Have you seen the movie? Jim Henson’s brilliant and creepy Labyrinth left me pining after David Bowie (he’ll never look the same to you after you see him play Jareth the Goblin King) and longing for a parallel universe of my own to slip away into should the need arise. From where I’m sitting Return to Labyrinth is a pretty skillful homage to one of Henson’s best projects (and maybe to some of his most fanatical fans), but for those of you who are new to the world of Labyrinth I’m guessing it’ll still be a good read.
The curtain rises (literally!) on Tobey our teenage protagonist, catching him in the midst of accidentally ruining the school play and damaging his already tarnished reputation for good. One disaster piles atop another, building from a fight with his overbearing mother to a failed pop quiz to a puzzling encounter with the schools new “guidance counselor.” This suspiciously pointy-eared and good-looking character is seen on campus just long enough to ruin Tobey’s academic record forever before leaping out a third storey window and disappearing. Things just get weirder from here. Tobey’s family ignores him, his ability to finish homework is severely compromised, and a furry imp steals his history paper and runs off with it down a mysterious tunnel in the back of his closet. At the other end of this closet/rabbit hole (references to the Narnia series and Alice in Wonderland duly noted) Tobey stumbles into the world of the Labyrinth where super-hot goblin Jareth (sorry, I can’t help it!) is King and nothing is what it seems … including Tobey himself.