoiler free so if you haven’t read the previous books in the series you have been warned.

The Book:
From the publisher:

I’ve decided to throw caution to the wind and meet up with the woman I’ve been corresponding with for over a year. I realize the absurdity of leaving everything behind for a woman I’ve never seen, but I love her

So writes Griffin Moss about his enigmatic lover, Sabine. Their worlds seem so far apart: he in London, she on tropical island thousands of miles away. But perhaps Griffin and Sabine are closer than they think — or are they even further apart than they can imagine.

My Thoughts:
While I had read the original Griffin & Sabine trilogy years ago, this is the first time I’ve read the follow up books that came along ten years later and now I’ve finished up the series with the newest book.

This is technically the seventh book in the series but it really fits just after the third book , The Golden Mean.

Described as Griffin & Sabine’s lost correspondence this volume contains letters and postcards between them as well as Griffin’s friend Maud and her friend Francesca who lives in Alexandria where Griffin and Sabine plan to meet. There are also postcards from the menacing Victor Frolatti who is determined to keep Griffin and Sabine apart and seems even more evil with each book.

As with the other books in the series the letters, postcards and notes are all beautiful and the distinct handwriting of each character is just lovely. The format of the books reinforces the feeling of sneaking a peek into the intimate conversations of strangers through their letters and postcards.

As with the other book the ending leaves questions unanswered but at the same time there are definitely answers and it makes a great addition to the series.

Personally I enjoyed all of the books but for me the most complete story is the original trilogy and this final book. The second trilogy was good but the four other books feel to me to be the best of the story.

4 stars Rating 4/5

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The Morning Star by Nick Bantock

Posted by on Apr 22, 2016 in 2016, 4 stars, Book Review, Nick Bantock | 0 comments

The Morning Star by Nick Bantock

The Morning Star: in which the extraordinary correspondence of Griffin & Sabine is iluminated written and illustrated by Nick Bantock

Genre: Epistolary Fiction
Format: Hardcover
Series: #6 in the Griffin & Sabine series
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Publication Date: 2003
Pages: 56
Source: Library

*Note I’m posting about this series every Friday until I finish. I am not attempting to be spoiler free so if you haven’t read the previous books in the series you have been warned.

The Book:
From the publisher:

Isabella–
The stronger you grow the more I seem to want you. You say you believe I’ll respond to your love and I will. But now I understand the self-doubts Griffin must have endured when he knew he was to meet with Sabine. He was troubled by the idea that he wouldn’t be a match for her soul. You and I are so like them.
Love, Matthew
Plunged into an otherworldly maze, Matthew Sedon and Isabella de Reims are stretched to the limits of love, of certainty, and of their belief in the powerful guidance of Griffin and Sabine. Isabella is drawn into her predestined journey that forces her to explore a world beyond her imagination. In Alexandria, challenging his deepest fears, Matthew makes his own compelling discoveries in the fertile fields of both archaeology and the human heart.

My Thoughts:
While I had read the original Griffin & Sabine trilogy years ago, this is the first time I’ve read the follow up books that came along ten years later.

This is the formerly final volume of the series because a new final volume, The Pharos Gate, was released last month.

In this volume Isabella begins a journey to join Matthew in Alexandria. The letters and post cards between the two of them as well as to and from Griffin and Sabine remain a form of artwork used to tell the story. The format of the books reinforces the feeling of sneaking a peek into the intimate conversations of strangers through their letters and postcards.

Griffin and Sabine coach Isabella and Matthew toward their reunion but the mystery of the menacing presence of Frolatti continues. In fact mystery is as much a part of this series as romance, art and mystical connections.

It’s not surprising that the book ends with questions still unanswered. There is some resolution but there is so much that is left open to interpretation just as in all of the previous volumes.

I am looking forward to reading the new book. My review of that will be up next Friday.

4 stars Rating 4/5

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Alexandria by Nick Bantock

Posted by on Apr 15, 2016 in 2016, 4 stars, Book Review, Nick Bantock | 0 comments

Alexandria by Nick Bantock

Alexandria: in which the extraordinary correspondence of Griffin & Sabine unfolds written and illustrated by Nick Bantock

Genre: Epistolary Fiction
Format: Hardcover
Series: #5 in the Griffin & Sabine series
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Publication Date: 2002
Pages: 56
Source: Library

*Note I’m posting about this series every Friday until I finish. I am not attempting to be spoiler free so if you haven’t read the previous books in the series you have been warned.

The Book:
From the publisher:

Matthew–
You have felt Isabella’s heat and the experience unnerved you. What if I were to tell you that your fears are back to front, that your failure to let go and fully embrace Isabella is the thing most likely to destroy you? That your coming together is an essential part of a grand design?
–Sabine

Intrigue turns to danger and romance turns to passion as Matthew Sedon and Isabella de Reims, lovers separated by continents, struggle to make sense of a world beyond experience. Only the guidance of Griffin Moss and Sabine Stroheim–experienced navigators of myth and reality–can keep them safe. In Egypt, mysterious forces vie to keep Matthew away from his archaeological dig just as he is about to make a vital discovery, one that may explain his increasingly strange and strong connection with Sabine. In the boulevards of Paris, under Griffin’s tutelage, Isabella learns to trust her own powerful instincts.

My Thoughts:
While I had read the original Griffin & Sabine trilogy years ago, this is the first time I’ve read the follow up books that came along ten years later.

In this book Matthew and Isabella are still far apart but the correspondence continues between the two of them as well as with the ever more mysterious Griffin and Sabine.
The format of the books reinforces the feeling of sneaking a peek into the intimate conversations of strangers through their letters and postcards. Each volume seems to generate more questions than answers. Sabine seems to have a deep connection with Matthew and Griffin appears to be helping Isabella understand her visions. Or is helping the proper word? And what is mysterious and seemingly dangerous Froletti up to?

The beauty of these books is not simply in the artwork but also in the writing. It’s impressive how much can be conveyed by a few short letters and postcards.

I’m looking forward to next week and the penultimate volume of this series.

4 stars Rating 4/5

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The Gryphon by Nick Bantock

Posted by on Apr 8, 2016 in 2016, 4 stars, Book Review, Nick Bantock | 0 comments

The Gryphon by Nick Bantock

The Gryphon: in which the extraordinary correspondence of Griffin & Sabine is rediscovered written and illustrated by Nick Bantock

Genre: Epistolary Fiction
Format: Hardcover
Series: #4 in the Griffin & Sabine series
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Publication Date: 2001
Pages: 56
Source: Library

*Note I’m posting about this series every Friday until I finish. I am not attempting to be spoiler free so if you haven’t read the previous books in the series you have been warned.

The Book:
From the publisher:

Isabella:
The parcel did contain something unusual…65 cards and letters, the massed correspondence between Sabine and a man called Griffin Moss. It’s odd stuff. I’m trying to decide if I’ve encountered an elaborate fiction, or a series of events that, if true, cast doubt over any concept of reality I’ve ever held. –Matthew

The correspondence of Griffin Moss and Sabine Strohem, at turns enigmatic, sumptuous, and romantic, reveals dangerous undercurrents and strange forces at work in the universe. These powers have only grown stronger with the couple’s disappearance. Nothing is heard from them for quite some time, until Sabine asks Matthew Sedon, a young archaeologist working in Egypt, for help. As Matthew is reluctantly drawn into the intrigue, he finds encouragement from his strong-willed girlfriend, Isabella de Reims. Miles away in Paris, Isabella struggles with glimpses of fabled landscapes and vivid fantasias that come to her in waking dreams. Slowly Matthew and Isabella realize that to unlock this secret world is to open the door to their deepest yearnings.

My Thoughts:
While I had read the original Griffin & Sabine trilogy years ago, this is the first time I’ve read the follow up books that came along ten years later.

In this book two new correspondents are introduced, lovers Matthew and Isabella. Initially their postcards seem similar to those of Griffin & Sabine. When Matthew starts getting cards from Sabine from place he cannot find on any map, the mystery expands. Sabine leads Matthew to the box containing all of her correspondence with Griffin. When Matthew and later Isabella read them the mysterious connection becomes more complex. Isabella sees similarities to unexplained visions she’s been having and then she starts getting postcards and letters from Griffin.

These books are so beautifully formatted and illustrated. The postcards and the envelopes containing letters add to the sense of spying on someone else’s lives.

I enjoyed this continuation of the original trilogy and am quite curious to see where the journey through these letters and cards will take me. There are certainly plenty of unanswered questions.

4 stars Rating 4/5

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The Golden Mean by Nick Bantock

Posted by on Apr 1, 2016 in 2016, 4 stars, Book Review, Nick Bantock | 0 comments

The Golden Mean by Nick Bantock

The Golden Mean: in which the extraordinary correspondence of Griffin & Sabine concludes written and illustrated by Nick Bantock

Genre: Epistolary Fiction
Format: Hardcover
Series: #3 in the Griffin & Sabine series
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Publication Date: 1993
Pages: 48
Source: Purchased

*Note I’m posting about this series every Friday until I finish. I am not attempting to be spoiler free so if you haven’t read the previous books in the series you have been warned.

The Book:
From the publisher:

Sabine — I was sure I understood. Yet you were not here when I returned and there was no sign that you ever had been here…. Today comes your card saying you were in this house for three days after my return. I am bewildered. I need you badly. — Griffin

In this volume of the phenomenal, best-selling quartet begun with Griffin & Sabine and continued in Sabine’s Notebook, the mystery of the two artists deepens, their questions grow more urgent. New obstacles (including a sinister intruder) test the tenacity of their passion, and in each letter or postcard, painting and prose are even more richly intertwined.

My Thoughts:
Except it doesn’t really conclude because there’s a related trilogy and brand new Griffin and Sabine book.

After ending Sabine’s Notebook with not only a cliffhanger but a mystery, Bantock keeps the story going and raises far more questions than he provides answers.

How did Griffin and Sabine miss each other? Are they unable to exist in the same place and time? Are they both real? And who is this guy who is suddenly writing to Griffin and wanting information about Sabine and their relationship?

If you’re expecting to find all the answers at the end change your expectations. I am sure there are as many people who loved the ending as there are that hated it.

There is such a voyeuristic thrill due to the format of the book. Reading someone else’s correspondence feels a bit like spying. The artwork is absolutely amazing and is as much a part of the story as the letters and postcards.

I loved rereading this series after many years. I am going to read Bantock’s second related trilogy before diving into the new book The Pharos Gate

4 stars Rating 4/5

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Sabine’s Notebook by Nick Bantock

Posted by on Mar 25, 2016 in 2016, 4 stars, Book Review, Nick Bantock | 2 comments

Sabine’s Notebook by Nick Bantock

Sabine’s Notebook: in which the extraordinary correspondence of Griffin & Sabine continues written and illustrated by Nick Bantock

Genre: Epistolary Fiction
Format: Hardcover
Series: #2 in the Griffin & Sabine series
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Publication Date: 1992
Pages: 48
Source: Purchased

*Note I’m posting about this series every Friday until I finish. I am not attempting to be spoiler free so if you haven’t read the previous books in the series you have been warned.

The Book:
From the publisher:

Griffin & Sabine, the most creative and talked-about bestseller of 1991, left readers on the edge of a precipice. With Sabine’s Notebook, they begin—along with Griffin—the fall. Once again, the story is told through strangely beautiful postcards and richly decorated letters that must actually be pulled from their envelopes to be read. But this volume is also a sketchbook and diary kept by the possibly unreal Sabine, who is living in Griffin’s house in London while he wanders through Europe, North Africa, and Asia, backwards through layers of ancient civilizations—and of himself.

Filled with her delicately macabre drawings and notations, the notebook adds a darker element of visual intrigue to their complex and mysterious world. For the thousands who finished Griffin & Sabine and asked, “What happened next?,” this second volume in the quartet provides the answers—but raises new and even more haunting questions of its own.

My Thoughts:
After ending the previous book with a cliffhanger, Bantock keeps things mysterious as the correspondence between Griffin Moss and the mysterious Sabine continues. The artwork and the experience of reading the story via beautiful postcards and letters to be removed from envelopes add both a visual and tactile element to the story.

Is Sabine a figment of Griffin’s imagination or is it the other way around? As Griffin travels the world and Sabine becomes familiar with London the questions remain unanswered and increasingly more complex.

I enjoyed this series when I read it many years ago and I’m enjoying it all over again as I prepare to read the books I haven’t read and the new one just released.

4 stars Rating 4/5

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