Don’t call them graphic novels, or illustrated books. They are “novels in pictures.” The bestselling Chicago author of “The Time Traveler’s Wife” released the impossibly rich and enchanting “The Three Incestuous Sisters” last year, one of the best books delivered by a local author in 2005, a fever dream of Edward Gorey-like mischief and intrigue. Now comes “The Adventuress,” which follows an alchemist’s daughter as she’s kidnapped by a baron, turns herself into a moth and falls for a butterfly collector called Napoleon. Niffenegger’s sparse prose tells the tale of how the two tragically slip from each other’s arms, all with a little wink, a sly gesture that’s as smooth as cream and aching with dusk. Niffenegger’s done it again, and while “The Adventuress” may not be as, well, dark as “The Three Incestuous Sisters,” it’s still very much a pure exercise in gothic virtuosity. (Tom Lynch)
Audrey Niffenegger discusses “The Adventuress” November 30, 2006 at Women and Children First, 5233 North Clark, (773)769-9299, at 7:30pm. Free.