blindmouse's Reviews > The Rose and the Beast: Fairy Tales Retold

The Rose and the Beast by Francesca Lia Block
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Apr 03, 08

bookshelves: adult-specfic, urban-fantasy, setting-usa, z-fairytales, adult-fiction, short-stories, fantasy
Recommended to blindmouse by: Jackie
Read in March, 2008

Adult fantasy short stories. Modern retellings of European fairy tales, including 'Snow White', 'Bluebeard', 'Red Riding-Hood', 'Snow-White and Rose-Red', 'Beauty and the Beast' and others.

These stories were always beautiful, frequently disturbing, sometimes touching. A few times the modern story, with its own narrative imperatives, diverged too strongly from the fairy tale to work as a retelling for me: the 'Sleeping Beauty' tale was an example of that. A few times the fairy tale referencing was too self-conscious: the 'Beauty and the Beast' tale, with its heroine who is so aware of the way the story is supposed to go, jarred with me.

But some of the insights into the fairy tales were rather cool. I liked the comment in the 'Beauty and the Beast' tale that if you fall in love with a beast, it might be disappointing to see him civilised. I liked the acknowledgment that the end of 'Snow-White and Rose-Red' is a sundering of the most important relationship in the story - the sisters are separated when Snow-White marries the bear-prince, and creating another random prince for Rose-Red doesn't fix that. I think I liked the 'Red Riding-Hood' tale best. It handles dark themes rather adroitly - the wolf is Red's step-father - and the heroine's voice is a good one.

In the final analysis, I liked this book, but academically. It was interesting, it appealed to the part of me that loves to deconstruct folk tales; but it didn't make me smile.
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