A catfish swims the rivers of the world seeking love. A prisoner poses as the Keeper of the Sultan's Vultures and Crocodiles to lull the sultan with stories of executions.
The mother of a child born without a head is given death by breaking as a sacrificial punishment. Christopher Lord's Book of Amuwapi collects these stories with snippets of anthropology and faked etymologies to present a scrapbook of folklore he holds out as his own contribution to prehistory. Illustrated by Petr Nikl in a style recalling the French animation classic Fantastic Planet, Amuwapi is an oddly surreal work which seems like it should be read in a hothouse sweating in the mixed scents of transplanted flowers. Its beauties are similarly synthetic, the folktales removed from their climates and hybridized with children's stories and academic texts. At times, Lord's tone can sound school marmish as when his animals speak like the well-mannered beasts of Pooh's forest, but there is enough violence and variety to disperse these vapors. Like the rest of Twisted Spoon's catalogue, it is a beautiful book, and it seems made for the bedtime reading of an ideally morbid young child.