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Fitcher's Brides

3.59  ·  Rating details ·  546 ratings  ·  53 reviews
The tale of Bluebeard, reenvisioned as a dark fable of faith and truth

1843 is the “last year of the world,” according the Elias Fitcher, a charismatic preacher in the Finger Lakes district of New York State. He's established a utopian community on an estate outside the town of Jeckyll's Glen, where the faithful wait, work, and pray for the world to end.

Vernelia, Amy, and C
Paperback, 400 pages
Published December 1st 2003 by Tor Books (first published December 6th 2002)
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Average rating 3.59  · 
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Rating: 3.5 of 5

Until late-2013 I knew jack squat about Bluebeard. That's when I started reading Bluebeard Tales From Around the World by Heidi Anne Heiner (SurLaLune Fairytales). It's some of the darkest folklore I've read: frightening and gory. So I thought it would be fun to read the retellings of Bluebeard whilst I continued (and eventually complete) Heiner's collection.

Fitcher's Brides was my first selection in a list of retellings. It presented a Bluebeard - Elias Fitcher - as someone reve
Mar 01, 2009 rated it it was ok
After finishing Briar Rose by Jane Yolen I was intrigued again by fairy tales. It has only been during the last 150 years that these persistent stories with similar elements across many cultures and times got "scrubbed" and disneyfied. Who hasn't forgotten the first time they heard the Cinderella story complete with butchered toes so that the stepsisters feet would fit the glass slipper? So I picked up this retelling of Bluebeard with much anticipation, it was set during the Great Awakening in t ...more
Jan 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is a good modern retelling of the folktale 'Fitcher's Bird' and 'The Tale of Bluebeard.' Considering the sources (I knew this was a retelling of Brother Grimms' 'Fitcher's Bird' before I began reading,) I anticipated the violence, horror and even the sexual content. Yet it turned out to be even more gruesome for my taste, and Horror isn't my cup of tea.

I remember reading Jane Yolen's 'Briar Rose' retelling few years ago. It is another novel of Tor/Ace Faery Tale series. The cult aspect in F
Lis Carey
Jan 12, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: f-sf
The latest in Terri Windling's Fairy Tale series is an adaptation of the story of Bluebeard, set in the Finger Lakes region of New York in the first half of the 19th century. I'm going to proceed on the assumption that anyone reading this is familiar with the basic Bluebeard story. A Boston widower with three beautiful daughters has remarr ied, to a woman who leads him into the orbit of a millenialist preacher, the Reverend Elias Fitcher. Rev. Fitcher has announced that the world will end within ...more
Feb 07, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: gothic, fantasy, mythpunk
"Fitcher's Brides" is a retelling of the "Bluebeard" story, updated to 19th century upstate New York where a charismatic preacher/leader named Fitcher has created a millennialist utopian community. He mentions the Shakers as a model, though he by no means puts all of the restrictions upon daily living which the Shakers had. Close, but not all. People can get married, for instance. Fitcher, especially, can get married. So a new family moves into the area with three marriagable-age daughters, and ...more
One of the obvious challenges in adapting most fairy or folk tales into full-length novels or films is how to extend them from their generally brief and undetailed versions to take 200 pages or 2 hours. Quite a few adult adaptations add in sex scenes. Disney fills up time with musical numbers. Frost, in moving Bluebeard to nineteenth-century America, fills up the empty pages with background information. The characters walk places. They clean. They make candles. They cook, say prayers, and eat. T ...more
Jun 11, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Fitcher's Brides is the latest book I've read from the Terri Windling Fairy Tale series. Some of the books in that series (like Windling's The Wood Wife and Jane Yolen's Briar Rose) are amazing while others like Tanith Lee's White as Snow have tragically gone horribly, horribly wrong. Unfortunately, Fitcher's Brides are in the latter category.

The author seemed to think that a retelling of Bluebeard set in the compound of a 19th century apocalyptic cult wouldn't be spooky or weird enough so he a
Rebekah H.

I skimmed but did not finish this book. I did read the end, which was chaotic and detached.
So, here are the reasons for the single star.

1. Obnoxious characters with all the personality of a paper cup. I felt no connection to them at all. The villainous Reverend Fitcher was merely gross, and I couldn't see him having any appeal unless you were out of your senses, or under a spell. The guy was so obvious, he made the girls look like idiots.

2. Vague, meandering style that dragged on forever

3. Too m
Nov 27, 2015 rated it liked it
Definitely not a fairy tale for children, with gore, violence & sensuality, although not so much that I gave up on it. Suspenseful to the finish, although it seemed to end rather abruptly with not nearly the attention given to the 3rd sister that had been given to the other 2. For me, it felt a bit flat in the final chapter. Otherwise, this was one of those books that was difficult to put down. ...more
Dec 16, 2013 marked it as abandoned
Nope. That sucked. Told from the simultaneous view point of all three girls who all love to explain exactly what they're going through one right after the other.

The definition of telling and not showing.
Felicia Edens
Jan 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
“Then Kate sank back upon her pillows and allowed herself the luxury of terror,” reads the closing sentence of Chapter 29 in Gregory Frost’s “Fitcher’s Brides: The Tale of Bluebeard, Re-Envisioned As A Dark Fable of Faith and Truth”. Indeed, this is much what reading the book is like: allowing yourself the luxury of terror while witnessing the effects of a twisted, power-obsessed, murderous preacher’s sermon grasping the minds of the spiritually weak community, all the while knowing that innocen ...more
Aug 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is a brilliant take on the famous fairy tale of Bluebeard, but the tone is even darker than the original tale. This Gothic, psychologically complex adaptation of the fairy tale has so many twists and turns in the plot that the reader is always been surprised by how it develops.

Instead of one bride, Bluebeard takes three brides, three sisters, one after the other, and explores the weaknesses of all of them when he gets married. So in the end what ruins them is not so much their curiosity bu
Sep 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
The book's plot took a long time to develop, but otherwise it was an entertaining and attention grabbing retelling of Bluebeard.
Feb 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
A decidedly odd book, retelling the folktale of Bluebeard/Fitcher’s Bird.
Sep 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
To be honest, its been a few years since I've read this book for a fairy tale lit class back at the university. Though my recollection of segments of the narrative may be thin, highlights stick with me like candle wax.

The setting is refreshing for a retelling of a fairytale and the use of the popular spiritualism and seance's of the period to set up some wild but somewhat believable scares. I don't think I liked the characters voices too much, or at least some of the girls I recall being a littl
Althea Ann
Nov 24, 2011 rated it really liked it
This book is quite radically different from the other entries in Terri Windling's 'Fairy Tale Series.' Most of the other books Windling selected stayed much closer to the classic feel of fairy tales in their retellings. I knew that, from what I'd read in other reviews, and for that reason waited quite a while to get around to reading this - the description just didn't appeal to me that much.

However, now I'm sorry I didn't give it a chance earlier! No, this book doesn't have that 'fairy-tale' fee
Verity Brown
Aug 31, 2012 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Completists who want to read the whole set of fairy tales.

While I enjoyed this book as I was reading it, the ending just sort of...crumbles, leaving too many loose ends and too few explanations. Throughout the story, I got the distinct impression that Fitcher was some kind of demon, or at least secretly demonic in his purposes. Everything he does and says, everything the girls discover, points in that direction. Yet at the end, he comes across as more of a narcissistic madman who genuinely believes his own rhetoric. That sudden and inexplicable shift i
Tabitha Vohn
Jan 04, 2014 rated it really liked it
What do you get when you mix a classic tale of a mythical serial killer with a New England, Messianic cult at the turn of the century? A ripping good tale, that's what. In Fitcher's Brides, Frost combines the faery stories of Bluebeard and Fitcher's Bird in a wholly unique and engrossing account of three sisters who all fall prey to an enigmatic cult leader who lures his members with promises of salvation from the apocalypse.

While those of us familiar with the faery tales will be able to "see i
Lord Humungus
Feb 19, 2014 rated it it was ok
A retelling of the fairy tale 'Bluebeard'. Frost does a good job drawing you into the lives of three sisters in 19th century New England, moving with their father and stepmother to start a new life. It feels like really did his research into everyday life during that era.

With this backdrop, he starts introducing the weird and disturbing bit by bit, slowly building the tension towards some horrific reveals.

Those familiar with the Bluebeard story aren't going to be surprised by anything in the boo
Jun 18, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Horror fans who are also history fans, readers of grown-up fairy tales
This is a truly amazing re-telling of "Bluebeard." Even though each one of the three sisters exemplifies a certain 'sin,' they are all well-rounded and interesting characters. Frost's choice of setting and time period added to the book's fascination, because the turn-of-the-century apocalyptic cults were certainly interesting. Frost also does a great job of using current events and literature of the time. Reading Fitcher's Brides made me look up Wieland or, the Transformation, an American Tale a ...more
Feb 22, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-pre-12-07, own
This is a masterful combination of the "Bluebeard" and "Fitcher's Bird" fairytales, set in New York state in the 1830s. Vernelia, Amy, and Kate have been uprooted from Boston by their father and stepmother and brought to Harbinger House, the apocalyptic community led by the Reverend Elias Fitcher. At Harbinger House, hundreds of men, women, and children live and work communally while they wait for the end of the world, which according to Rev. Fitcher will occur in just three short months. When R ...more
Michelle Wardhaugh
The collector in me is glad I got it to add to the series. The art lover in me likes the Thomas Canty painting on the cover. The story lover in me is glad I only paid $1 for it. Where a good fairy tale sums up the violence in a single sentence, Frost takes pages to describe the gore of running, spouting, viscous blood. You get to read from the point of view of the first bride as she watches her body after her head has been severed from it. The finale is such a feverish pitch of activity and tens ...more
Jun 23, 2012 rated it liked it
An interesting retelling of the tale of Bluebeard and The Fitcher Bird in one (Bluebird? Fitcherbeard?). The Bluebeard character this time round is a preacher named Elias Fitcher, who has determined that the end times are soon to come and he needs a bride in the hereafter. He sets his sights on three sisters, marrying them each in turn. The story is a little slow to get started, but once it really starts getting into the relationship of Fitcher with his brides, it turns into a real page-turner. ...more
2015 Reading Challenge - A book by an author you've never read before.
It was pretty good but the end seemed a little rushed and I wished there was a little more there. Some things weren't explained that I wanted to know about and some things that were left open were o.k. Like the sisters not explaining to Kate what happened to them after they died, that should have been left as it was. But the shades and the Angel of Death were never explained and I would have liked to know what was up with them
Will Nelson
Sep 13, 2016 rated it liked it
I liked this book a lot, because I'm a sucker for fairytales, especially Bluebeard type stories. At times it seemed like the author was just trying to stretch it out to make it fit the full novel length, so there were plot points that didn't add a lot to the main story, but that didn't kill it for me. A bit too much explicit sexual content and violence, but considering the source material I wasn't unprepared for it. The ending wasn't solid at all, and not in a fun ambiguous way -- there wer
May 08, 2012 rated it did not like it
Shelves: give-up
Urhhgh, just had to give up on this one, bored to tears and a little baffled by this author's attempt at rewriting 'Bluebeard.' The original fairy tale has so much potential to be translated to a modern setting (especially with the cult aspects in this retelling), I'm not sure why the author chose to place this in the 1800's. What with the added fantastical elements and it just makes the story more remote. Overall it was a pretty convoluted plot and I just couldn't bring myself to care about any ...more
Jan 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
part of the excellent Fairy Tale Series, with an very good introduction by editor Terri Windling. combines the Bluebeard fairy tale with another collected by Grimm called "Fitcher's Bird", and then resets the whole thing in early nineteenth century New England amid tent evangelists busily manufacturing some end-of-the-world Christian fervour. that's a lot of different elements to juggle, but the whole thing works surprisingly well, and yields some vivid characters and moments of true gothic terr ...more
Aug 06, 2012 rated it really liked it
I have never read the tale of Bluebeard before and this version of it is a tour de force scary fairytale. My grandma gave me a collection of Grimm Fairy Tales in 4tn grade which I promptly read. This might be the starting point of my ingrained paranoia and general suspicion of humans. Frost gives you a real fairy tale. Fast read with an introduction of the history of the Blubeard tale, which has been re-told for centuries.
Jean L.
Jan 10, 2013 rated it really liked it
Creepy but fascinating portrait of one of the "The Great Awakening" periods in the US. Interweaving it with an unfamiliar fairy tale added to the spookiness. I was reminded of this book after reading Libba Bray's "The Diviners", even though they were not related. This book is one of my favorites in the Tor/Ace Faery Tale series; Pamela Dean's "Tam Lin", Charles de Lint's "Jack the Giant Killer", and Jane Yolen's "Briar Rose" are the others.
Audrey Terry
Jun 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own
Oh my God. I fell for this book, hard. This is a wonderful retelling; it's creepy, it's culty, and it's gorey. And of course, it ends happily ever after. I could rave about it all day, but needless to say if you're even considering buying this, do it. This isn't a read it once and return it to the library kind of book; it's a keep it on your shelf forever with the rest of the series kind. Perfect for stormy rainy days when you wanna be creeped out in the best way.
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Gregory Frost is an American author of fantasy, science fiction and thrillers. He directs the fiction writing workshop at Swarthmore College in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania. He received his Bachelor's degree from the University of Iowa. A graduate of the iconic Clarion Workshop, he has taught at Clarion several times, including the first session following its move to the University of California at Sa ...more

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