The Sandman Presents:
Thessaly, Witch for Hire

by Bill Willingham
& Shawn McManus
(Vertigo, 2005)

One of the more enigmatic characters in the unfathomable world that is Neil Gaiman's The Sandman, Thessaly has also become one of the most endearing. She is a waifishly cute witch of the bookish, granola variety at first glance, but more of the powerful and ruthless type once you get to know her.

In Witch for Hire, Thessaly is saddled with a fetch, a ghost-like being comprising the souls of the many thousands of people killed by the witch over the millennia-long existence. She's also being attacked by a variety of vile beasts, and the fetch is seemingly the cause. But he's so darn charming, after all....

Thessaly finds herself faced with a force of chaos so powerful that it can't be killed. But since failing to best it means dying herself, she's quite motivated to prove the legends wrong. She's even less pleased to learn the creature has been set on her by a minor mage who wants his own slate wiped clean.

The climax of Witch for Hire seems a little anticlimatic, to be honest, but the journey getting there is loads of fun. Bill Willingham, creator of the Fables series, has taken Gaiman's lead and run with the character, and her development here is spot on. Shawn McManus has illustrated the book with a fable-like gloss that makes even the most disgusting bits -- vomiting frogs, stuffing eyeballs in jars, you know the sort of thing -- look innocent as pink bunnies.

I certainly hope Thessaly has more in store for us soon. In the meantime, Witch for Hire is a good place to visit again.

by Tom Knapp
22 July 2006

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