Tag Archives: Fairy tale

The Bloody Chamber & Other Stories by Angela Carter

22 Feb

The Bloody Chamber & Other Stories

author : angela carter

pages : 126

memorable quote:

She herself is a haunted house. She does not possess herself; her ancestors sometimes come and peer out of the windows of her eyes and that is very frightening

summary :

From familiar fairy tales and legends – Red Riding Hood, Bluebeard, Puss-in-Boots, Beauty and the Beast, vampires, werewolves – Angela Carter has created an absorbing collection of dark, sensual, fantastic stories.

review :

I had to read this collection of fairy tales for an independent study I’m doing. While they weren’t my favorite retellings, I think that these stories are not only well-written but also thought provoking. They’re tales that will leave you to think. You won’t just ponder the connection to and differences from the original story and Carter’s version. You’ll also think through your own interpretation of the endings, as well as the symbolism that crops up in each story.

Though this collection was short, it’s sure to stand out. The stories are bloody. Many of them aren’t happy. But that seems to be a trend, not only in modern retellings but in the original stories themselves! All of us like to hear a good story with a happily ever after but things don’t always work out that way. Carter doesn’t seem foreign to that concept, though she does put her own spin on the idea of a ‘realistic’, unhappy ending. There’s no tragedy simply for the sake of it. It’s impressive, the way she weaves her words together and makes even the smallest of instances in her stories seem to have the biggest share of the impact.

I’d recommend this collection to anyone with an avid interest in fairy tales. While there are other retellings that I’ll pick up to read over and over again, I’m not sure that this collection will be among them even though it is very well-done. I think that it’s worth at least one read and many will like it even more than I did.

3/5 stars

The Stepsister’s Tale by Tracy Barrett

22 Dec

The Stepsister’s Tale

author : tracy barrett

pages : [hardcover] 272

favorite character : will

summary :

What really happened after the clock struck midnight?

Jane Montjoy is tired of being a lady. She’s tired of pretending to live up to the standards of her mother’s noble family-especially now that the family’s wealth is gone and their stately mansion has fallen to ruin. It’s hard enough that she must tend to the animals and find a way to feed her mother and her little sister each day. Jane’s burden only gets worse after her mother returns from a trip to town with a new stepfather and stepsister in tow. Despite the family’s struggle to prepare for the long winter ahead, Jane’s stepfather remains determined to give his beautiful but spoiled child her every desire.

When her stepfather suddenly dies, leaving nothing but debts and a bereaved daughter behind, it seems to Jane that her family is destined for eternal unhappiness. But a mysterious boy from the woods and an invitation to a royal ball are certain to change her fate…

From the handsome prince to the evil stepsister, nothing is quite as it seems in Tracy Barrett’s stunning retelling of the classic Cinderella tale.

review :

I don’t think that I’ve ever read a Cinderella retelling from a stepsister’s point of view, though I have frequently heard about them. I wasn’t sure how this one would be a new take on the classic tale but was eager to give it a go when I saw it at random in the library. To be honest, it was sheer luck that I saw it was a fairy tale retelling, because when I saw the cover I immediately wanted to put this back on the shelf. I know, I know–don’t judge a book by its cover. I’m assuming the one young woman on the cover is supposed to be Jane, our main character. Probably. But it looks nothing like her. The whole premise of the story is that she lives in poverty and looks nowhere near as glamorous as she should, according to her family name. I’m a sucker for any fairy tale retelling so I knew I’d give this a shot, despite the unfortunate cover.

To be honest, I shouldn’t have gotten my hopes up. While The Stepsister’s Tale did have some interesting ideas to it, none of them were executed in the right way. Actually, the story ended up being pretty boring. There would be good scenes, ones that would get me excited about the story again, and then it would drag. Nothing would happen to further character development–in fact, at the end, some characters seemed to spontaneously change their attitudes for no real reason or motivation from what I could see. And it wasn’t that the book was monotonously predictable; obviously, knowing Cinderella, any reader has certain expectations of where the story will go. I knew that. I just didn’t enjoy myself on the familiar fairy tale ride.

I still feel disappointed with this book because I feel like the characters, who were fairly interesting, weren’t enough to save the story. I needed a little oomph to invigorate the plot, something that never happened. If the book hadn’t been so short, I’m not sure that I would have been able to finish it.

I don’t think that I’ll be recommending this book because I have many other fairy tale retellings that I would recommend over this.

2/5 stars

 

Winterspell by Claire Legrand

29 Jul

Winterspell

author : claire legrand

pages :  [hardcover] 464

favorite character : anise

summary :

The clock chimes midnight, a curse breaks, and a girl meets a prince . . . but what follows is not all sweetness and sugarplums.

New York City, 1899. Clara Stole, the mayor’s ever-proper daughter, leads a double life. Since her mother’s murder, she has secretly trained in self-defense with the mysterious Drosselmeyer.

Then, on Christmas Eve, disaster strikes.

Her home is destroyed, her father abducted–by beings distinctly nothuman. To find him, Clara journeys to the war-ravaged land of Cane. Her only companion is the dethroned prince Nicholas, bound by a wicked curse. If they’re to survive, Clara has no choice but to trust him, but his haunted eyes burn with secrets–and a need she can’t define. With the dangerous, seductive faery queen Anise hunting them, Clara soon realizes she won’t leave Cane unscathed–if she leaves at all.

Inspired by The Nutcracker, Winterspell is a dark, timeless fairy tale about love and war, longing and loneliness, and a girl who must learn to live without fear.

review :

I adore stories based on fairy tales and I’ve never seen anything inspired by The Nutcracker before. I didn’t know what to expect from that and Winterspell certainly went against any thought I might have had about the story. In fact, there is no nutcracker to be seen in the near 500 pages that make up this novel. While it is an interesting read and I can appreciate the fact that it is a standalone, not drawn into a series, it just wasn’t the book for me.

I do feel like the majority of the plot was interesting or at least held enough intrigue to keep me going through the book. Perhaps the only reason that it didn’t feel long is because it concluded in this book when I was afraid a sequel would soon be coming. I hate when authors add on books that aren’t needed; I think Claire Legrand made the right choice in keeping this as one novel. I was happy with the conclusion. In fact, the ending of this book was my favorite part of it. I thought that it worked perfectly for the rest of the book and it made me think about what else could possibly happen after the action of the narrative, without leaving the book such an ambiguous ending as to frustrate me.

I also liked the world building in this book, yet I only enjoyed it in the fantasy realm and not the realistic one. It was terribly difficult to get an idea of the political structure in Clara’s ‘real’ world; I had no idea if it was only present there or if it was throughout the entire world. I had no idea what the rest of the planet was like, only getting a glimpse of Clara’s neighborhood. I liked the journey through the magical cities and warped surroundings in the fairy world much better because I had a better sense of where everything was in that layout and what exactly was happening to that society.

I think it was the characters that needed more fleshing out for me to have enjoyed this fully. We see the worlds, both fantastical and brutally realistic, through Clara’s point of view. But she switches her personality between an ass-kicking heroine to submissive debutante too many times. There doesn’t seem to be a change in her because she had the strength within her throughout the entire novel, only it never appeared when it was inconvenient for the plot. I never got a full grasp of Nicholas, either. I wish he and Clara would have had some longer dialogues together so I could have gotten a better hold on his character. Some things happened with him that I still find it hard to forgive because afterward I felt he was so absent (not always in a spacial sense) that I couldn’t hope to connect with him again.

I really wish that more had been done with Anise. She seemed like a complex character and villain; I absolutely loved reading the scenes including her because I never knew what was going to happen next. I feel like what the author tried to do with her ultimately came too abruptly and left me a little confused.

Overall, this was an okay book for me. It is definitely not one of my favorite retellings; I never would have known about the influence from The Nutcracker if it hadn’t been for the summary and a few key names in the book. There were parts of the novel that interested me but none that stood out as perfect.

3/5 stars

Wild by Alex Mallory

1 Jul

Wild

author : alex mallory

pages : [paperback] 448

favorite character : sofia

summary :

The forest is full of secrets, and no one understands that better than Cade. Foraging, hunting, surviving— that’s all he knows. Alone for years, Cade believes he’s the sole survivor. At least, until he catches a glimpse of a beautiful stranger…

Dara expected to find natural wonders when she set off for a spring break camping trip. Instead, she discovers a primitive boy— he’s stealthy and handsome and he might be following her. Intrigued, Dara seeks him out and sets a catastrophe in motion.

Thrust back into society, Cade struggles with the realization that the life he knew was a lie. But he’s not the only one. Trying to explain life in a normal town leaves Dara questioning it.

As the media swarm and the police close in, Dara and Cade risk everything to get closer. But will the truth about Cade’s past tear them apart?

A YA Tarzan retelling.

review :

This book seemed so interesting when I read the summary. I’ve never read something like a retelling of Tarzan before, though I don’t think the comparison to that well-known story does much for this book. Cade was a fascinating character. The only humans he’d communicated with, as far back as he can remember, were his parents. Now that they’re both dead he’s lived alone in the woods for three years, convinced that the rest of the world is dead or dying from a pandemic. That’s the explanation his mother always gave him for why they needed to keep themselves hidden from the world.

Unfortunately, Cade was the only fascinating portion of the story for me. Some of the plot was very easy to predict and I would skip a few pages ahead so that I could stop reading about Cade again instead of the media frenzy surrounding him or how Josh, Dara’s boyfriend, acts as a kind of antagonist and nothing more. Most of the characters lack depth and I didn’t care much for them. Even Dara, the other leading character, felt shallow. Her only ‘special’ aspect was her love of photography. I knew little else about her, except that she liked to defy everyone else to get to Cade because she felt an inexpiable connection with him . . another device that I typically don’t like to read about in YA.

While reading, I realized when there were only fifteen pages left that there was too much to say in that short amount of space. I was afraid that this book would be getting a sequel because it didn’t seem to deserve one; the plot dragged on as it was. No, instead the ending was very rushed and somehow ended up with a perfect, nonsensical ending. It left me unsatisfied.

I wouldn’t recommend this retelling because it was a good idea that was poorly executed. I liked hearing Cade’s story but it was never fully developed and he could not make up for the other, flatter characters. I do not know if I will pick up anything else by Alex Mallory.

2/5 stars

 

The Child Thief by Brom

25 Jun

The Child Thief

author : brom

pages : [hardcover] 481

memorable quote If you don’t learn to laugh at life it’ll surely kill you, that I know.

favorite characters : peter & cricket

summary :

Fourteen-year-old Nick would have been murdered by the drug dealers preying on his family had Peter not saved him. Now the irresistibly charismatic wild boy wants Nick to follow him to a secret place of great adventure, where magic is alive and you never grow old. Even though he is wary of Peter’s crazy talk of faeries and monsters, Nick agrees. After all, New York City is no longer safe for him, and what more could he possibly lose?

There is always more to lose.

Accompanying Peter to a gray and ravished island that was once a lush, enchanted paradise, Nick finds himself unwittingly recruited for a war that has raged for centuries—one where he must learn to fight or die among the “Devils,” Peter’s savage tribe of lost and stolen children.

There, Peter’s dark past is revealed: left to wolves as an infant, despised and hunted, Peter moves restlessly between the worlds of faerie and man. The Child Thief is a leader of bloodthirsty children, a brave friend, and a creature driven to do whatever he must to stop the “Flesh-eaters” and save the last, wild magic in this dying land

review :

I absolutely love fairy tale retellings and haven’t picked up too many adult novels that feature this. Peter Pan is one of my favorite stories and I was eager to see how that idea was darkened and twisted in The Child Thief. In some ways, it went exactly as I’d expected it would, with the children being led to a world not quite like Neverland, more like an ancient fairy realm no one would really like to visit. Peter is charming enough to keep the children content, most of the time, and he convinces them to fight alongside him in his quest to rid Avalon of the dangerous monsters who used to be men that are turning the magical realm apart.

I’m a little confused as to why this is considered an adult novel. Yes, there is plenty of violence in it (which I’ll get to in a moment) and some sexual implications. But I’ve seen scenes like that in YA novels and the main character of this book is fourteen years old. It was an odd mix for me but it also makes me think this book would be a good one to reach for if you’re trying to transition from YA to adult reading because of the age range of so many of the characters (ignoring the fact that while Peter acts like a teenager he’s over 900) and while this book is well-written, it certainly isn’t overwritten.

That it, if you can overlook the gratuitous violence. I would say that it worked for me, or at least didn’t bother me, until the last third of the book. At that point terrible things were happening so often that I almost didn’t care, which is the worst thing that could possibly happen in a book. I was becoming immune to all of this because I couldn’t read about all of these deaths (sometimes about characters who really weren’t mentioned before they were killed off) and feel emotion about it because by the time I registered that something tragic had happened, another terrible thing was occurring.

I don’t think slower pacing would have helped that because the novel is already over 500 pages. Perhaps if the first half had been much shorter, the actions in the latter half could have been extended. I really loved reading about Peter’s backstory, however, as well as the intricacies of the fairy world, so I wouldn’t have taken that out for anything.

If you can handle the violence and love Peter Pan, I would say to give this book a chance. While I enjoyed reading it, I do not think it is one that I will reread.

3/5 stars

Cress by Marissa Meyer

20 May

 

Cress

The Lunar Chronicles #3
Book 1: Cinder
Book 2: Scarlet

author : marissa meyer

pages : [hardcover] 550

favorite characters : cress & wolf

summary :

In this third book in the Lunar Chronicles, Cinder and Captain Thorne are fugitives on the run, now with Scarlet and Wolf in tow. Together, they’re plotting to overthrow Queen Levana and her army.

Their best hope lies with Cress, a girl imprisoned on a satellite since childhood who’s only ever had her netscreens as company. All that screen time has made Cress an excellent hacker. Unfortunately, she’s just received orders from Levana to track down Cinder and her handsome accomplice.

When a daring rescue of Cress goes awry, the group is separated. Cress finally has her freedom, but it comes at a high price. Meanwhile, Queen Levana will let nothing prevent her marriage to Emperor Kai. Cress, Scarlet, and Cinder may not have signed up to save the world, but they may be the only hope the world has.

review :

I absolutely love the Lunar Chronicles and Cress makes me love these books even more.

I’m a sucker for any books that twist fairy tales around and these books combine a few of my favorites, thus far featuring Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, and Rapunzel. What’s so wonderful about them is mostly the world these awesome characters are set in and the different challenges they face. There’s so much going on with this series I can’t even hope to explain it all. I wouldn’t ever try because I love recommending these books so much and wouldn’t want to spoil anything for people who haven’t begun them!

In this third installment to the four book series, new characters are introduced alongside the old. The book maintains the same pacing as the others in the series, with small lulls between great action scenes. The characters are so well fleshed out and I loved that the book switches point of view a few times to show off what might be happening in a different part of the world or, well, to someone floating around in space (in a satellite, not on their own. That would be silly).

If you love fairy tales and stories that are unique, you’ll love Cress. I’ve never read anything quite like this and it’s awesome to have a breath of fresh text when YA novels all begin to feel so similar. Cress is as adorable a character I’d hoped, there was much more told about the characters who were introduced in the last book, and there were plot twists in here I definitely didn’t expect. These are books that will get you dreaming about what could happen next.

I’m looking forward to and dreading the next book, Winter, because it will also be the last. I’m not ready to say goodbye to this fabulous cast of characters, especially not because the beautiful writing in Cress made me love them that much more.

I’d recommend this book to anyone.

5/5 stars

If you liked Cress you might also like Tiger Lily.

Grim: A Collection of Fairy Tale Retellings

13 May

 

Grim

editor : christine johnson

pages : [ebook] 480

summary :

Inspired by classic fairy tales, but with a dark and sinister twist, Grim contains short stories from some of the best voices in young adult literature today: 

Ellen Hopkins 
Amanda Hocking 
Julie Kagawa 
Claudia Gray 
Rachel Hawkins 
Kimberly Derting 
Myra McEntire 
Malinda Lo 
Sarah Rees-Brennan 
Jackson Pearce 
Christine Johnson 
Jeri Smith Ready 
Shaun David Hutchinson 
Saundra Mitchell 
Sonia Gensler 
Tessa Gratton 
Jon Skrovon

review :

I needed to read this anthology because one, it’s about fairy tales, and two it contains short stories by writers I love and have read before. This includes Julie Kagawa (The Iron King), Malinda Lo (Ash), Jackson Pearce (Sisters Red), and Jeri Smith Ready (Shade). As with any collection there were some hits and misses but overall I’m fairly pleased with the selection. There was a good mix of stories that were dealt with and I was glad that there weren’t too many repeats when it came to the tales. I was also excited to see some lesser-known stories getting a retelling.

My top two favorites have to be “Beauty and the Chad” by Sarah Rees-Brennan and “A Real Boy” by Claudia Gray. Both are just so fantastic that I’d really love a novel-length version of them to eat up. The first was so hilarious, I really couldn’t believe that Beauty and the Beast could be so entertaining in a new way when it’s already been done so often. “A Real Boy” was both touching and intriguing because it took so many turns that I didn’t expect and, at the end, I was left wanting to know what could happen next. Already my imagination was racing to fill in a bigger ending for myself. Any story that can trigger the imagination is awesome.

Sometimes it can be hard to predict whether a story collection will be worth reading but this is one I recommend, if only so you can check out both of those stories and tell me what you think of them! There are so many great authors included in this book but I don’t think every story was worthwhile to me. The problem I think is that most of these authors have also written novels and have more time in those to explain little details and tie up the stories neatly, whereas in these short stories interesting characters, details, or ideas might be introduced and then abandoned completely. I wanted a more rounded out tale whereas sometimes I was forced to be satisfied with less.

If you like twisted fairy tales, this might be the next book for you.

4/5 stars

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