Therese's Reviews > In the Suicide Mountains

In the Suicide Mountains by John Gardner
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May 15, 12

bookshelves: childrens-literature, fantasy-and-sci-fi, literary-and-general-fiction, re-read, fairy-tales
Recommended for: Lovers of modern-day fairy tale retellings

A book like no other - a charming, memorable, unbounded modern fairy tale for adults. Set in an indeterminate time and place (vaguely Slavic, vaguely Belle Epoque, with some medieval elements), it's the story of a good-hearted but widely despised magic shape-shifting dwarf ... a beautiful maiden strong as an ox who pretends to be stupid and weak so men will adore her ... and a prince who'd rather play the violin than joust. When they all decide to go up to the Suicide Mountains to end their lives, they meet each other, and storytelling and adventures ensue.

I had read this book many years ago, but it always stuck in my mind, and one day for someone reason I was trying to explain to my boyfriend how cool it was, and ended up wanting to re-read it. I had also forgotten how much I liked the illustrations. (This was part of the conversation where the book came up - more books for grown-ups should have illustrations! More books should have pictures!)

Gardner intersperses very traditional Brothers Grimm-esque fairy tales within an original, cleverly nontraditional framing narrative, laced with moments of very modern philosophical musings and humor. It's a quick read, and while it may not be everyone's cup of tea, I guarantee it will leave you with a lot to think about.
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