The cover of this one drew me in, and then I flipped to the "about the author" page and was like, "Hey, it's the dude from Glee!" So I gave it a whirl...moreThe cover of this one drew me in, and then I flipped to the "about the author" page and was like, "Hey, it's the dude from Glee!" So I gave it a whirl...
I'm pretty sure Chris Colfer was around age ten when the miniseries the 10th Kingdom was on. Otherwise, I would have spent this entire review going "tsk tsk," due to the similarities. The reader is whisked along a journey with two individuals from our world (twins, rather than a father and daughter), who enter another realm via a portal (a book, rather than a mirror), wherein they find several fairy tale kingdoms based on corresponding fairy tales (both have a kingdom belonging to Red Riding Hood, Snow White, etc.). At one point, the boy in the story makes a comment about how crazy fairy tale characters are, and it reminded me in particular of this 10th Kingdom scene in which Tony lets out his exasperation on an ill-fated frog. But like I said, Colfer was likely ten when the miniseries was released, so any similarities (and once you get into the nitty-gritty of the plot, there are few) are probably coincidental or one of those I-saw-something-when-I-was-a-child-and-it-has-lingered-in-my-subconsciousness-ever-since scenarios.
Regardless of similarity, Colfer has created several unique, approachable and winning characters for the adolescent set. I sympathized with the twins and their predicament. I was genuinely curious to see what would happen to the different side characters. There were parts that were poignant, parts that were suspenseful, and parts that simply made me smile. Goldilocks kicked ass. I am now able to write a review in which I use the phrase "Goldilocks kicked ass," for which I am eternally grateful. I look forward to Colfer's next installment, and I have already lent my copy of the book to another person. If you have adolescent children, or you enjoy relaxing with an adolescent book now and then, try this one out. (less)
The original, or older, or simply "non-Disney" versions of most fairy tales are highly disturbing. It seems that half the authors in this collection t...moreThe original, or older, or simply "non-Disney" versions of most fairy tales are highly disturbing. It seems that half the authors in this collection took that as a challenge to make modern fairy tales five times as disturbing as the disturbing originals.
This does not mean the tales are bad. These are very good authors, with a highly developed sense of writing, of the magical, of imparting ideas without spelling out every minute detail, of leaving the audience with a good starting point for discussion. But the tales are often (not always) very difficult to read to to content. Consider that a disclaimer, or the rated "R" rating for content.
As with all collections of short stories, it is impossible to judge the whole by the parts. Here are my favorites:
Troll Bridge by Neil Gaiman The Princess in the Tower by Elizabeth A. Lynn The Moon is Drowning While I Sleep by Charles DeLint I Shall do Thee Mischief in the Wood by Kathy Koja Like a Red, Red Rose by Susan Wade The Snow Queen by Patricia McKillip
As a side note, I wonder if Breadcrumbs and Stones by Lisa Goldstein was the inspiration for The True Story of Hansel and Gretel, which was published about a decade later. If you read both you will see what I am talking about. (less)
The Twelve Dancing Princesses (or the Worn-Out Dancing Shoes) has been my favorite fairy tale since I was a child. Naturally, this made me both want to read and steer clear of Entwined, the brand-new take on the tale by Heather Dixon. I have to say, I am very glad that I picked this up.
Dixon has a brilliant way of writing - it is not dumbed down (for which I am grateful, given the current state of affairs in the YA literary world), and is at turns illuminating, endearing, and funny. She has been faithful to the original story while simultaneously creating something new.
I read this between The Rum Diary and Catch-22, and it has been the perfect form of non-patronizing escapism (as well as a way to keep sardonic humor from taking over my entire brain). I will definitely be paying attention to Dixon's work yet to come.
With collections of short stories, it is always hard to give stars - some inevitably deserve 5 and some...
So, those that deserve 5 stars (or more), in...moreWith collections of short stories, it is always hard to give stars - some inevitably deserve 5 and some...
So, those that deserve 5 stars (or more), in my humble (or not so humble) opinion:
"Orange" by Neil Gaiman "The Color Master" by Aimee Bender "The Story of the Mosquito" by Lily Hoang "Ardour" by Jonathon Keats "Teague O'Kane and the Corpse" by Chris Adrian "The First Day" of Snow by Naoko Awa
2 that were good but disturbing:
"The Mermaid in the Tree" by Timothy Schaffert "The Brother and the Bird" by Alissa Nutting
There were others that I enjoyed a lot at the time, but started to fade from memory almost as soon as I read them.
I will refrain from naming those that I disliked. I will say that while some stories disturbed me, the main thing that caused me annoyance was the lack of "fairy" in many of the re-told tales. So many authors chose to wring the life out of fairy tales by setting them in regular ol' places with regular ol' people dealing with regular ol' things. Yeah, they were more credible, but I don't really read fairy tales for realism.
Some were so far removed from the original fairy tales that I could not place their origins until the explanation given at the end of the story (to be fair though, one that I did not pick up on is listed among my favorites, so I can't gripe too much about this factor).
Finally, I wonder how Kim Addonizio was able to use the names of the Disney seven dwarfs for her story "Ever After." The story may be public domain, but Happy, Doc, Bashful, etc. are all under copyright. Does this fall under the same guidelines that protect individuals who parody the works of others? Just something that went through my mind at the time...(less)
Tender Morsels is hard to review. For one thing, it is billed as a young adult novel, but much of the content and the writing style is not of a young...moreTender Morsels is hard to review. For one thing, it is billed as a young adult novel, but much of the content and the writing style is not of a young adult nature. So I am ignoring the suggestion of the publisher and reviewing it as an adult novel, which takes some of the pressure off - though warnings are probably still in order.
To start, my second favorite fairy tale of all time is Snow White and Rose Red (behind the Twelve Dancing Princesses). I think it speaks to the ingenuity of Lanagan that it took me a good while to realize that this is somewhat of a retelling of this fairy tale - even with the apropos cover. In the vast expanse of authors who make retelling fairy tales their raison d'etre (at least for the duration of the novel they are working on), in my opinion the only other author to show this level of creativity is Sheri S. Tepper - see Beauty.
Lanagan has a knack for pulling the reader along - through some of the most dire hardships to read - and still leave a sense of hope for the heroines in this novel. Paradoxically, there is also a consistent sense of impending doom as well. This allows the reader to wonder - despite the fairy tale nature, will in fact everything be "happily ever after" in the end? This I will not spoil by relating - if you can read novels in which terrible, terrible things happen to main characters, you can find out the answer to that question on your own...(less)
If you look for this novel today, you’ll find it in the Young Adult section of a bookstore. I’m not exactly sure why, as the book has more references...moreIf you look for this novel today, you’ll find it in the Young Adult section of a bookstore. I’m not exactly sure why, as the book has more references to Shakespearean plays and 19th century poets than it does characters. It is a retelling of a 16th or 17th century rhyme by the same name, set in a college town in the 1970s. The fantasy is sparse, as much of the book is centered on being forced to grow up when going away to school. I’m not entirely certain why I’ve fixated on this book so much, but I do know that after reading this, my brain feels purged in every good sense of the term.(less)