Tuesday, November 18, 2014

"The Rose and the Beast: Fairy Tales Retold" by Francesca Lia Block

These are fairy tale retellings set in the modern world, written in almost a poetry-like style. I remember reading these as a teen and being weirded out- but somehow I still rated it 3 Stars on Goodreads. As I reread, I was beginning to fear I'd made a terrible mistake in my original rating, because the first few weren't my cup of coffee, but they greatly improved after such a bumbling start.

I'll be individually grading each and put the overall rating at the bottom- it's much easier to review each story by story instead of generalizing them together.

"Snow" (Snow White Retelling)
I really felt this added nothing new to the story of Snow (White)- a few details were different, and the dwarves were renamed and modernized, but it didn't impress me.
Story Rating: 2 Stars

"Tiny" (Thumbelina Retelling)
Umm... the hero of this one was a major pervert, if you ask me. I liked Thumbelina's (or Tiny's, as she's called) character more than in the original fairy tale, but my enjoyment of her was overshadowed by the creepy hero.
Spoiler (Highlight to View): The 'hero' watches Tiny's mother undress through a window, and is perturbed to feel someone watching him- Tiny. Of course, he can't see her and freaks out.
Story Rating: 2 Stars

"Glass" (Cinderella Retelling)
Although the author's poetic style really shows in this one, I have to say I wasn't a fan. Maybe if something more was done with the story I wouldn't be so critical, but there was also the issue with the characters. I didn't even like the portrayal of one of my favorite fairy tale princesses, Cinderella (she actually went unnamed in this one, as far as I can tell).
Story Rating: 2 Stars

"Charm" (Sleeping Beauty Retelling)
This was the first one that I enjoyed rereading, despite being the one with the most difficult content (drugs and sexual abuse). The author manages to put a fresh spin on the story and addresses the difficult issues without it seeming out of place. I think she has powerful imagery, and she made the story her own.
Story Rating: 3.5 Stars

"Wolf" (Little Red Riding Hood Retelling)
Easily the best story in the entire book, due in part to a more relatable style. The characters were also more vivid, taking the spotlight instead of hiding in the shadows. Another darker story with themes of sexual abuse, but done in a tasteful way.
Story Rating: 4.5 Stars

"Rose" (Snow White and Rose Red Retelling)
This is the story that focuses more on issues between sisters or friends without as much happily ever after as the other stories have. Even the most lasting friendships can be damaged by jealousy and realizing that the other might have a better life, and this addresses that issue.
Story Rating: 3.5 Stars

"Bones" (Bluebeard Retelling)
I actually hadn't heard of Bluebeard before, and found out it's a French fairy tale based on a real life story- this is probably one of the more frightening ones due to the original story. This one truly gives you chills- it would almost have been suitable for my Mini Macabre Review Monday feature I had in October. The ending is what makes it so exceptional, which is why I said "Wolf" was the best short story, overall.
Story Rating: 4.5 Stars

"Beast" (Beauty and the Beast Retelling)
This one I really liked, but I've also read so many Beauty and the Beast stories that it didn't bring much new to the table for me, which is reflected in the story rating. Although a lot of the story was too much like the original (and other retellings), I liked what the author did for the ending, almost making it darker.
Story Rating: 3.5 Stars

"Ice" (The Snow Queen Retelling)
I vaguely remember the fairy tale of the Snow Queen, but didn't enjoy this story as much as I presumed I would. Even with the vague outline of the original story in my head, "Ice" wasn't much different, although I did like the style in which it was told.
Story Rating: 3 Stars

Although this collection didn't have the best of starts, the six stories at the end bolstered the rating. I'm sure there are better fairy tale retellings out there, but what made this one different was the setting in the modern world, with modern evils. I recommend this to those looking for a modern take on fairy tales, if you're willing to suffer the huge margins in the paperback edition (see below).

Overall Rating: 3 of 5 Stars for a good collection of short stories that starts out 'meh'.

Content: Ages 16+ for f-bombs, sexual abuse, drug abuse, and violence.

Page Count: 227 pages in my edition, but more like 113 due to huge margins.

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