When you open a book and see it’s been dedicated to Linda Hamilton and Ron Pearlman, you crack your knuckles and say, oh yeah, these characters are go When you open a book and see it’s been dedicated to Linda Hamilton and Ron Pearlman, you crack your knuckles and say, oh yeah, these characters are going to have some agency!
Getting into the initial world building, I was pleasantly surprised that in this particular fantasy land, a person’s choice of sexuality doesn’t even rate a comment from anyone else. People are wherever on the Kinsey Scale they wish to be at any given moment, and that’s that. What’s more – equal marriage rights for everyone! Huzzah!
Of course, it’s not all unicorn rainbow farts, as any character who has sex outside of marriage is considered, ahem, rather “loose”.
There is some sort of pagan religion based on goddesses of the sun and moon worship, and it has absolutely no ban on pork products, as bacon takes center stage to a great deal of the plot. (It’s a real hipster take on B&B).
Murphy started with the original de Villeneuve version and teases out what might have been going on with the Beast’s mother’s backstory to make quite a credible retelling in terms of both action and characterization.
She then liberally borrows from McKinley, Kingfisher, Disney and both French live action film versions, and melds them all together to create an entirely new take on the tale that absolutely charmed and delighted me, leaving me cheering on this Beauty and the Beast as the twist and turns kept coming, some obvious, some way out the left field, all wonderful to read.
Even better, I finally got the version I’ve always wanted of three sisters teaming up to go into battle to fight evil magic with swords, good magic, and some well-deserved childish name calling. Then, as an interesting bonus she throws in an ending slightly borrowed from Uprooted, pushing hard the message that beauty is more than looks.
I like to compare books to food, and for this one, I rank it up there with eating chocolate and drinking champagne while in a most delightfully cozy bed. ...more
I think all humans are hard wired to believe their particular geographic location and community are the greatest as part of our DNA’s strategy to ensu I think all humans are hard wired to believe their particular geographic location and community are the greatest as part of our DNA’s strategy to ensure survival – but this does not automatically mean it HAS to translate to hostility with the neighbors. It can, with education and opportunity, be channeled into much less dangerous activities. (People rarely die at chess matches, baseball games, and singing competitions.)
Unfortunately, there will always was be a handful of people who look at the world and decide to turn a sphere into a cube, and never mind anyone who gets hurt in the process. Some of these people end up in places like Taunton State Hospital. And some become heads of state.
“All of this has happened before and all of this will happen again.”
The trilogy wraps up here with the hectic, chaotic final years of Cicero as he watches the Republic become the Empire, and no matter what actions or inactions he takes, he is helpless in the face of a small handful of people determined to reshape the world.
I loved the writing, the handling of the subject matter, the style, the characterization, and the content. It was a fascinating time period – and I find it absurdly soothing to read about these days. ...more
The first half of the original story was exactly as all the retellings that have come after, although more flowery in description - with a little too The first half of the original story was exactly as all the retellings that have come after, although more flowery in description - with a little too much telling rather than showing, but that was the style of the time.
Ah, but then! We get to the point where Beauty returns from visiting her family and tells Beast she'll marry him and he turns into a handsome prince - and we're only at the halfway point!
Next his mom shows up and throws a royal fit her son is engaged to a commoner. And then his fairy godmother shows up, tells the queen she is being a snob, and helpfully fills the other characters and the audience in on a whole soap opera of convoluted backstories to Beauty and Beast's genealogies.
The backstories were a fun bonus - but I can see why they keep getting dropped from retellings. ...more
A great slice of history, science, culture and morals all in one little story - but oh boy does it skim over the part where this was the royal family' A great slice of history, science, culture and morals all in one little story - but oh boy does it skim over the part where this was the royal family's last hurrah before the, ahem, regime change....more
A cute little book, like a chocolate box stuffed full of candy sized pieces of history, facts, jokes, and activities,I read this in honor of the day.
A cute little book, like a chocolate box stuffed full of candy sized pieces of history, facts, jokes, and activities, perfect for someone who has just begun reading on their own and is interested in the background of this holiday....more
When the characters decamped to the countryside, that should have been my first clue this wasn’t goi Oh dear, this wasn’t what I was expecting at all.
When the characters decamped to the countryside, that should have been my first clue this wasn’t going to be another rousing tale of espionage and romance. NOPE! We get mild hijinks at the summer house with all the mild bustle of country folk excited to gossip about the city folk back in residence.
I thought the Blue Raven was going to focus on Regency spies… instead, Book 2 is like reading an entire book devoted to the Scarlet Pimpernel on a tour of wine country without encountering any real action or danger whatsoever.
I’ll give Book 3 a try…. but this was disappointing. ...more
This pretty little primer teaches that, if someone politely turns you down even after you show up at her house uninvited with expen No. Nonononononono!
This pretty little primer teaches that, if someone politely turns you down even after you show up at her house uninvited with expensive gifts you went through some trouble to get her, then its OK to physically restrain her and make her your girlfriend....more
Wee Folk and Wise is a collection of short stories and poems reexamining the tales of the Old World fair folk – fairies, elves, goblins, giants, ogres Wee Folk and Wise is a collection of short stories and poems reexamining the tales of the Old World fair folk – fairies, elves, goblins, giants, ogres, sprites, pixies, elves, selkies, etc. Everyone’s here to play – and this time round, it’s a modern day sandbox, and seeing how magic mixes not just with today’s modernity, but also times like WWII England, 1970’s California, the end of the Neolithic period, the far future, and more.
Twenty-one tales take the old fairy tales and shake them up and down, seeing what a new perspective can give to old tales:
Beware the Fairy's Price by Lillian Cesrnica Cesrnica takes the tale of 'Diamonds and Toads' and extends it to see exactly what kind of ending each sister would get. Both sisters find themselves in terrible situations, just of different types. But, yay for sisterhood, one reaches out to the other, and together they manage to make magic finally work for them rather being everyone else’s pawns.
Children in the Sky by Michael Lee Johnson A haunting poem about those who roam at night and worship moonlight might have reasons far more solemn than just delighting in nocturnal beauty. Johnson packs a lot into a few sparse lines.
Offering by Kara Race-Moore I wrote this! I mixed Old World fey legends with New World better-than-thou Puritanism to see what the Fair Folk would look like if they inhabited a place like modern-day Boston, Massachusetts and still needed that seven year tithe…
Episode 7,582 by Philip Thorogood You think humans are the only ones with trashy reality TV? Thorogood presents Earth-Ogres, a hugely popular show amongst ogre kind, with thousands tuning in to watch a ridiculous free-for-all contest show to see the contestants duke it out for honor and glory. All of the contestants are great to watch in their single-mindedness, but it really gets hilarious when they start to literally bounce off each other in the final showdown in a rapid-fire POV switch leading up to the unlikely winner.
Under the Roses by Elizabeth Guizzetti Dark, dark, dark fantasy about the pain of being in any way different at school with a lot of overtones of magic and an interesting undercurrent of science fiction. Guizzetti tells a horror show of pain punctuated by how much of it is pain not caused by monsters or curses, but by the pain we inflict on each other and ourselves.
The Farmer and the Fairy by James Penha Penha retells here the Indonesian version of the selkie tale. The style was beautiful, both emulating and mocking the Arabian Nights style of storytelling. Penha gives wonderful descriptions in a humorously dry fashion of the emotions as the two main characters play out the inevitable disaster of a human trying to control everything.
The Dullahan's Coach – Samuel Poots In Irish legend, Death comes to collect your soul with a fancy horse-drawn coach. Ah, but what if Death were to… leave the engine running, so to speak, when he got out to collect the soon-to-be dead? Poots presents a Grim Reaper who is going to do his duty – and not take it kindly if anyone tries to get in his way. Young Tom, determined to help the one person who’s shown him kindness, goes on a wild joyride through the streets of Belfast one night in an attempt to help someone outrun Death himself.
Morgan Le Fey — Home Test by Laura Madeline Wiseman An interesting poem in which Wiseman examines the magic to be found in everyday objects and how the symbols of the concept of ‘home’ can be just as magical as any spell.
Gog From Magog by Matthew A. Timmins A humorous take on a Cyrano de Bergerac – this time with giants and fairies, instead of a bunch of mopey Spaniards. Timmins’ giants are not the fearsome creatures you might expect, with one too afraid to talk to a pretty giantess. So his brother goes a-wooing on his behalf – and it all becomes rather more of a hassle than they bargained for.
Pixie Crystals by Irene Radford writing as C. F. Bentley Fairies on a space station! The story has the same feeling of turning on the TV and watching episode six of season three of a show you’ve never seen before, but knowing it’s a sci-fi show like Deep Space 9 or Babylon 5. It’s good – but you are also in the middle of these characters’ lives and clearly quite a lot has already happened. However, that’s not important because Bentley gives enough background to work with, and on today’s episode, we get an excellent science fiction version of the legends of pixies and fairies.
The Ballad of Ryan by Laurel C. Grey An update on the old story of Big-Sister-Rescuing-Baby-Brother. For a twist, Grey’s version of the archetypical Big Sister, Casey, has already spent some time kidnapped by the Fair Folk and no way is she going to let them put her baby brother through the same saccharine torture. However, Casey has the twin hurdles of grownups that don’t believe in fairies and her brother constantly challenged by his autism to feel his way through any world, ours or the fairies. Luckily, there are awesome horses to the rescue!
Pixilated by Jean Martin Nazis vs. Pixies. Best described as an R rated Bedknobs and Broomsticks; Martin serves up a great little story about what happens when modern military might comes up against ancient magic. And when the magical creatures involved have a fondness for the land being invaded – well, it’s no contest, is it?
Broken Laces by Beth Cooley Two teenaged sisters on vacation in Ireland get much more in touch with their cultural heritage than they bargained for when they run into a trio of boys who turn out to only look like human, but are far older and crueler underneath their beautiful façade. However, Cooley shows that big puppy eyes and carefully tousled locks can’t compete with sisters who look out for each other when one gets in over her head.
Over Coffee by Teresa Milbrodt Angels and fairies hang out at the same celestial coffee shop, both enjoying caffeine, with the fairies wildly enjoy the sugars and creams while the angels patiently resolve not to indulge. Milbrodt is very Pratchett-like in her approach to how non-humans might enjoy off-hours or mope through unemployment, which the fairies experience as more and more humans stop believing in them, which takes all the fun out of playing tricks on them. The angels still have some belief, but not quite as much, and things are getting down right depressing until both sides realize you don’t need belief to do some old fashioned meddling – but on a global scale.
Dances With Elves by Cynthia Ward The ending will make you laugh – and leave you feeling a nauseous. The entire story reads as the build up to a joke that is told dryly, solemnly, but knowing the teller is going to lead up to a hard twist of a punch line. And wow does Ward give us a twist at the end – so hard a punchline you feel a bit bruised, but you’re still laughing.
Ties That Bind by Sarah Joy Adams A selkie story set in 1970’s California. Adams’ version of the legend reads like the beginning of a magical realism novel, suggesting that underneath the groovy scene of California in the Vietnam era, there could have been a whole other layer of weirdness going on. The issues of a mixed marriage of human and selkie reads uncomfortably like a lot of marriages the children of divorced parents probably lived through in this time period, complete with examples of shocking sexism like the father threatening to take the mother’s driver’s license away. Like many stories set in this era, our main female characters aren’t feminists, but a reason for feminism, as they say. Magic meets gender politics, and the inevitable tragedies of not granting others respect.
The Magic in the Melody by Shayna Coplan Arnold learned to play the guitar from fairy teachers, here shown as classic examples of the old saying ‘those who can’t, teach.’ Coplan’s fairies are selfish, lazy, and conceited – but they appreciate good music. They excel at the technical side of things, but just don’t have that emotional x-factor humans bring to the creative process. Arnold’s music becomes so good they insist he comes to fairyland to play a concert for their friends. He reluctantly goes, with a pensive feeling about what happens in stories to the musicians who visit fairy courts…
Silver and Scythe by Manny Frishberg and Edd Vick As the humans leave the Neolithic Age behind and start doing these wildly new radical things like farming and building houses, all of the magical creatures wonder what this means for them as the humans figure out metal tools and weapons and learn not to die so much, rapidly increasing their population. The magical folk decide a good offense is a good defense, and things get rather heated from there. Frishberg and Vick make a good argument for how far back some divides can go. Also, an excellent showcase of all the deities, creatures and magical races of Celtic legend.
The Last Son of Auberon by Ben Stewart High Fantasy meets Golden Age Comics – an inspired combination that surprises, and then works very well. Stewart pulls off an impressive writing style trick as the Lord-of-the-Rings style highfalutin language shifts gears sharply into the pulpy, Dieselpunk style of Captain-America-punching-out-Hitler, playing out here with an irresistible charm as magic meets mid-20th century science-fiction. And the character of Karen could teach Lois Lane a thing or two about how to handle bad guys!
Inked Out – Brandy T. Wilson Liz has spent her 20’s bartending and being the life of the party. However, she’s gotten the sudden realization she’s too old to keep acting, dressing, working, and partying as she has been, and is desperately eager to leave her old life behind and become a very prim and proper office worker and prove to the whole world she can adult with the best of them. Too bad that tattoo is a permanent reminder of that old lifestyle. And some memories refuse to be stuffed away, consigned to the dark. Wilson offers an excellent parable on the perils of living too much to one extreme or the other.
Dandelion – Lucy D. Ford Ford’s story finishes off the collection with a story that is lyrical and dreamy – and at the same time has a sharp Elfpunk feel to it as the main character journeys into the very heart of modern dangers. A dryad follows a single cry for help across all sorts of lands, despite warnings every step of the way, to try and bring rescue to something thought lost forever. ...more