Penny Dreadful: Review: The Art and Making of Penny Dreadful

Penny Dreadful bookBy Sharon Gosling

Titan Books, out now

An indepth look behind the scenes of the first season of the Showtime/Sky Atlantic series…

Way back in the dim and distant past (and to my horror, I realise that it was 15 years ago now!) Titan came up with the idea of producing books that would be tied in to the making of TV shows. The first of these was based on the Jim Henson show Farscape, which, like most of the series eventually covered (including Penny Dreadful), was a blend of live action and special effects in which the seeming impossible was achieved in a studio. Unlike some similar tomes, the Titan books gave due precedence to input from the makers of the series, not just its stars.

That template has served Titan well and while the black and white paperbacks of the Farscape days have morphed into full-colour coffee table books, they still hook the reader with facts, anecdotes and previously unseen material. Sharon Gosling’s book on Penny Dreadful, beautifully designed by Amazing 15, is not just a fascinating peek behind the curtain on everything from the literary antecedents of the series to its intricately created sets and tweaks to history, but a thing of beauty in its own right – the care that’s gone into its preparation clear on every page.

It’s not perhaps a book to delve into if you aren’t aware of the twists and turns of the series – there are plenty of spoilers for the episodes broadcast to date – but if you’ve wondered about the how (and sometimes the why) of Penny Dreadful, then this is for you.

Verdict: A well-crafted indispensable companion. 10/10

Paul Simpson

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