There are books that feel like we stumbled upon a bundle of letters while rummaging an old dusty trunk forgotten in the attic and when you start to touch those mementos, images would parade out before your eyes, unbidden and lingering. This is one of them.
The first of the Morning Star Trilogy, The Gryphon follows the beloved Griffin & Sabine Trilogy, an intriguing tale and mystery about balance and harmony and strange forces in the universe, and what happened to the fates of Griffin Moss and Sabine Strohem. We are now introduced to the lovers Matthew, a young archaeologist working in Egypt and Isabella, a student in Paris; and their story starts when Matthew receives a mysterious postcard from a stranger living in Paolo who claims acquaintance. At about the same time, Isabella is also visited by unexplained visions of mythic landscapes and surreal creatures. From their long distance correspondence, another secret enchanting world is slowly revealed to them, pressing into the realities of Matthew and Isabella, and with it a sinister presence of unknown danger yet to come.
In the style of Bantock's artistic illustrations, their story is unveiled through a series of letters and rich postcards, some done by hand and some typewritten. The sentiments of Matthew and Isabella is wrought with passionate longing for each other and confusion over the sudden appearance of Griffin and Sabine's letters, whose origins are quite unknown and who speak of unworldly things that seemed to entwine and will affect their lives together.
When I mentioned about of letters and postcards, I mean it in a literal sense and not just black printed words on pages. The book, along with the rest of the trilogies, is a different kind of storytelling (imagine yourself pulling out handwritten letters and old tickets and photos out of envelopes). It is a beautiful body of work for which I am greatly fond of. The series books are definitely collectibles. It brings intimacy to the readers as if the characters were long dead people and we are just now discovering their tale. Full of intrigue and the exploration of insights and deepest yearnings, readers will be drawn into the fantastical elements of the drama and curiosity of exploring the rest of Nick Bantock's works.
The whole trilogy could be read, technically, in less than an hour but the key to appreciate it more is to read it slowly and gaze at the postcards and wonder what all the hidden mysteries mean as the story unfolds into something much bigger than Matthew and Isabella could ever imagine.
Title: "The Gryphon: In Which the Extraordinary Correspondence of Griffin & Sabine Is Rediscovered"
Author: Nick Bantock
Genre: Fantasy, Mystery, Romance
Published: 2001 Hardcover
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Rating: ♨♨♨♨♨ (5 cups. Worth to keep if only for the dreamy illustrations and imagery of the postcards. An alluring read and from one letter to the next evokes a sense of mystery.)