Category Archives: Fairy Tales

Dearest (Woodcutter Sisters #3) – Alethea Kontis

Dearest
Following Enchanted and Hero, this third installment of the Woodcutter sisters books is about Friday (the sweet, good, selfless and caring seamstress). Borrowing from fairy tales such as “The Wild Swans”, “The Goose Girl”, and “Peter Pan” this is a delightful mix of stories that allow Friday to shine. Continue reading

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The Stepsister’s Tale – Tracy Barrett

The Stepsister's Tale.jpg

The Stepsister’s Tale by Tracy Barrett is the story of Cinderella from the perspective of the eldest stepsister and it is AMAZING! Continue reading

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The Valiant Little Tailor

Fairy Tale Fridays

Once more, another tale paraphrased from the Brothers Grimm! This week it is The Valiant Little Tailor which I knew as “The Brave Little Tailor” (thanks Disney) growing up.

The Valiant Little Tailor

My summary:

A little tailor buys some jam and sets it aside to eat after finishing his work.  The jam attracts some flies and he kills seven flies with one blow of a cloth.  Much impressed with himself, he makes a belt that reads “Seven at one stroke!” and sets off into the world to share his prowess.  Before leaving, he stocks his pockets with some old cheese and a small bird which he frees from some branches outside the window. Continue reading

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The Fisherman and His Wife

Fairy Tale Fridays

I felt the urge to read some more Brother’s Grimm after a long hiatus, so here is a Fairy Tale Friday!  This week’s tale is The Fisherman and His Wife – paraphrased from my copy of Grimm’s Complete Fairy Tales by the Brothers Grimm.

The Fisherman and his Wife by Alexander Zick Continue reading

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Blood Red

Blood Red

I think I’m just going to have to resign myself to super inconsistent posts, since I haven’t had too much time or energy for reading fiction.

I did get quite excited when I realized that Mercedes Lackey had a new Elemental Master’s novel, Blood Red.  I really love this series.

As you might surmise from the cover, this is a twist on the Little Red Riding Hood fairytale.  It deviates from the other Elemental Masters novels a little I think, but I really enjoyed it.  For one, it’s set in Europe – Germany and Transylvania instead of England. It also introduced supernatural creatures – werewolves and vampires, that have been distinctly missing from other books I’ve read.  I had a little more trouble buying in to those depictions to be honest, although it does tie in to the elemental world by explaining at least one of the kinds of werewolf.

Rosamund (the “Little Red Riding Hood” character) is an Earth Master.   She was rescued by her adoptive father, a Hunt Master and Earth Magician of the Schwarzwald Foresters, when her original teacher (the “grandmother”) was murdered by a werewolf.   Rosamund has now grown up to be a Hunt Master herself, as her Earth powers tend more toward protection than healing.

While visiting with a friend of her adoptive father, Rosa meets a pair of Elemental Magicians from Hungry who have come seeking help.  She must set aside her prejudice – as one of these magicians is also a hereditary werewolf. Her mentor insists that the hereditary werewolves are not to be feared – for they are on the path of the protectors, but Rosa is not so sure.  As she travels into dangerous territory, can she trust those who are guarding her back?

A few thoughts:

  • I liked the different setting.  Most of the other books are set in England, with a few elsewhere.  This felt like an entirely different flavour, taking place mostly in Europe and Transylvania.
  • The book was more violent than others in the series – which I guess is to be expected when it’s about a evil-fighting Hunt Master who is tracking down werewolves.  There were lots of fighting, and the werewolves in Transylvania are particularly unsavory characters!
  • It’s pretty predictable and clichéd, but since I love that kind of structure I appreciated that part of things.
  • Rosamund is pretty kick-ass.  It’s nice that she has to address some of her deep-seated prejudices, but I feel she’s just a little bit too… goo to be realistic.  Good not in the nice/pious sense, but more in the “I can of course take on any monster that comes my way and with a lot of self-confidence because I’m simply awesome” kind of way.  She has a few moments of self-doubt but they didn’t feel congruent with the way she acts for most of the book.  Maybe I was less sold on Rosamund because you meet her as a young girl, but then AFTER she’s done all her training and has become this crazy, skilled Hunter.  She goes from a young girl to a fearsome predator of evil things, and it’s a harsh transition.
  • There is a LOT of description and despite what you’d expect, relatively little action.

I did enjoy it overall, and would probably say a 4/5 (although if you’re a huge fan of other Mercedes Lackey Elemental Masters books, this might be a disappointment).

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UnEnchanted (An Unfortunate Fairy Tale #1)

Unenchanted

Unenchanted  by Chandra Hahn was the latest book on my reading list.

Mina Grime is a quiet, clumsy, unpopular, and extraordinarily unlucky teenage girl drifting through high school trying not to get noticed.  With her family barely squeaking by, Mina doesn’t have a cell phone and her means of transportation is a rusty old bicycle.

When she goes on a class field-trip to a nearby bakery, everything changes. When Mina saves the most popular (handsome, rich, nice) boy from a freak-accident, she is thrust into the limelight.  Her new fame, and her mother’s reaction to it, reveals that Mina is the victim of an old family curse.  The Grimm brothers – for Mina is a Grimm not a Grime – made a deal with the fae that trapped them, and all their descendants, into a race to complete the Story.  Mina must finish ALL the tales, before she becomes the Story’s next victim.

What a unique idea!  Mina is forced to live through all the 200+ Grimm tales before she can free herself (and the rest of her family) from the Grimm curse.  This is a very TALL order, given the sheer volume of tales.  Plus the fact that many of them have decidedly unhappy endings. (No one in her family has managed to complete the tales yet).

I had a really hard time deciding whether I actually liked Mina or not.  She is somewhat of a stereotypical teenage girl – filled with unrequited teenage lust (a crush on the most popular boy) as well as over-blown teenage angst/drama.  I always hope for a strong female character, and for most of the book Mina was very disappointing in that regard.  Yes, she saved Brody (the popular guy) but her numerous overreactions and copious tears really didn’t sell me on her personality or her gumption.  She’s all like “Yeah! I’ll defeat the story!” but then when faced with anything she turns into a crying “Oh, someone save me!” pathetic and passive doll.  I was very concerned.  She redeems herself a teensy bit by figuring out that maybe SHE should DO something to save HERSELF by the end, but it was a passing and very short moment followed quickly by tears.  (Admittedly I sort of sympathized with those tears, but seriously she was a fountain for most of the book so they annoyed me more than they stirred sympathy in me).

So I guess the answer is: I didn’t really like her most of the time.

I did like the idea of mashing up and modernizing a bunch of fairy tales, and I still think that holds merit as a plot line.  Given the fact that she (spoiler) finished only THREE tales, I’m not so sure that she’s going to get through the Story. There are sequels, and I’ll be willing to give them a try to see if Mina turns from being a quivering lump of no-action jelly into a strong character who can actually get stuff done.

3.5/5 on this one. (Which is too bad, since I really enjoyed other Chandra Hahn books I’ve read, like The Iron Butterfly).

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Phoenix and Ashes

Phoenix and Ashes

Sometimes you just need a good, distracting book that you can lose yourself in.  That’s what this one was for me.  It’s not the first time I’ve read Phoenix and Ashes  but I needed something the was familiar but still gripping.  This book, by Mercedes Lackey, has all the elements I enjoy – historical fiction, a fairy tale, magic, a love story, a strong female character, and a happy ending.  The WWI-era setting highlights the divisions between social class, and the changes that “the great war” wrought on British society.

In this re-telling of Cinderella, Eleanor’s hopes and dreams are shattered when her father dies, leaving her in the thrall of his evil new wife, who quickly binds Eleanor to her will and imposes menial slavery on the girl.  Instead of a life at Oxford filled with learning, Eleanor has a life of hard work filled with laundry.

But Eleanor is coming into her own powers and if she can learn enough she might just be able to escape Allison’s clutches, with the help of her godmother, a friendly local witch who helps start her magical education.

Eleanor watches as Allison and her girls set their sights on Reggie – a war-hero who is on medical leave (recovering from a knee injury and “shell-shock”).  Eleanor and Reggie are drawn together by circumstance and then friendship.   Can Eleanor find an Air-master to help her and Reggie get over his crippling fear before it’s too late?

At first, I have to admit, Eleanor rubbed me the wrong way.  For the first few chapters she always annoys me, because all she does is wallow in the misery of her situation.  But then her fiery personality kicks in and she becomes a determined and much more likeable character.  By the end of the book I always really love her.

Reggie I liked from the start.  He provides an interesting insight into the experiences of the WWI soldiers  (even though this is clearly fiction I’m sure much of his description of the trenches runs true). I appreciate his thoughts on the senselessness of the war, and his horror around the casual way droves of men were sent over to die, with the outdated notion that all that was needed was “one big push”.  It is also an interesting look at shell-sock (PTSD), which was unfortunately considered “malingering” by many old-fashioned folk during that time.

Of course I LOVE that this is an adaptation of Cinderella, with twists.  In this one, the stepmother and stepsisters have no redeeming qualities – they are very clear-cut stereotypes of the “evil” step-family.  There’s enough other nuance in the way the book looks at the great war that this depiction is appropriate for the story. And sometimes it’s nice to have a clear-cut hero!

5/5

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