Amy Brown, The Art of Amy Brown (Chimera Publishing, 2003)
Norm Hood & E. Letta Davis (editors), Amy Brown (art), The Art of Amy Brown II (Chimera Publishing, 2005)

Odds are you've seen Amy Brown's work. You might not realize it's hers, but her instantly reocognizable fairies have been available as prints, ornaments, and on cards and tins for over a decade now. And, thanks to Chimera Publishing, there's now two lovely volumes chock full of her own particular style of fantasy art. The first book was originally released in 2003, while the second was released at the end of 2005. Charles de Lint provides the introduction to the first, while author Tamora Pierce opens the second.

The review editions are paperback, but over-sized as they are, they have the heft of a hardback. Both covers are gorgeous, being full-sized images of two of Brown's darker-toned paintings. Inside, both books have over 150 pages of glossy colour reprints, each titled and with a snippet of text about the painting from Brown (this is the one element too frequently missing from similar art books). In the first volume, the paintings are arranged alphabetically by title; in the second, the organization is more thematic, placing together similarly themed images, or images from a single series. The latter organization is preferable for those of us who like to compare and contrast an artist's works (the alpahbetical index at the back can be used to find individual images).

Brown is very fond of fairies, so they and their close relatives sprites, spirits, angels and mermaids abound in both volumes. There's also garogoyles, a dormouse, unicorns, and a variety of elegant dragons. There's even a Green Man and a Green Woman! Female characters far outnumber the men, but there's a few of the latter peeking out from the pages. Brown is particularly adept at rendering cloth and wings, often depicted in varying stages of raggedness. Her use of tattoos is also excellent, her fairies sporting vines, hearts, butterflies and tribal patterns on their bodies.

With over 300 illustrations, these two volumes together are a fantastic retrospective of a popular, talented fantasy artist, particularly for those unfamiliar with her work.

Amy Brown's artwork can be found online at her Web site.

[April Gutierrez]