One of my absolute favorite books, by one of my favorite authors. The beauty (no pun intended) of this retelling of the classic fairytale carries me aOne of my absolute favorite books, by one of my favorite authors. The beauty (no pun intended) of this retelling of the classic fairytale carries me away every time I read it. A book that must be read in one sitting, it's a pick-me-up, a carry-away-the-blues book, a story that never fails to entrance, mesmerize, enthrall, or delight me....more
This is a truly sweet, cute, funny and entertaining modern fairy tale. I haven't read any of Alex Flinn's previous books so I don't know how much or hThis is a truly sweet, cute, funny and entertaining modern fairy tale. I haven't read any of Alex Flinn's previous books so I don't know how much or how little Cloaked differs from them. From what I can tell, Flinn has hit her stride as a writer, deftly weaving several of the lesser known fairytales--such as The Six Swans, The Golden Bird, The Valiant Tailor, among others--into a larger, more complex tale set in a very modern South Beach, Florida.
Meet Johnny, a seventeen-year-old boy who works at his family's shoe repair shop located in the lobby of the posh Coral Reef Grand hotel, who's rather ashamed that he works in his family's shoe repair shop but has no choice as his family depends on the money. In his spare time, though, he dreams of becoming a famous shoe designer and joining the likes of Manolo Blahnik and Christian Louboutin. So when a real-life princess checks into the hotel, paparazzi hot on her stiletto heels, Johnny believes he may have found his chance to fulfill his dreams. The princess, however, has other plans for Johnny. Deeming him trustworthy, she shares her secret with him one night: Her brother, the prince, has been enchanted, turned into a frog by an evil witch. Even worse, now the prince has disappeared somewhere into the depths of the Everglades. Would Johnny please rescue her brother? In return, the princess would marry Johnny, giving him status and wealth and every opportunity to follow his dream. How could he refuse? With the help of some talking swans, a magical earpiece which lets him understand other 'used-to-bes'--animals who were once human--and a magical cloak, not to mention his best friend Meg whom he may or may not be in love with, Johnny sets off on an adventure which leads him from the Florida Keys to the wilds of Europe. Along the way, Johnny discovers that "happily ever after" may not be such a fairy tale after all.
Full of adventure and daring-do, rescues and traps, magic, luck, humor and true love, not to mention a bit of chauvenism to help prove that while not all frogs are princes in disguise, some princes can really be toads, Cloaked is a wonderfully vivid and enchanting tale, quite equal to William Goldman's The Princess Bride in terms of entertainment and storytelling....more
As Mark Twain was to the birth of American folklore, so Jane Yolen is to the next generation of Americana. Yolen is able to take classic Old World folAs Mark Twain was to the birth of American folklore, so Jane Yolen is to the next generation of Americana. Yolen is able to take classic Old World folk tales, clothe them in distinctly American cultures, mores, and histories, and present a story which gives a nod to its European roots while remaining uniquely American.
Snow in Summer is no different. At its heart, you will find the traditional Snow White fairy tale: evil stepmother/wicked witch, potions and poisons, magic mirror, the hunter, even the dwarfs who mine for precious minerals and the infamous apple (though this time it takes the form of apple kuchen). But this Snow White is set in a very rural Appalachia community, specifically a small town in West Virginia in the 1940-50's. Add in the folklore rooted in those very mountains and valleys--stories of haints and green magic, the power of rowan berries and garlic, and, most importantly, babies born with a caul--the mysterious sect of snake-handlers and their practice of faith-healing and speaking in tongues, miracle testimony and the belief in their immunity to poisons and venom, as well as those animals who have their own long and storied folktale history such as the snake, the owl, the fox, and the bear, and you've got a completely new perspective on an old story. And a beautifully haunting, lyrical, evocative perspective it is.
Snow White is known as Snow in Summer, her name coming from the little white flowers covering the yard.
The Snow in Summer plant, Cerastium tomentosum
We see the bulk of her story from her perspective, from the death of her mother, when she's known as Summer (because, as Summer's Cousin Nancy relates to her in a well-told tale: ”Your daddy laughed and said, 'We gonna call her all that? Snow in Summer? Don't you think she's too tiny for such a big name?' 'We gonna call her Summer,' your mama told him. 'It's warm and pretty, just as warm and pretty as she is.'”), to the arrival of Stepmama, who decided Snow was a better name (the changes in Snow in Summer's name are obvious, yet important signals in plot development), to the final, fulfilling conclusion. To add depth to the tale and to the characters, certain chapters are told from either Stepmama's or Cousin Nancy's perspectives, infrequent enough to add a piquant flavor to Snow's tale without becoming a distraction.
The novel is an expansion of Yolen's short story, "Snow in Summer," originally published in the anthology Black Heart, Ivory Bones. I'm sure I read that story as I love the anthologies produced by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling, all of them involved with fairy tale retellings, but it's been so long ago, I'd forgotten all the details of the short story, making the book a nicely unfamiliar tale for me.
I'm reshelving this book for now. I just can't quite connect with it. Jim C. Hines is a good writer, but, for some reason, there's just something missI'm reshelving this book for now. I just can't quite connect with it. Jim C. Hines is a good writer, but, for some reason, there's just something missing from his books, that extra little bit of 'oomph' that allows them to really connect with me. I had the same problem with his Goblin series: I never got past the first book because I just didn't feel invested in the characters or the story. I liked the first Princess book, The Stepsister Scheme, not only for the twist he used on the traditional fairy tales, but also because he based his novel on the traditional tales, going back to the original, dark and gruesome incarnations before they were cleaned up for the Victorian's delicate sensibilities. But this second book is just dragging along for me. I mean, it was quite easy for me to drop it in order to read another series of books, and when I picked it back up again, I'm just finding my attention wandering. But I'm giving Hines and the book the benefit of the doubt and saying that the problem lies with me and not with the author....more