The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains, written by Neil Gaiman and illustrated by Eddie Campbell, is neither pure prose nor a graphic novel. It is a story with pictures, unlike any other that I have come across before. Both the language and artwork are dark, rich and deep; evocative of the Scottish islands in which the tale is set. It moved me in a way that unsettled yet delighted; brutal, mystical, a parable for our time.
I do not read e-books. I have no problem if others choose to consume their literature in this way but, for me, there is something special in holding a physical book. The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountain is a thing of tactile beauty, a book that deserves time and appreciation for so much more than the tale which it tells. Some pages have few words, the artwork saying all that is needed to draw the reader in. Other pages paint the pictures with prose that is sparse yet efficacious. The occasional use of comic strips is effective proof that this medium should not be casually dismissed.
The book is a story of two men on a journey, strangers travelling to a cave filled with cursed treasure to which only one knows the way. It is a tale of greed and survival, but conveys so much more. At its heart is loss, a tragedy, a desire for revenge, and the ultimate shallowness of achieving that for which we yearn.
It will not take long to read, but expect what unfolds to remain as the contents are pondered over time. It is a book that should be read, reread, flicked through and discussed with others. It has touched me in a way that few books do, an assault on the mind and the senses, powerful, harsh, but above all alluring.
My copy of this book was provided gratis by the publisher, Headline.