I've mentioned before how much I loved reading the newspaper comics as a kid but I was also a big fan of comic books, although I usually preferred the ones that were actually "comic" over what are now called "graphic novels." I remember riding my bike to Stimson's market and Earl's Pharmacy to buy them for 35 or 40 cents - my favorites being Uncle Scrooge, Donald Duck, and stuff like that. I still have most of them, too - but unfortunately, the funny ones aren't nearly as valuable or sought after as the serious ones. And the few serious ones I have don't seem to be all that valuable either (especially since I actually read all my comic books - over and over, in fact - as opposed to later kids who stored theirs in plastic).
I enjoy stories that employ interesting twists on familiar ideas such as the fairy tale folk in this one. And it's very clever and sometimes amusing the way such familiar stories work here (like "Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers" or "Peter Peter pumpkin eater..."). But I read fairy tales to my kids when they were younger and I'm well aware that some of them are surprisingly dark (Hansel & Gretel, Rumplestiltskin, etc.) and Mr. Willingham puts the "graphic" in his graphic novels - and this text novel is no exception. The violence, in my opinion, makes the book unsuitable for family listening and inappropriate for children (this wasn't clear on the online description). And a few scattered profanities seem unusually harsh with the backdrop of children's stories
But while I found the idea very clever the writing isn't as good. Story flow which might work in art form doesn't flow as well in text, even though I could see in my mind how it would have looked in a comic book. Also, the back and forth between past and present is sometimes maintained with short useless chapters that interrupt more than provide continuity to both halves of the story - again, works fine in a comic book but not here. But the transformation of Max from jealous older son into a cold-blooded murderer was entirely unconvincing in the telling - one moment he's simply a petulant kid and the next a ruthless and brutal killer. So, while part of me kind of enjoyed the story, the other part was disappointed to find out after I'd received it that it's for "mature" readers (you should know by know I'm not all that "mature"). But I thought it deserved a mention even if the writing wasn't as clever as the idea.