Written by: Siddhartha Krishnan . 3 Min Read
The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy, felt like a warm hug on a cold winter night. It had the magic of Julia Donaldson, the simplicity of Dr. Seuss, and the innocence of Roald Dahl. Yet, it manages to deliver something rare. I listened to the nearly one-hour long audible version narrated by the author, and for most parts, I felt like Charlie in the Chocolate Factory. However, this is not a children’s book, although it looks like one. This graphic novel serves little nuggets of profound thoughts with humility, garnished with rare grace.
The story is about four unlikely friends who are in search of their ‘home’. They meet on the way and encounter some magical, some mundane, and some terrifying moments. There goes a saying that nothing comes into your life without teaching you something. This book echoes that thought perfectly.
At times, one could feel that the four characters could have been the same person at different stages of one’s life. Hence, the idea to tell the story through conversations was a great idea. This aspect of the storytelling reminded me of a book that I had read last year, Hermann Hesse’s—Siddhartha. The use of animals and fantasy also reminded me of the stories from the Panchatantra, Aesop Fables, and Arabian Nights, evoking nostalgia.
It is difficult to find faults in books like these, and that could be frustrating for a reviewer because our objective mind reminds us that nothing is perfect. While that is true, it is also true that very rarely do you come across a book that exudes empathy like this one does. It embraces everyone no matter what your beliefs with the same warmth. Therefore, it is not surprising that the book is so popular.
People are calling The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse, a book for the difficult times we live in. Bracketing it into that category is unfair, I feel. I think this book will turn out to be a timeless classic appealing to generations after us. Moreover, humanity has been in crisis at several points in its history. And we’ve found ways to get through those difficult times, with kindness, reasoning, co-operation, and great storytelling.
I knew that the hardcover is adorned with stunning pencil sketches by the author, yet I chose to listen to the audible version because the story was narrated by the author himself. At the end of it, I felt I had made the right choice. I am not a big fan of re-creations of written words in a studio but this felt different. The author has narrated his words with the same passion that he wrote. That he has a great voice, was the icing on the cake. Hence, even without his beautiful illustrations—the river, the mountains, the storm, and the sounds of nature came alive for me. I could magically see what he had drawn. But I am still going to buy the illustrated version because this one is to be treasured. Also, this is a book that you will keep going back to.
Finally, there are books that stir—some evoke, others provoke, but this is meant to heal. This one stirs your conscience and makes you more accepting of the world. It should be read by all.
Siddhartha Krishnan is the author of Two and a Half Rainbows – A Collection of Short Stories. He is also an enthusiastic blogger and, on his website, www.whatsonsidsmind.com, he regularly puts out his essays, articles, travelogues and movie reviews.
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This is a lovely book. I love Charlie’s whimsical illustrations and his profound empathy. I read the book, but I think that I should listen to the audio version as well. It will be a real treat to listen to Charlie Mackesy narrate the story.
Agreed, the empathy in the storytelling felt so warm, accepting and disarming. It’s a rare quality! Thanks!