The Griffin and Sabine Trilogy by Nick Bantock: Book Review

The Griffin and Sabine Trilogy is not a new book series. The trilogy of epistolary novels (novels that tell a story through documents, letters, etc.) were published in 1991-93. The novels are enchanting, like grown-up pop-up books that allow the reader to open up envelopes and read through the characters’ correspondence.

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I feel so sneaky reading someone else’s mail!

Each page features removable and lushly-drawn postcards or letters.

The first novel of the series is Griffin & Sabine: An Extraordinary Correspondence. What struck me first about the novel was the caution on the back of the book jacket, which read that some of the artwork is considered disturbing and that the book is definitely only intended for adult audiences. Hmm… disturbing in what way? Well played, sir author; you have piqued my interest.

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My favorite of Griffin’s postcards from his company, Gryphon Cards

DELVING INTO the story, the reader becomes engrossed in the two characters’ lives. Griffin Moss is an artist making a living in London by making postcards. He doesn’t realize it, but he is terribly lonely and depressed.

Enter Sabine Strohem. Sabine is a woman Griffin has never met or heard of. Her cryptic postcard arrives at Griffin’s door from the fictional South Pacific Sicmon Islands. Griffin is immediately taken with her and the two begin to correspond regularly. The descriptive language of the letter-exchange paired with the characters’ clearly defined voices makes the reader forget that Griffin and Sabine are not actual living people (sadly).

During their correspondence, the nature of their connection is revealed (and boy was my mind blown! I do not say that lightly). Griffin also comes to realize that he is falling in love with Sabine who reciprocates his feelings.

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However, through the letter exchange, Griffin confronts some painful truths from his past and begins to question his and Sabine’s relationship along with her true nature. Sabine suggests she visit Griffin in London, but Griffin’s fear and uncertainty force him to reject her offer.

Is she a mythical dark force he evoked to relieve his extreme loneliness or is she his soulmate, his true love?

All facts seem to point to the conclusion that Sabine is indeed a figment of Griffin’s imagination… until an ominous promise appears in postcard-form:

sabine

And so we are left on a glorious cliffhanger, until…

Sabine’s Notebook: In Which the Extraordinary Correspondence of Griffin & Sabine Continues the second novel in the series picks up after the dark ending of the first book.

Sabine, who could very well be a figment of Griffin’s imagination, threatens to become personified, and Griffin runs. Far.

sabine2As Sabine arrives in Europe and sets herself up to stay at Griffin’s studio apartment, Griffin journeys through Europe, North Africa and Asia, backwards through civilizations, peeling back layers of ancient worlds – and possibly himself?

In this second volume, readers have a different, darker and visually expressive experience of the letter exchange from Sabine’s perspective as they, the readers, continue to grapple with the reality of her existence – real or imagined?

With Griffin geographically anchored in Europe in the first novel, it was easy to imagine Sabine as an imaginary friend, writing from a fictional island. However, reading the second novel from her eyes, more questions are indeed answered, but even more haunting questions are raised.

So as to not spoil the ending for anyone, I’ll not quote the final line of the novel, however, rest assured that it is trippy. Very, very wonderfully trippy.

*          *          *

THERE ARE THREE other novels in the Griffin & Sabine series:

The Pharos Gate: Griffin & Sabine’s Missing Correspondence

The Gryphon: In Which the Extraordinary Correspondence of Griffin & Sabine Is Rediscovered

The Golden Mean: In Which the Extraordinary Correspondence of Griffin & Sabine Concludes

postcard

I won’t share any more information on the story because it is just too exciting to rob you of the journey of uncovering it yourself. The only complaint I have about the experience of reading the books was that it ended too quickly. Since the series is entirely made up of letters, the reader reads one letter, then moves on to the next postcard quickly. The whole series can be knocked out in less than an afternoon.

HOWEVER, that said, it is a testament to the author’s skill that so much detail, emotion, different character voices, mystery and intrigue can fit into a 50-page book. Especially when the book contains strong themes of romance, Greek mythology, Jungian psychology, mindreading/ telepathy and defying space/time.

I have to say when I was Googling pictures for this blog post, I found a Mystical Wedding Inspiration from Griffin & Sabine that would absolutely be what Griffin and Sabine’s wedding would look like if they end up together in the end of the series… which they may/ may not and if Sabine even exists at all…

I give the series 5/5 rightfully-deserved Griffons:

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logo3Curated with love by Sam

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