When she was born, Her Serene and Royal Highness The Princess Amethyst Alexandra Augusta Araminta Adelaide Aurelia Anne of Phantasmorania was quite reWhen she was born, Her Serene and Royal Highness The Princess Amethyst Alexandra Augusta Araminta Adelaide Aurelia Anne of Phantasmorania was quite remarkably beautiful. She had hair more luminescent than gold, eyes more brilliant than larkspur and a complexion more delicate than wild roses and cream. And that was as it should be of course, because everyone knows that seventh princesses are always the most beautiful AND the most lucky. So everything was perfect. Really, the trouble didn’t begin until six weeks later at her christening. That’s when a particularly odd (and sometimes crabby) fairy gave Princess Amethyst the gift or ordinariness. And because the Fairy Crustacea was as powerful as she was odd (and crabby), the princess became very ordinary indeed.
As the years passed, Princess Amy (you simply couldn’t call anyone that plain Amethyst) grew to be a mousey haired girl with a turned up nose and a field of freckles across her face. Her royal parents and her six older beautiful sisters were all a bit embarrassed by Amy’s ordinariness, but Amy, for the most part, thought that it was wonderful. When no prince could be found to marry a princess so plain, the palace was in quite an uproar. But the Ordinary Princess decided not to marry and she slipped off into the Forest of Faraway - and that’s where she had an extraordinary adventure.
First published in 1980, M.M. Kaye’s wonderful fairy tale takes the traditional view of a beautiful princess in distress and turns it on its head. Princess Amy is quite able to look after herself, thank you, and her unflagging spunk and unfailing cheer see her through each and every difficulty. Truly a charming story on its own, The Ordinary Princess is enhanced greatly by Ms. Kaye’s beautiful and expressive illustrations. ...more
"You know how it is with stories. Someone tells a story. Then somebody repeats it and it changes. Someone else repeats it, and it changes again. Then "You know how it is with stories. Someone tells a story. Then somebody repeats it and it changes. Someone else repeats it, and it changes again. Then someone's telling it to their kid and taking out all the scary, bloody scenes - in other words, the awesome parts - and the next thing you know the story's about an adorable little girl in a red cap, skipping through the forest to take cookies to her granny. And you're so bored you've passed out on the floor." from A Tale Dark and Grimm
Adam Gidwitz is a very twisted man. I mean that in the very best possible way. Because there is no denying that it takes someone whose imagination is a little curvier than normal to come up with retelling the tales of the Brothers Grimm - in all their original, grisly splendor - in a way that modern readers will enjoy. And Adam Gidwitz's imagination has curls like a corkscrew.
A Tale Dark and Grimm is the story of Hansel and Gretel. Not just the bit that everyone knows, with the breadcrumbs and the witch and the oven and so forth. No, this is the full and authentic story of the intrepid twins, from their birth in a royal castle to their long wanderings and their eventual return home. Along the way, Hansel and Gretel manage to weave their way through several of the more obscure (and gruesome) tales ever collected by the Grimms.
It's almost inconceivable that A Tale Dark and Grimm is Adam Gidwitz's first novel. The prose is sharp and sly and each successive chapter lures the reader into the state of 'just a few pages more.' The skeletal framework Mr. Gidwitz has lifted from various Grimm's fairy tales is fleshed out by the author's own imaginative ideas and seamlessly interwoven with his unique observations on the Hansel and Gretel story. The intermittent interjection of the storyteller's voice, offering warnings and musings and explanations, adds just the right touch to this stellar new fantasy....more
“I am a hunter. If I can’t hunt ... I am nothing.” - Scarlett March
“I don’t answer, because therein lies the problem. Hunters don’t want more - at lea “I am a hunter. If I can’t hunt ... I am nothing.” - Scarlett March
“I don’t answer, because therein lies the problem. Hunters don’t want more - at least, not hunters who are related to Scarlett March. It’s sort of hard to justify taking dance classes when your older sister is trying to save the world.” - Rosie March
It happened seven years ago, the attack that was the beginning of all this. Before then, Scarlett and Rosie March were normal little girls, living in a normal world. But that changed when the Fenris showed up at their grandmother’s country cottage. When the man transformed, when he turned to wolf and attacked, he took everything away from Scarlett and Rosie - their grandmother, their normal life, their belief that their world was safe and free from monsters. And so the two little girls were changed forever.
Scarlett lost an eye and gained a body covered in thick, ugly scars protecting Rosie that day. In the seven years that have passed, Scarlett has honed her hatred and her need for revenge until she lives for just one thing - to hunt Fenris and to kill them. Rosie - sweet, beautiful, unmarred Rosie - can be just as fierce a hunter as her sister, but destroying the Fenris is Scarlett’s passion, not hers. Rosie owes Scarlett her life and this is the cost of that debt, to stand beside her sister and slay monsters. But sometimes, Rosie dreams of a different life, a life where she is something more than a hunter, has something more to aspire to than killing Fenris. She feels that ache for what can’t be all the more strongly whenever she’s near Silas Reynolds, Scarlett’s hunting partner and only friend. Rosie loves Scarlett with all of her heart, but that might not be enough to keep them together.
As the Fenris gather and gain power, as the young girls of Atlanta begin dying at an alarming rate, Rosie March will come face to face with the most difficult of all decisions. Will she devote her life to hunting, as Scarlett has? Or will she take a chance on that elusive something more?
I liked this book very much. In fact, there were many passages that I truly loved. So, while I found a couple of flaws with this novel (more on that later), I still feel like it’s better than most of the Y.A. paranormals being published these days. Ms. Pearce does a brilliant job building the atmosphere. This is a dark, gritty novel and an aura of tension, and of menace, hangs over every page. The evil of the Fenris is palpable throughout, like the leftover steam from a shower you can’t help but to breathe it in as you uncover the fear the creatures both inspire and thrive upon.
The combining of an unique werewolf mythology, the modern world and a very loose adaptation of Little Red Riding Hood is another one of Sisters Red’s great strengths. The plot and the setting are fresh and original, yet there are these little pings of familiarity - the red cloaks, a basketful of fresh-baked goodies - that somehow make the action more immediate and intimate.
It can’t have been easy to write a 300+ page novel with just three characters and a pack of monstrous villains carrying most of the action, but Ms. Pearce was more than up to the task. Scarlett’s world, and perforce Rosie’s world, is small, circumscribed by the events of the past and by Scarlett’s own need to eliminate the Fenris at all costs. Outside of the hunt, all the world has lost meaning for Scarlett. Only Silas, Rosie and the need to kill Fenris exists for her. Even the unknown girls she seeks to protect - those who live without knowledge of the Fenris - make little impression on her. Silas has seen more of the world and has openly refused to be JUST a hunter. He will hunt and he will kill, but he also wants more from life. He is less driven, and therefore more open to the rest of the world. Rosie March falls somewhere in between Scarlett and Silas, both in her character and in her role in this novel. Just sixteen, Rosie has just begun to look at the world with her own eyes, has only started to regret a future that holds only hunting. The way in which these three characters interact, the way their bonds form and stretch and break and form again, is both the heart of this compelling novel and the core of the narrative plot.
Those are the things I loved about Sisters Red, which brings me to the things I saw as flaws. So, I have to warn you: **********BELOW THIS LINE BE (MILD) PLOT SPOILERS**********
I have to mention the difference in Silas’s and Rosie’s ages (21 and 16, respectively), though I wasn’t nearly as bothered by it as some reviewers. Taken in the context of the novel’s modern setting, the relationship between a young man with some experience of the world and a girl who has been essentially sheltered from all worldly things treads a treacherous border - bad taste on one side, perversity on the other. But, as I said, it didn’t bother me as much as it might have, mainly because their love has a sweet, pure feel to it that fits with the notion of a fairy tale romance and Sisters Red is a fairy tale in the best, dark-hearted tradition of the Brothers Grimm.
My second problem with the novel was something that felt to me like a flaw in the logic of Scarlett’s character. Scarlett vehemently and repeatedly stresses that those who have knowledge of the Fenris have a responsibility to hunt, thereby protecting those who live in ignorance. Yet no mention is ever made of trying to enlighten the general populace. Scarlett does have a thought, in passing, to the effect that the young girls designated to be the victims of the Fenris would never believe her if she told them about the monsters, but no real effort is ever made to bring the monsters’ existence to light, nor is there any indication that such an attempt was made in the past. It seems to me that if Scarlett’s sense of responsibility is as strong as she purports, and I have no reason to doubt that it is, than she would have tried, at least once, to let people know that the Fenris exist.
The third problem I had with this book is a major plot flaw, at least to my way of thinking, and it is also where the spoiler comes in so here’s your last chance to look away. The reason given for the increase of Fenris around Atlanta, the whole motivation for most of the action in the novel, is that the Fenris packs are actively seeking a Potential - a man who, for one moon phase only, can be made into one of them. Adding this one member to their ranks is so important to the Fenris that every Pack Alpha has sent out all available members to find him. In other words, increasing their membership by just one is vitally important. Yet Scarlett has killed more than 90 Fenris in the past seven years and appears to have made little to no impression on the packs. She’s reduced their numbers by more than 90, yet the Pack Alphas aren’t even aware of her, aren’t seeking her, aren’t even trying to figure out what happened to their 90+ brothers. This while turning all of their resources to adding just one man to the Fenris ranks. It makes absolutely no sense.
Okay, I’ve rambled on for far too long and I’ve gotten all of my gripes of my chest, so I should wrap this up. I still think it bears repeating, though: this novel is brilliant - flawed, yes, but still brilliant....more