Keir's Reviews > Kissing the Witch: Old Tales in New Skins

Kissing the Witch by Emma Donoghue
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's review
Nov 29, 2010

liked it
bookshelves: fantasy, retelling
Read from November 29 to December 01, 2010

This one almost gets 4 stars, but not quite. Basically it is 13 European fairy tale retellings all with female narrators that are loosely strung together with a minor character from one story taking on the main role in the next. It kind of reminded me of the story-in-a-story format of some of the Arabian Nights tales and I almost expected it to come full circle, but it didn't.

I really like fairy tale retellings which is the main reason I read this book, but the thing I like about them is that they both reinterpret and flesh out the old tales. This book was very short and didn't really flesh out the tales, but it did give a few very different interpretations which was nice. Some were very good and others just sort of okay. If you read deep, there is probably a lot I missed. It seemed like there was a feminist theme as it focused on female narrators, female relationships, and the 13 stories probably equating to the 13 moon-cycles per year.

I easily recognized all of the original fairy tales with the exception of the last one which, when I looked it up, turned out not to be a specific fairy tale. All are pretty common tales with "Thumbelina" and "The Goose Girl" being the most obscure. If you want to read the originals first, here's the tale origins stolen from the author's website:

‘The Tale of the Shoe’, Based on the Grimms’ folk tale of Cinderella.

‘The Tale of the Bird’, Based on Hans Andersen’s Thumbelina.

‘The Tale of the Rose’, Based on Madame le Prince de Beaumont’s Beauty and the Beast.

‘The Tale of the Apple’ Based on the Grimms’ folk tale of Snow White.

‘The Tale of the Handkerchief’, Based on the Grimms’ folk tale of the Goose Girl.

‘The Tale of the Hair’, Based on the Grimms’ folk tale of Rapunzel.

‘The Tale of the Brother’, Based on Hans Andersen’s Snow Queen.

‘The Tale of the Spinster’, Based on the Grimms’ folk tale of Rumpelstilskin and similar stories of magical helpers.

‘The Tale of the Cottage’, Based on the Grimms’ folk tale of Hansel and Gretel.

‘The Tale of the Skin’, Based on the Grimms’ folk tale of Donkeyskin.

‘The Tale of the Needle’, Based on Perrault’s Sleeping Beauty.

‘The Tale of the Voice’, Based on Hans Andersen’s Little Mermaid.

‘The Tale of the Kiss’, Not based on any source text, but suggested by various folk motifs about oracles and magic helpers, discussed in Marina Warner’s FROM THE BEAST TO THE BLONDE.

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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Lacey (new)

Lacey Louwagie I have this book! Haven't read it yet though.

Keir It's a quick read. I read half of it last night.

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