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Lies, Knives, and Girls in Red Dresses
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Lies, Knives, and Girls in Red Dresses

3.27  ·  Rating Details  ·  964 Ratings  ·  290 Reviews
Yes it's blue and Yes it tickles and Yes
he's had a lot of wives
and nobody knows what happened to them

but he's fun at the party and omigod
that castle!

Once upon a time, a strung-out match girl sold CDs to stoners. Twelve impetuous sisters escaped Daddy’s clutches to jiggle and cavort and wear out their shoes. Bluebeard's latest wife discovered she'd married a serial killer.
Hardcover, 88 pages
Published July 10th 2012 by Candlewick Press
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jan 24, 2012 Jo rated it liked it
"Do you want to sleep? Find another story teller.
Do you want to think about the world in a new way?
Come closer. Closer, please.
I want to whisper in your ear."

Initial Final Page Thoughts.

High Points
Interesting new perspectives on fairy re-tellings . Great selection of fairy tales- some that I’ve only heard of in passing. Creepy. Illustrations. The macabre. Who said Ever After has to be happy? Imaginative. Princess in a coma. “Solar panel poetry machine with biceps”. Men in tights.

Low Point
Nov 07, 2015 Gina rated it really liked it
Shelves: rereads
To enjoy this book, you probably need two things: a strong gut and a wicked sense of humor. I have both, so almost all of this book was an absolute pleasure for me to read, if only because it was so very darkly amusing. Free verse poetry is my favorite kind of poetry, and every single one is as creative a satire as the last. Things these days are going back to darker and edgier all the time and this does just that to all the favorite fairy tales, but in a way that relates to now--mentions of GPS ...more
When I came across this one in my preparations for Fairy Tale Fortnight, I was immediately struck by the dark and direct tone of the cover, and took it as an indication of the tales found inside. In some ways this is what I got: the retellings are gritty and dark and very pared down, stripped of any residual fairy dust and ball gowns. Koertge plays on the original tales, in all their dark and twisted glory, but he also plays with our Disneyfied modern expectations.

But even though Koertge did sor
Cassy Skellington
Sep 20, 2012 Cassy Skellington rated it it was ok
I found the art to be the most entertaining part of this book. The fairy tales - not so much.

Parts of them were alright, but most felt either rushed or poorly constructed, plot wise. The author took major poetic license, twisted the stories - which is what I expected - but rather than lending them intrigue or satire, they just were confusing and oh so desperately trying to be controversial or "edgy". You know, if you find incest and copius amounts of profanity to be hip.

In closing, it's a quic
My first read-through of this modern retelling of many well known fairytales left me a little cold. Okay, they're clever, but maybe a little too clever, too edgy, too precious. So, believe it or not, I decided to give it a second chance. What? I'm sure I've done that once or twice in my life.

So the second time through, the stories sort of grew on me. There were subtleties I missed first time, probably when I was rolling my eyes. I wasn't in love with all the stories and I was confused by the inc
Greta is Erikasbuddy
I love fairytales.
I love retellings.
I love short stories.
I love free verse.
I love silhouettes.
I did not love this book.

I wanted to so badly to dive into this and squee with dark horror delight but it just wasn't for me.

I found the bits to be something I've seen before. And some of this just seemed thrown together. Rushed. That's not saying that it's bad... that's just saying that I'm picky. I just never got that WOW moment.

The pictures throughout the book are very nice.

In my opinion, if you are
Oct 08, 2012 David rated it really liked it
If you like your fairy tales warm and chaste with no pesky disturbing sexual undertones, then dear God in heaven run from this book as fast as your innocent little legs will carry you!

Ron Koertge re-imagines a whole herd of fairy tales in wildy creative free verse diddies. Some will make you squirm. Some will make you laugh out loud. Some will make you wish you had some penicillin. All of them are inspired little explosions of unique craft that do not play nicely. At all.

The "fairy tales aren't
Eris Vianney
Jun 01, 2014 Eris Vianney rated it did not like it
Shelves: did-not-finish
Nov 14, 2012 Tina rated it liked it
This is a truly original book-of-fairytales rendition. It provides narration for all of the famous (and some not so famous) fairytale characters from legend. They each take a turn telling their story, each example gruesome and completely new. Some of it is in verse, some in documentary-style explanations, others in brief monologues--all are provided with sinister black-and-white illustrations. Koertge keeps the original fairytale themes, gore and all.
I know Ron Koertge through his previous nove
Rebecca McNutt
Written in poetry form, this modern retelling of a classic but disturbing fairytale wasn't really a bad idea, but it just ended up being really lame, like if Twilight and a Lifetime movie were blended together. The characters were shallow and boring, and it was hard to relate to them.
Aug 21, 2012 Kate rated it liked it
Recommended to Kate by: Tiger
This collection of poems twists fairy tales like they've never been twisted before. Most are extremely dark and look at either the secondary characters or at the life after the tale ends. All of them will make you think of these old, familiar stories in a completely new way. The Red Riding Hood story is the girl's explanation of events to her mom after the fact, told in the style of a modern teenager. In the Cinderella story, the two stepsisters talk about how they were unjustly punished and sud ...more
Anna (Yoda Is My Spirit Animal)
This book is a compilation of twisted versions and bonus point of views from well known fairy tales. There are stories for Cinderella, The Little Match Girl, Rapunzel, Thumbelina, Beauty and the Beast, Twelve Dancing Princesses, Hansel and Gretel, The Ugly Duckling, Diamonds and Toads, The Robber Bridegroom, East of the Sun and West of the Moon, and other very recognizable tales. I did enjoy the dimension that these poems added to the original tales. But my major complaint would be the stark, cr ...more
Macabre -- that in all its permutations is the best word to describe both the fairy tale based poems and the art that accompanies them in this slim volume. Koertge basically took the original tales and both updated them and chose to dwell on their most unsavory aspects-- the eyes plucked out of the stepsisters eyes in Cinderella; the masochistic attraction part of Red Riding Hood's relationship to the Wolf and the bride's to Bluebeard. And even though the scissor cut art is done in black and whi ...more
Feb 04, 2013 Dora rated it really liked it
Shelves: traditional-lit
Ron Koertge's free verse writing adds a modern, older audience twist to the usual fairy tales we all know. He includes brief perspectives or versions of Cinderella, the Frog Prince, and as the title would have it, Little Red Riding Hood. I could not help but laugh as I read through the piece titled " Red Riding Hood, Home at Last, Tells her Mother What Happened." In this free verse, the reader comes to know more about Red Riding Hood and her thoughts behind her actions. She is definitely not a l ...more
Hylary Locsin
Oct 30, 2012 Hylary Locsin rated it it was ok
Originally posted on my blog: ! Check it out for more reviews!

Written in free verse, this macabre collection of poems and creepy illustrations includes twenty-three retellings of classic fairy tales. Featured tales range from “Cinderella,” told from the perspective of the stepsisters, “Hansel and Gretel,” who want revenge against the father that allowed them to be abandoned in the woods, and a monologue from “Red Riding Hood” who is relaying what happened t
Aug 14, 2012 Amy rated it liked it
Shelves: ya, fairy-tale
I was, unfortunately, underwhelmed by this books. I had high hopes for this collection of short, dark fairytale twists, and some of them managed to live up to that. The failing here is that while the first few seem funny and smart, they begin to pile up and become boring or pointless. I'm not sure whether the problem is the repetition (perhaps I would have enjoyed them more if read separately), but really it seems its just a good idea stretched too far. How many different heroines/damsels do I n ...more
Dark and disturbing variants of classic fairy tales. The papercut illustrations (created digitally)add a menacing tone to the book with their bold black, white, and red coloring.

I particularly enjoyed the different points-of-view from wolves, princes, and stepsisters, and an honest portrayal of Happily Ever After.
Karyn Silverman
Feb 16, 2012 Karyn Silverman rated it it was ok
Shelves: ya, arcs, z2012-reads
I wanted this to be brilliant. But it reads as a gimmick. Some flashes but is it revisionist? Social commentary? Fractured tales? And many of them just end, rather than finishing. Sorely disappointed.
Edward Sullivan
Jun 25, 2012 Edward Sullivan rated it really liked it
Shelves: folklore
Clever, entertaining updates of familiar fairy tales. Dark and frequently gruesome like the original tales upon which these are based. Great illustrations.
Jessie  (Ageless Pages Reviews)
I'm not quite sure what to rate this one; it will most likely end up in the 3 - 3.5 region, i.e. good but could have been better. I liked it, sure, but here wasn't a whole lot to any of these twenty-three short, sometimes almost verse stories. While this is both an interesting and often quite strange collection of retellings of classic fairy tales/myths/legends, I found that the short style hampered my overall enjoyment of the tales. I did very much enjoy the varied differences and updates that ...more
Erin Kessler
Apr 26, 2012 Erin Kessler rated it liked it
Shelves: reviewed
Lies, Knives and Girls in Red Dresses was refreshingly dark and, often times, shock-inducing. That said, I wasn't incredibly impressed with this book of twisted tales. I'm more of a happy ending, unicorns and butterflies type of girl, but I love a good blood-soaked horror story as much as the next person. Sometimes I get cavities from the all the rainbows and need a bit of roughage in my diet.

So some of the stories and poems in Koertege's book provided me with the perfect dose of gallows humor
Mar 04, 2016 AnQi rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry, speculative
Gory, dark, and captivating, Lies, Knives, and Girls in Red Dresses is not for the faint-hearted. What immediately captivated my attention was the gorgeous (and kind of creepy) cover, as well as the fairy tale retelling side of it (for which I have a total Achilles Heel for.) Written in free verse poetry, you'll come across old favorites like Cinderella and The Ugly Duckling (retold in the sickest ways you can ever imagine) and several other not as well known stories like Bluebeard and Godfather ...more
Jul 22, 2013 Karissa rated it really liked it
I picked this book up at the library because the cover caught my eye. This is a darkly fun and twisted set of poems covering a number of fairy and folktales. I enjoyed it and thought it was a quick and fun read.

This was an interesting, disturbing, and darkly humorous collection of poetry retellings of fairy/folk tales. Everything from Red Riding Hood to the Little Match Girl is covered in this mix.

The artwork throughout this book is stark black and white cut-outs which match the twisted and bl
Apr 04, 2013 Sesana rated it it was ok
Really uneven. The idea seems to have been to do a series of fairy tale retellings, in free verse. I like that idea, it's why I picked the book up. But the execution varies wildly. Some of the poems are essentially straight retellings, but from a different point of view. The Cinderella poem that opens the book, for example, would only seem novel if you'd never heard about the stepsisters' original fate. There are one or two gems (The Princess and the Pea, for example, which gets into some of the ...more
Ginger Mae
It took me awhile to decide whether Lies, Knives, and Girls in Red Dresses annoyed me and was insignificant, or offended me and was worthy of a tirade. I decided on the latter, although I will try to control the tirade. Dark fairy tales and fairy tale retellings are some of my favorite things to read. I’ve gotten away from them for a while, and was looking forward to this book as a return. I was sadly disappointed.

Read my full reviews at http://closetoheartandhome.blogspot.c...
Mar 26, 2013 Merin rated it liked it
I'm not going to do an official review of this at all, but here are my basic thoughts. As is typical with any collection of stories, some of these were good, others not so much. What some of them also were was REALLY strange, and not always in a good way.

The Bluebeard, Bearskin, and Beauty and the Beast retellings were probably my favorite, for those particularly interested!


To see more of my reviews, please visit me @ Read and Reviewed!
Jan 20, 2012 Nafiza rated it really liked it
Readers and fans of collections such as those of Emma Donoghue and Angela Carter will delight in the short retellings of the canonical fairytales by the multi-talented Ron Koertge. His stories are pithy, slightly acerbic, with a refreshing tongue-in-cheek flavour that will have readers giggling or smirking in response. Koertge resituates several of the stories and one of the more memorable ones is the retelling of Red Riding Hood, with the main character conveyed as a sulky teenage girl recounti ...more
Laura Elisabeth
Very disappointing. Banalities abound. This sort of thing has been done so often it really has to be done well for it to be worthwhile and this doesn't make the cut. Further, there's a nasty thread of misogyny present as well. Of course that is in the original tales, but usually these rewritten versions try to address it somehow rather than reinforcing it. If you want smart, thoughtful, provoking, insightful fairy tale revision, read Margaret Atwood's Good Bones and Simple Murders.
Aug 27, 2012 Kim rated it it was ok
Shelves: poetry, retelling
There are a few fresh ideas in this---I enjoyed "Bearskin," "The Emperor's New Clothes: An Afterword," "Little Thumb," and "Wolf"---but much of the book's intended edginess seemed a retread of all the typical fractured fairy tale stuff: incest (maybe?), the tedium of ever afters, women who crave danger and abuse, selfish heroes and heroines, etc. I didn't really feel as though I was discovering anything new about the original stories or, for that matter, fairy tales in general. As for the poetry ...more
Apr 19, 2016 Woods rated it did not like it
Shelves: etec545-class-4
Ron Koertge. Lies, Knives, and Girls In Red Dresses. Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA. 2012
High School - Book In Verse
Although this is a book in verse, it is also more of a compilation of stories. The author has taken fairy tales and respun them into a more contemporary, depressing, and practical format. Although one site I looked at recommended this book for ages 10-18, in no way is this a book for 10 year olds. This is definitely a book for upper high school and adults in my opinion, putting t
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Sno-Isle Mock Printz: * Finalist: Lies, Knives, and Girls in Red Dresses 2 11 Nov 24, 2012 11:48PM  
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  • Edgar Allan Poe's Pie: Math Puzzlers in Classic Poems
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  • On the Day I Died: Stories from the Grave
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  • October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepard
  • Soonchild
  • Forget-Me-Nots: Poems to Learn by Heart
  • A Strange Place to Call Home: The World's Most Dangerous Habitats & the Animals That Call Them Home
  • No Crystal Stair: A Documentary Novel of the Life and Work of Lewis Michaux, Harlem Bookseller
  • My Book of Life by Angel
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Ask Ron Koertge what he brings to the realm of young adult fiction, and the seasoned author responds matter-of-factly. "I write dialogue well, and I'm funny," he says--an assessment few would argue with. "I like iconoclasm and practice it in my fiction. I don't like pretense or hypocrisy. I'm almost always irreverent."

A faculty member for more than 35 years at Pasadena City College, where he has
More about Ron Koertge...

Share This Book

“She's selling CDs on the corner,
fifty cents to any stoner,
any homeboy with a boner.

Sleet and worse - the weather's awful.
Will she live? It's very doubtful.
Life out here is never healthful.

She puts a CD in her Sony.
It's the about the pony
and a pie with pepperoni

and a mom with warm, clean hands
who doesn't bring home guys from bands
or make some sickening demands.

The cold wind bites like icy snakes.
She tries to move but merely shakes.
Some thief leans down and simply takes.

Her next CD's called Land Of Food.
No one there can be tattooed
or mumble things that might be crude

and everything to eat is free,
there's always a big Christmas tree
and crystal bowls of potpourri.

She's weak but still she play one more:
She's on a beach with friends galore.
They scamper down the sandy shore

to watch the towering waves cascade
and marvel at the cute mermaids
who call to her and serenade.

She can't resist. the water's fine.
The rocks are like a kind of shrine.
The foam goes down like scarlet wine.

One cop stands up and says, "She's gone."
The other shakes his head and yawns.
It's barely 10:00, and life goes on.”
“With his iPod all the way up, nothing in this
world can touch him. Just over his pulse
is a fresh tattoo- a dotted line and the words
-----Cut Here-----

Grief is a street he skates down. "Hey,
donkey's ass!" He bides his time, sanding
away his fingerprints, wondering how he
could get his assailants in one room.”
More quotes…