Full Disclosure: A review copy of this book and audiobook was provided to me by the publishers. I would like to thank the author and the publishers for providing me this opportunity. All opinions expressed from here forward are my own.
This story starts when Zell (Rapunzel) unexpectedly leaves her friends to move to the “boonies” (Oz) to run a unicorn farm with her husband Jason and her twins. Zell’s circle of friends consist of the prim and proper Rory (Briar Rose/Sleeping Beauty), the foul-mouthed and cynical Bianca (Snow White) and the levelheaded CeCi (Cinderella). The inhabitants of fairy tale land know that they’re supposed to live out their pages to their happily ever after. On top of that, they are aware of the “outside” world, which is where normal humans live, humans who supposedly give power to their pages through their belief, which supposedly makes it even more important that they act a certain way. Zell, Rory, and CeCi have all achieved their happily ever after, even though it seems they still long for something more. Bianca is still getting to her happily ever after and is slated to be married to a kindly prince she doesn’t love. With Zell’s sudden departure, her friends find themselves in a sudden flux as they begin to rebel against their stories and start to find themselves. This book is told through a series of letters from each woman to Zell as they go from the pain of dealing with her departure to creating a happily ever after on their own terms.
Imaginative retellings are one of my favorite types of story because I love seeing how authors reimagine old characters and old stories, and this book was on one of my recent Top Ten Tuesdays of books that I was looking forward to listening to/reading this year. This story was like a fairy tale version of Real Housewives. Zell apparently met her prince while he was roaming the woods blind and she was pregnant with twins. She restored his eyesight and they married. You don’t learn too much about Zell other than little tidbits of her story, which was disappointing. Rory is married to a prince who doesn’t care for her much. She tries to be perfect and tell herself that loves comes eventually, even though she loved someone else before marrying her prince. She’s one of those women who tries to act like everything is beautiful while inwardly falling apart. CeCi has a great relationship with her prince. They truly love one another, but she’s starting to feel they’re beginning to drift in two different directions. The things she loves to do (cooking) she has to hide from him because he said that part of her fairy tale is over and she’s no longer a servant. However, she wants to do this because she loves it, and she wants to share this love with him. And then there’s Bianca… Oh, Bianca…
Bianca was probably favorite Princess because instead of sweet Snow White sobbing in the forest with her animals friends and the dwarves…
… we get Bianca who doesn’t take anyone’s shit, who’s cynical about love and the role women play in these stories, who admits that she’s sexually attracted to women and men and gratuitously uses the word “fuck.”
Yeah, this Snow White is who we get, but with less tattoos. (But I think she’d totally get the tattoos if she thought she could get away with it.) Bianca argues: “It’s irresponsible storytelling. Love can certainly include the occasional experimental romp in handkerchiefs or a playful smack on the behind with a riding crop, but it doesn’t involve isolation and belittlement. Star is already worthy of Sabian. What does she have to reinvent herself for?” Despite Snow White’s general curmudgeonly attitude, she does have a gentle heart. While she despises what her stepmother put her through, she has no desire to exact revenge and isn’t looking forward to having to possibly execute her in her happily ever after. She doesn’t blame her father, who loves to travel, for not being around to protect her. She petitions the powers to allow Huntsman to return from exile because she believes that he did the only thing he could considering the circumstances. She has no desire to marry the prince she’s fated, too, even though she lauds his great qualities and believes him to be a great man and a good friend to her. She doesn’t want what the pages tell her is her happily ever after. She wants to create her own. They all want to create their own. They want to be the narrators of their own stories.
A few complaints I do have is that the letter writing format can be a little jarring and disjointed. Sometimes, it’s too much like being a “chaptered” story where one letters is just really a continuation of the last letter’s story. Some of the moments that were so important to the characters were glossed over in their letters. Also, certain letters can get a little tiresome, even repetitive, especially Rory’s whose letters have to continuously be a “Everything is fine” mantra, even though I understand why they’d be like that. Sometimes, this book felt like it was going into young adult territory with some of the dialogue and scenarios. I’ll also concede that sometimes it’s hard to get to the meat of their issues with the way they complain. Like wanting to write Bianca off as just a catty witch instead of seeing the woman who wants to just be and leave this vengeance thing behind. These type of things can take readers out of the story.
However, don’t think this is a serious read. While there are certainly serious themes here, this book is infused with humor. While some of it made me smile, I won’t say it was laugh out loud funny. Some of the jokes were a little corny, but the narrator, Amy McFadden, caught the varying tones of the princesses well. Rory’s voice was whimsical and dream like. CeCi’s voice was conversational and levelheaded. Bianca’s voice was tough and unladylike. She didn’t do a great job with male voices, but readers should take care to remember she’s reading these letters in the tone of the princesses, so it makes sense the male voices wouldn’t be that great. She’s creating a semblance of a male voice as the princess would. These princesses are catty, cordial, selfish, selfless–in other words they’re very flawed as any person. They complain, they whine. But if you look through their words you can see more shaping up. If stories that turn your favorite princess into less that some self-sacrificing damsel upsets you, turn away from this book. This was one of the more fun retellings I’ve read, but this absolutely won’t be for everyone. I’d rate this between 3 and 3.5 stars, but I am feeling generous because I liked some of the themes. With that being said, I’ll leave you with this quote from Snow White:
“We’re all at risk of becoming imprisoned within our own mirrors. By our expectations of ourselves. We are vain or unkempt, bitches or sycophants, mothers or monsters, queens or servants.”...more
Coming on the heels of the first volume, Jack and Rose Red are serving community service for the stunt they pulled. Snow White takes her sister to TheComing on the heels of the first volume, Jack and Rose Red are serving community service for the stunt they pulled. Snow White takes her sister to The Farm, a place where fables who can’t blend with human society because of their looks are sent. Snow says the trip would give them some sister time to resolve their issues and that she thinks it’s important that Rose visit The Farm to see how others in their community live. Naturally, Rose is resistant to the idea. When they arrive at the farm, the sisters realize that things are a little off in the idyllic community, and soon find themselves embroiled in bitter politics.
In this volume, we see a naïve side to Snow. She believes that, because they try to make The Farm as comfortable as possible, there’s no reason for the fables that live there to be unhappy. She doesn’t look beyond the material assistance they provide the fables there. Therefore, she can’t see that some things aren’t made better by throwing money at it. There are things that are worth far more than things such as freedom, independence, and dignity. It frustrated me a little bit just how far the depth of her naïveté went. It took Snow an extremely long time to grasp that things were more than a little strange there. I could understand her not grasping what was happening at first, but as these troubling things continued to happen, she still didn’t get it. I just think Snow is smarter than that.
In a way, it’s a little ironic that Snow took Rose there in hopes of making her aware of this part of the community, but she is the one who leaves with a new awareness about The Farm and how the inhabitants feel about it. I hope that this aspect doesn’t just stop here because this adds an important struggle to their story. Every book doesn’t need to be about this, but this isn’t something that should promptly be forgotten. I think this will be something visited again in the future if I’m to judge by some of the panels.
This volume also adds another facet to Snow and Rose’s relationship. We learn a little more about how deeply these old hurts run. It was a relief to see that Charming wasn’t their main problem. I didn’t want this to be yet another story about women falling out because of a man. It’s too easy, so while Charming did play a part in their rift, the damage had been done long before him. (I will concede the main reason may be a bit cliché, as well, though.) Also, I appreciated that there’s acknowledgement that it’s going to take time for the two women to regain their former closeness instead of them hugging it out over ice cream in just one volume. I hope this relationship will truly be explored and restored over the course of the series.
I recently played the first episode of Telltale’s The Wolf Among Us (if you like interactive fiction type games, I highly recommend this and The Walking Dead Game by Telltale), which is based on these comics. I loved the direction the game took and decided to jump into the second volume of the series. However, I’m still not quite as taken with this series as I want to be. I think the idea of it and the characters are interesting, and I’m a big fan of imaginative retellings. But there’s something about the story that’s not quite engaging me as much as I feel it should. And I can’t quite put my finger on what it is. Hopefully, my feelings will change to be more positive as I continue to read the story. Wait, did I say that in my last review?...more
This is a retelling of Peter Pan, called The Boy in this story. Actually, this is the story of Paul Dear, a young boy who desperately wants to go to AThis is a retelling of Peter Pan, called The Boy in this story. Actually, this is the story of Paul Dear, a young boy who desperately wants to go to Anyplace (Neverland) to find something to help his mother who is miserable after the death of his one week old sister. However, his story is strongly tied to The Boy and Anyplace since he needs both to achieve his goals, and in some part of himself, Paul believes that he may actually be The Boy or some manifestation of him.
This was an audiobook listen narrated by Simon Vance. Yeah, you know I love the guy. Even though I’d listened to one book he narrated before this. This book made me realize how consistent and talented he was with his reading, and it helps that he was reading an imaginative retelling, which I love. I enjoyed this book more than I thought I would. I was a little apprehensive at first that I might find it too juvenile for my tastes, but that wasn’t the case at all. Peter David managed to make this book feel like a child who is on the cusp of adulthood. It was both naïve and worldy, innocent and experienced. It was truly an amazing, whimsical story with tones of darkness.
Mom Note: I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this for younger children even if the tone, wording, and pacing “feels right” for younger children. This book is about children and told in that genial tone reserved for children’s books. It’s not necessarily a story that’s “bad” for younger audiences, but they wouldn’t understand the nuances in the story that require some level of maturity to already have been achieved. Examples of this include when the narrator mentions that Paul, being a child, would not understand a woman’s figure or why they might not have wanted to be as “round in the hips” as Fiddlefix (Tinkerbell) or when the narrator notes that The Boy shares with grown men the inability to decide if he wants the significant non-mother female figure in his life, Gwennie (Wendy), to be his mother or his lifemate or when the narrator refers to maturity as “the destruction.” So, for any parent/guardian/adult figure thinking this might be great for a younger audience, it’s not. It’s a book about children, but it’s not necessarily a book for children. I’d say early teens, maybe even kids as young as 11-12, would better handle a book like this one....more
First, I should say if you want a sweet, innocent Peter Pan story, this story isn't for you. This is nowhere near as dark as Brom's The Child Thief, bFirst, I should say if you want a sweet, innocent Peter Pan story, this story isn't for you. This is nowhere near as dark as Brom's The Child Thief, but while Brom's book focuses on presenting Neverland as a very gray place where all sides do their evil in the name of some "greater good," this is a story about first loves, betrayal, yearning, and heartache mixed in with a bit of action. I think this book and The Child Thief are the only two Peter Pan retellings that have elicited such a strong emotional response from me. I wouldn't even try to write this review before I could stop tearing up about this story.
This story toes the thin line between magic and magic realism. While there are magical things in the stories like mermaids and fairies, many other "magical elements" have more practical reasoning behind them. One example being the belief that the lost boys fly being attributed to an elaborate rope system they've made in the treetops.
Neverland turns out to be an island nestled away in the Atlantic, protected by a treacherous sea that sinks many of the ships that dare to tread too close to Neverland, reminding me a little of the Tristanian Islanders. However, a few stragglers make it to shore from time to time. Most of them die of exposure or by some terror that lives in the forest. Other Englishmen that make it to shore are often cut down by Captain Hook and his ragtag group of pirates who hate their fellow countrymen. But even though most of the inhabitants there have a peaceful existence together on that island (however, peace between the pirates and natives is tenuous at best), they all fear the lost boys who most people never see. They only whisper about their evil deeds, but Tiger Lily learns better.
It is true that people on Neverland didn't age, but it seems that it seems mostly something that happens to the native people and beings on Neverland. It was never fully explained why it happened, but the people on the island aged until a monumental event happened in their life and caused their bodies to stop aging beyond that point and they never moved beyond that physically and perhaps even a bit mentally if we're to judge by Tiger Lily's actions even some 80 years after the events that changed her. And sometimes that meant children out-aged their parents and grandparents. It seemed like the island granted this "gift" to the natives, but not to the outsiders such as Captain Hook. The natives fear catching the "aging disease" from them. However, this could be indicative that nothing of extreme importance has happened to them or if it has, it happened in their lives before Neverland.
I'll be honest, while I did like the idea of a life changing event causing people to stop aging in response, as if this exact moment was the moment they were to remember forever, I don't know if I think it was well executed in the story. It came off a little dubious at best to me. Fortunately, it wasn't something that was talked about much in the story after the initial explanation. There was also bits of the storytelling that seemed a little out of place, and there were a few other places where something should've been explored a little more or explained a little better. But that didn't detract from the story for me.
The story is told through Tink's eyes. Fairies have evolved to be mute, but they learn to observe and listen to the feelings of others, giving them the uncanny ability to be able to look inside others and see all their innermost workings. Unlike her incarntations in other works, Tink is seldom acknowledged by humans, but still she clings to Tiger Lily, hitching rides in her hair or on her clothes as she watches a bittersweet love story unfold between Peter and Tiger Lily, a story that is set into motion when Tiger Lily begins to care for a shipwrecked Englishman who made it to their shores, an event that not only changes her, but her whole village. Tink falls in love with Peter herself, but knowing he can never be hers, she roots for Tiger Lily's love to flourish with Peter because she cares about them both.
Their love does and it doesn't flourish like most first loves. Lack of understanding what the other needs, the newness of a new love, works for and against Tiger Lily and Peter. Tiger Lily, who is an outsider in her own tribe rather than a princess (but still someone of status since the shaman is her adoptive father), has a hard time showing strong emotion even if she feels it intensely. She feels that she has to be as good as Peter, as fast as Peter, as strong as Peter, or he'll outrun her grasp and leave her because she's not his equal. Peter is a swell of emotions and inconsistencies who needs reassurance, who needs to know that she can love all of him, assurances Tiger Lily is unable to give due to not understanding the new feelings she's having, assurances that are given easily by Wendy when she arrives on the island.
As the story wears on it seems as if some of the magic begins to fade. More and more, wondrous creatures and things begin to retreat to safety. The mermaids swim deep within the ocean where they can't be found. Tink's own people move deep in the swamps where men fear to tread. Even people's perception of Tink, and even her perception of herself starts to relegate her to nothing more than a mere bug. All these things are responses to a changing world that magic no longer plays a part in. The world has been conquered, all except Neverland.
Tink warns in the beginning that the tale would not end happily ever after, so I expected something completely heartbreaking. However, I think the story ended in a way that was best for both Peter and Tiger Lily. What happened between Peter and Tiger Lily is painful yes, but what their lives become after that shows they both needed something different as much as they needed each other. Peter's decision also seemed to be a mix of sacrifice as well. He loved the lost boys. He worried about them, even though Tiger Lily was the only person to ever know that. He made a point earlier in the story that he wasn't a good role model, but that he tried to shield them by being carefree. So, I do believe part of his decision was for them to have something better as well. Despite it all, it doesn't mean that Tiger Lily and Peter stopped loving each other. They see each other in everything and will love each other forever, but every love is different. Every love fulfills a person in different ways. Love makes you do things you'd never expect. ...more
I've had friends who have been trying to get me into Fables for years, and I was very receptive toYou can read more book reviews on The BiblioSanctum.
I've had friends who have been trying to get me into Fables for years, and I was very receptive to the idea because as a comic book lover I want to be introduced to new comics. However, the problem with being a bibliophile is that my "to be read" list is like a living, breathing, amorphous thing that is constantly changing and expanding. It's very easy for me to have the best intentions of reading something I'm very interested in sooner rather than later, but many times I end up being distracted by some other book and not picking up a planned read until much later. And I was very interested in Fables. I'm a big fan of imaginative retellings of stories whether it's about history, the gods or, as in this case, classic fairytales.
The inhabitants of fairytale land have been driven from their homes by a powerful force named Adversary. For centuries, these inhabitants have lived in New York City where they lead double lives. To the outside world, to mundanes (a word used for ordinary citizens in the same vein as the X-Men's term "flatscan"), they appear to be regular human beings. However, beneath the facade, they follow their own rules as handed down by the "permanent" mayor, Old King Cole, and his second-in-command, Snow White, who is often left to handle messes. King Cole is quite the merry old soul and prone to empathy while seemingly not having the stomach to handle the true pressures of being a leader. He leaves difficult decisions to Snow's discretion.
They try to rule the folk fairly and in ways that will keep them safe, adhering to very strict laws about what is and isn't tolerated. One of the first rules we learn is: to live in the city, they must look normal. Glamours are available that will make a creature look human. The creatures who can't afford a glamour are shipped off to a place called "The Farm" because there is no way to hide them from the mundanes, and many of the folk have lost their fortunes due to having to flee their homes. So, many of them don't have the resources to help.
I enjoyed the story. I wasn't bowled over by it, but that's often the case with many introductory comics. There's a little bit of build up that has to go into getting a story like this one running. However, while introducing readers to some key players and elements in the comic, Willingham does incorporate a story that showcases the personality of the characters by having Snow's rebellious sister, Rose Red, disappear with the presumption that she may be dead. Bigby Wolf (the Big Bad Wolf glamoured and I already have a soft heart for the redemption angle that's been alluded at with him) is the acting sheriff for the folks and investigate's Rose's death.
I enjoyed what Willingham did with some of the characters I met. Jack of the Jack and the Beanstalk fame is a con artist. I can't help but like him. He's that petty con that always gets into a scheme when it's too late to be profitable. He's more bumbling than dangerous, and it seems that him and Rose Red, who loves to party, often get into trouble together if I have to go by Snow's exasperation.
I really loved what Willingham did with Prince Charming. So many princesses in fairytales marry a Prince Charming. In this story, he's the same person and has been married multiple times and could charm the venom from a snake if you left him at it long enough. One of the three little pigs, the one with the straw house, regularly crashes at Bigby's place when he escapes The Farm as a "reminder" of Bigby's strive toward redemption. Snow is just all around great. Smart as a whip and willing to make the hard decisions as fairly as she can even if she has to tread some vague lines.
There's something dated about the art to me, though. I keep having 80's comics flashbacks. It's not bad, but it just sometime made me feel like I was reading a story that's much older than this really is. Anyhow, I'm intrigued at this point and I will continue to read the series and see if it becomes a "must read" for me....more
This was my face during this whole thing starting from the very first lines:
I know many people enjoyed this, but I'm not sure this story is for me.This was my face during this whole thing starting from the very first lines:
I know many people enjoyed this, but I'm not sure this story is for me. It managed to do every single thing I hate about some YA novels, but the premise was interesting, which is about its only saving grace right now with me. I'm putting the rest of these books (novellas really) on the bottom of my TBR pile where I will wait for the day I feel compelled to continue this story. Hopefully later parts will make me forgive this part because it has potential, but this was not it for me. ...more
Basically, this is a violent retelling of Alice in Wonderland. Alice Liddell isn’t sure if she’s dreaming or not, but she’sI don’t even know anymore.
Basically, this is a violent retelling of Alice in Wonderland. Alice Liddell isn’t sure if she’s dreaming or not, but she’s in a strange world where the inhabitants of Wonderland are locked in civil war and just about everyone she meets loves her with a few exceptions. She believes this world is a product of her loneliness. This is a wholly ridiculous story, but I like it for some reason. I think it has everything to do with the characters and how cheerfully violent most of them are.
Favorite character so far is the punked-out Cheshire cat, Boris Airay, who is basically the opposite of a catgirl and dons many piercings and a skirt over his pants. There’s also the gleefully violent Peter White (the White Rabbit) who is a rabbit-boy who is completely obsessed with Alice—whom he kidnapped—and the perpetually pissed off Elliot March (the March Hare). Vivaldi (the Red Queen) was introduced as a woman who refers to herself as “we” and seems very detached from everything even though she is cordial toward Alice.
There’s Ace (Knave of Hearts) who’s directionally challenged and too oblivious to realize that Elliot really is trying to kill him, but he’s an awesome fighter. Elliot and Ace’s interactions are GOLD just because they are total opposites, and Ace seems unable to genuinely not understand that Elliot hates his guts. He seems to sincerely like Elliot much to Elliot's dismay and even went as far as to tell Elliot’s boss—who I am getting to—that he wasn’t offended by Elliot shooting at him.
Blood Dupre (the Mad Hatter and Elliot’s boss) is a boredom disliking Mafia boss who is the thorn in Gowland’s (a gender-swapped Duchess) because he’s told the whole country that Gowland’s first name is “Mary,” which sends Gowland into a rage. There’s the bloody twins Dee and Dum who Elliot also hates because they’re always calling him a “newb” hare and goofing off. And last we have Nightmare Gottschalk (the Caterpillar) and Julius Monrey (an original character, I think, but seems to be a representation of “time”) who seem a bit immune to “loving” Alice and seem to know more about why she’s there but are very cryptic about it.
While this is obviously shojo (manga marketed toward females), it’s ultra-violent which isn’t typical of shojo. I don’t think it is anyway, but I tend to read more shounen than shojo. I can’t say the story is very strong at this point, but it has done a bang up job on reimagining these characters and giving Wonderland a harder, satirical existence. At first I thought I was going to take issue with most people loving Alice, even Vivaldi hints toward loving her, but looking at it as a woman who’s created this world because of her own loneliness and betrayal, it makes sense and works. ...more
While I think from just reading the summary, most people know they are not walking into a completely black and white, good vs evil, story. YSpoilers.
While I think from just reading the summary, most people know they are not walking into a completely black and white, good vs evil, story. You know that it will be somewhere in between, that there is a lot of gray area in this story. And boy was it ever.
Brom took this fairytale and crafted such a complex, dark story of two sides who essentially want the same thing, but both going about their own misguided way of doing it, doing what they feel they need to do to survive and win. And while Peter's side is arguably the right side, the other side led by The Captain (and "led" is used loosely here because the Captain actually came to be a likable, competent character who is helpless against greater forces at work) isn't as simple and as evil as you'd think they'd be.
Wonderful book. I expected a very dark tale, but I didn't expect to get so emotionally invested in the story of Peter, his Devils (the Lost Boys), Avalon (Neverland), or the flesh-eaters (the Captain and his crew). I shed more than a few tears and laughs with this book. Brom weaved such a wonderful world to explore. I wished the story would've gone and followed them more after their big battle, but then again, I'm glad Brom allowed my imagination to decide what happens next.
Easily a favorite. And Brom's illustrations were breathtaking. I loved his Sekeu the best and that's definitely how she appeared in my mind....more