ARC REVIEW: “Pan’s Labyrinth” by Guillermo del Toro & Cornelia Funke

Pan's Labyrinth: The Labyrinth of the Faun

Title: Pan’s Labyrinth
Author: Guillermo del Toro and Cornelia Funke
Pages: 272

Release Date: July 2 2019
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Format: Hardcover

Genre: Fantasy
Goodreads Rating:  4.42 (3.31 of  ratings)


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Inspired by the critically acclaimed film written and directed by Oscar winner Guillermo del Toro and reimagined by New York Times bestselling author Cornelia Funke, this haunting tale takes readers to a darkly magical and war-torn world filled with richly drawn characters like trickster fauns, murderous men, child-eating monsters, courageous rebels, and a long-lost princess hoping to be reunited with her family.


Disclaimer: I received this ARC courtesy of HCC Frenzy through direct request. I am grateful for the opportunity to review an ARC for my readers, but this will not influence my final rating. All opinions expressed in this review are my own and based solely on the book. 

Hi, please enjoy the emotional wreck I became upon hearing of Pan’s Labyrinth‘s(book) existence before we glide into this review:


I won’t spend several paragraphs gushing about my love for the original Pan’s Labyrinth, although yes that passion exists and yes that is what drew me to the book edition in the first place. My first assumption of the book, on seeing the cover, was that it was a graphic novel adaptation. I was wrong, this is in truth a movie novelization, but there are original stories and illustrations included. So, yes, a mistake, but let me just tell you why I ended up happier with the novelization.

(i) it’s a retelling. why shouldn’t i just watch the movie?

Pan’s Labyrinth was greatly written and immediately drew me into the world of Ofelia, the Faun, and the vicious Captain. Because I’ve already seen the movie, reading the book now enriched my knowledge of the characters. I gained insight into motivations, into dreams that were never spoken. More than once I found myself “omg!”-ing aloud when secret looks in the movie suddenly gained context. Not going to lie, I felt like someone was whispering classified PL secrets to me the whole time.

Had I done the two in reverse order, the film’s stunning costumes, scenery, and acting would have brought magic to life in front of my eyes. In my opinion, there is no wrong way to take in the book and movie duo—although I can vouch that reading the book second (in this case!) worked amazing for me.

(ii) you said something about illustrations? 

I cannot get over how absolutely beautiful this book is. Every single page has an illustration of a tree along the side, with creatures peering out of the darkness in a knot in the bark. Such a tiny detail added to the atmosphere throughout my reading.

(can more books be this effortlessly gorgeous, please?)

Also, as if this wasn’t enough, every few chapters there was a full page illustration depicting a scene from the movie. I don’t know if I’m happy or creeped out (okay, I’m happy) that there was a detailed drawing of the Pale Man. Also known as the eyeless creature that eats children.

man GIF


(iii) i’m still wondering why i need a book version of the movie though?

My favourite, absolutely favourite part of Pan’s Labyrinth (the book) were all the original short stories included in the book. I learned the backstories to a few of the characters of the film, as well as more on some mythical characters mentioned in passing. In these short stories, the writing really shone. I felt swept off into a place where people could be both mothers and witches, where a labyrinth could grow to inspire and haunt and welcome back its princess.

(iv) i still don’t know. maybe i should read another book altogether.

Okay. There’s one last thing I can try. Telling you about the Actual Story. Who is this Ofelia? What is a Faun and what does it have to do with a princess and oh, um, a war?

The book begins quite simply with young Ofelia and her pregnant mother heading to a mill in Spain, where Ofelia’s mother will join her new husband. This man is the Captain, leading the hunt against republican rebels. The beauty of this story is its ability to work on two levels: to show the brutality of the Captain’s war against the rebel fighters while also showing Ofelia’s purity of spirit as she escapes into her fairy tales. These two worlds are not entirely separate! The way they weave together is altogether fascinating.

(v) okay. i think you sold me on this. 

This is not a book you’ll regret picking up. The more I think about it, I’m realizing you’re getting a two-for-one with it. Both the book and the movie offer a glimpse into each other … and both are simply amazing to enjoy. Read the book, get into the movie. Or watch the movie, get into the book. Do them at the same time!


rating: This book gets a Tiana rating because it is so atmospheric. Magic and mystery ooze from the page thanks to the authors’ prose and the well-crafted illustrations. 
this book takes place in Spain, with characters of presumably Spanish descent
content warnings: murder, death of a principal character, descriptions of torture, mass death

What do you think? Let’s discuss in the comments below!

shalogo (1)

16 thoughts on “ARC REVIEW: “Pan’s Labyrinth” by Guillermo del Toro & Cornelia Funke

    1. I was practically in tears when I got my hands on this copy. I re-read all the original short stories, playing master sleuth to see how everything connected too. It’s so brilliant, I’m in love. I hope you get a copy soon!


    1. I never knew I needed a novel adaptation of this movie, and yet this one made my passion for Pan’s Labyrinth grow in multitudes. You should definitely look into adding it to your collection. And yes! The cover is sooo gorgeous, it and the illustrations inside made my reading experience just perfect.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Okay, I have to convince you’ve convinced me that this movie/ book combo is the most fantastic duo! And I think that’s pretty rare. Usually when movies get books or vice versa, one outshines the other instead of working in tandem like this pair seems to have done! Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Woo! I’m proud of myself for this convincing job. (aka job of convincing, not job that was convincing. or maybe both?) I was nervous too, just as you said, books and movies don’t usually compliment themselves. But this duo goes amazingly well together.


  2. Great review Sha! I love the movie as well. The book doesn’t really add much then does it? I’ll give it a shot and see for sure 🙂 but I might lower my expectations a bit


    1. Oh, no. I’m sorry if I gave that impression, because I fully felt like the book added to my enjoyment of the movie. The short stories within the book are completely original and added a lot of new depth to the film. (Without feeling forced.) I think the book is completely worthwhile.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s all good lol. I do wonder why they make a book so similar to the movie. I was curious if the author was gonna make any twists or changes. But I’m glad you liked it 🙂 no worries

        Liked by 1 person

      2. In my opinion, it can be because fans like to own movie copies and then books as well. And maybe people prefer a written version. Also the movie is in Italian, so if you don’t like subtitles, you can just read it and then watch the screen. Who knows. An interesting question for sure. At the end of the day, money probably factors in.


  3. This book was so gorgeous and I love that Cornelia wrote it!
    I was really happy to see that even though it was Pan’s lab, she was able to sneak in a little bit about books into the story. When Cornelia writes you can tell she loves not only the stories contained within books, but the books themselves as well and I love it!


  4. You just had to use the gift of the creepy hand monster, didn’t you Sha. I HAD NIGHTMARES AFTER SEEING IT THE FIRST TIME. Besides that, this was an excellent review Sha, I’m glad you enjoyed it 🙂


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