In The Burning Girl, Molly finds that her stay in fairyland may be extended indefinitely. Tricked by Titania into making a classic mistake, Molly’s fury sparks an all-out war for the future of the fairy realm. The struggle between fairyland and Hell, in which Rieber and Gross throw some light on fairyland’s origins, is the focus of the sixth volume. The conflict eventually reaches Tim, although his powers prove unnecessary. Tim’s attempts to learn about his magic by using it continue to be frustrated, as Zatanna is reluctant to take him on as a student. As Tim gropes for a purpose in life, Molly returns to the human world only to find herself irrevocably changed. Tim’s confusion makes him oblivious to her anguish, and he risks driving away the one person who can keep him grounded. All Tim’s friends and mentors seem to have decided to let him flounder, and the end of The Burning Girl finds him no closer to understanding his powers.
Artistically, The Burning Girl is one of the loveliest and most inventive chapters in the series. It has moments of cleverness–Rieber and Gross create an interesting back story for fairyland with some elements of British Isles lore, and there’s a fascinating (if disappointingly unresolved) sequence with a group of children raised by a rebel librarian in the American west. Unfortunately, the writing is still not up to the standard of the first books. Tim’s story continues to advance slowly, if at all, and the characters we have come to love seem robbed of the satisfying resolutions we’ve come to hope for. Librarians will want to be aware of a slight increase in the use of profanity in this volume, as well as a few panels of sensuality.
The Books of Magic, vol. 6: The Burning Girl
Written by John Ney Rieber and Peter Gross
Art by Peter Gross and Peter Snejbjerg
DC Comics/Vertigo, 2000