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The Nightingale (The Fairy Tale Series)

3.67  ·  Rating Details ·  342 Ratings  ·  19 Reviews
In this deft and enchanting retelling of the classic Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale. Kara Dalkey has mixed history and legend, weaving the Andersen fable into a fascinating novel about court life in ancient Japan -- a life of pageantry and poetry, of great beauty and casual cruelty, of life and courtly intrigue as the men and women of the royal household vie for the Em ...more
Paperback, 215 pages
Published April 1st 1991 by Ace (first published May 1988)
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This is a quiet book. It is a very quiet book. Yet it is a very lovely book.

One of the things that draws people to Denmark is the fact that Hans Christan ( 1805 - 1875 ) Andersen was born and lived there. In fact, Odenese most make a fortune out of tourists. It's a lovely town. Very quiet, yet very busy like this book. I've been to Shakespeare's Birthplace and other houses, I've been to various castles, I've been to various museums. Yet the Andersen birthplace was quiet, peaceful. It's true that
The word I would use to describe this book is utterly charming. When I found this fairytale retelling set in Heian Japan, a time period I studied in college and continues to fascinate me, I knew I had to read it.

Minus one sensual scene and an undercurrent of the sexual freedom that was part of the Heian period, the tone of this book is very middle-grade. The characters remain the same, clear good and bad guys, and moral messages. This isn't bad because it helps create the simplistic fairy tale
I didn't plan on liking this book, actually. Tam Lin was the first of the Fairy Tale Series that I'd read, and after reading a couple others, I thought I'd happened upon the best of them and half-decided not to bother with any others. But I'd put The Nightingale on hold a while ago, so when it showed up I decided to read it.

The prose was lovely, sweet, and delicate. The setting was well-drawn and understandable, even to those of us who don't know much Japanese history. The characters weren't te
Jun 11, 2009 Kerry rated it liked it
Shelves: everything
Over the course of the last year and a half, I have been reading Terri Windling’s fairy tales series. Each book was written by a different author and retold a different fairy tale, often changing the original tale to form something unique. Some of the books, (like Jane Yolen’s Broar Rose), were brilliant, some were enjoyable and some fell very flat for me. And so, I never know what to expect when I pick up one of these books.

The Nightingale is a retelling of a classic Hans Christian Anderson st
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mindy aka serenity
Oct 13, 2009 Mindy aka serenity rated it liked it
Shelves: fairy-tale
This book is an adaptation of the fairy tale The Nightingale, moving the story to ancient Japan instead of China. The book, instead of dealing with birds, centers on a young woman flautist whose playing is so beautiful that she catches the ear of the Emperor. But she is under an ancestral obligation to repay a slight done to her ancestors from the Emperor's ancestors, which would result in calamity if the Emperor touches her. There are a great deal of Japanese superstitions and myths about ghost ...more
Nov 02, 2011 Greymalkin rated it liked it
Shelves: fairytales-redux
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Robert Beveridge
Jan 24, 2008 Robert Beveridge rated it really liked it
Kara Dalkey, The Nightingale (Ace, 1988)

During the late eighties, Ace Book released a series based on fairytales, of which this is one. Dalkey retells the Hans Christian Andersen fairytale of the nightingale, changing the setting to Japan (because, she says, she knows more about Japan than she does China) and extending it to novel length.

A fine little work it is. Dalkey has taken the cast of characters form the tale, expanded on it, and fleshed out the existing bunch to give us a fine little tal
Jan 15, 2009 Amanda rated it it was ok
Once upon a time I would read any fantasy that was based on a fairy tale. I'm a little more selective now, and when I was recently culling my bookshelves, The Nightingale didn't make the cut. It is only lightly fantasy, it's more about life at court in super feudal Japan with a few supernatural elements thrown in. I know more about court manners than I care to know. The Bridge of Birds, set in feudal China, is much more entertaining.
May 31, 2011 Catie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, japan
A retelling of Andersen's fairy tale moved to Japan and with both the Nightingale and her false copy recast as human beings. Both the depiction of the Japanese court and the unfolding of the intricate plot which features war, intrigue, ghosts and several twined romances are masterly. Charming and beautiful, despite a lingering sadness the ending leaves a smile on your face...
Nov 30, 2008 Susan rated it liked it
Shelves: japan, fairy_tales
I have been looking for this book for ages and I finally got my hands on a copy. It's a retelling of the story by Hans Christian Andersen, set in Heian Kyo instead of China. The change in setting works well.
Snail in Danger (Sid) Nicolaides
I wanted to read this. And I tried. It's a cool concept and some aspects are well-handled. But ... I've read The Tale of Genji and it was impossible not to be making comparisons in the back of my head.
Jan 17, 2016 Megan rated it really liked it
Very interesting adaptation of the fairy tale. I enjoyed the story, culture, and characters, and would only have cut out some of the parts about the demons.
Jul 24, 2011 Theresa rated it liked it
Shelves: review
a fractured fairytale explains much of the japanese culture and the ideals of the buddist and shinto religions, a very nice story.
Dec 08, 2008 Sheri rated it did not like it
This story is fun, but was ruined by bawdy humor and one inappropriate scene. I hate it when authors ruin books like that. Totally unneccesary.
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Kara Mia Dalkey is an American author of young adult fiction and historical fantasy. She was born in Los Angeles and has lived in Minneapolis, Pittsburgh, Colorado, and Seattle. Much of her fiction is set in the Heian period of Japan.

She was married to author John Barnes; they divorced in 2001. She is a member of the Pre-Joycean Fellowship and of the Scribblies. She is a graduate of the Fashion In
More about Kara Dalkey...

Other Books in the Series

The Fairy Tale Series (8 books)
  • The Sun, the Moon, & the Stars
  • Snow White and Rose Red
  • Tam Lin
  • Briar Rose
  • Jack of Kinrowan
  • White as Snow
  • Fitcher's Brides

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