Peter & Max is a stand alone novel set in the Fables-universe of author Bill Willingham. Fans of Fables will be familiar with the folk and fairy tale personalities that show up in the story. However, those who haven't read the series need not worry. You don't need to be a fan of even very familiar with Fables in order to enjoy the book (though you should be so do yourself a favor and pick up Fables asap).Peter & Max is the story of Peter and Max Piper of Pied Piper fame. Their entire family is part of a traveling minstrel show. One dark night, soldiers invade their lands the family is torn apart. Alone and scared, Peter becomes a thief to survive. Max, having gone down a dark path, works to perfect his dark magic. He vows that one day, he will find and kill Peter, taking the flute which he believes should have rightfully been passed down to him. Hundreds of years pass and Peter is living a quiet life in a new world with his wife, Bo Peep, when he learns that Max has been spotted. Knowing the death and darkness that Max brings, Peter leaves on a quest to find his long lost brother and end their feud once and for all. I didn't know much about the legend of the Pied Piper before reading this book. Most of what I remember is from an old Tom & Jerry cartoon. However, I was quickly pulled into the story of Peter Piper and his brother Max. The story shifts perspective between Peter and Max and we see through each of their eyes the events that end up shaping them and eventually pulling them apart. Max's descent into darkness is fascinating to watch and he definitely creeped me out.Willingham does a fine job of translating the Fables world into a full length book. He blends what we already know about a story with his own ideas so that it is one seamless world. Like many traditional fairy tales, Peter and Max is at times dark and violent. It's a world where wondrous and terrible things happen and where not every ending is a happy one. Lovely black and white illustrations by Steve Leialoha add to its storybook quality. For Fables fans it's a nice addition to the Fables universe. For fans of dark fairy tales or modern retellings of classic tales, it's a quick and fun read.