I had a hard time working out how I felt about this book. It intrigued me enough to buy the audio version after reading the sample, as a very descriptive and imaginative collection of short, original fairy tales. They sounded very much like Grimm’s fairy tales, but with more coherence (a lot of the original Grimm’s tales make absolutely no sense, and don’t even seem to have a point.) But as I listened, my mind wandered most of the time, and I had a hard time paying attention to the story or caring about what happened to the characters. This review is mostly my attempt to figure out why that was.
First, I think short stories might be hard to get into in general, because there’s not enough time to really develop a character or care about them. It’s rare for me to immediately connect with a protagonist—it happens on rare occasion, but like in real life, deeper connections generally take time to build.
Second, fairy tales tend to be heavy on description, because they’re set in fantastical worlds, I suppose. Some of this is fine, but I guess I’m a “less is more” kind of a girl. Give me a few details, and my imagination can fill in the rest. If a writer goes into great detail, I get bored. Get on with the action already.
Third, in a fairy tale world, by definition, anything can happen with no explanation. I get this, and I go into them willing to suspend my disbelief… but I think someone like me still needs a set of foundational rules that I have to accept, within which framework everything else should still make sense. If ANYTHING can happen at any time, I suppose it is so different from the world in which I live that I can’t identify with the characters or put myself in their shoes. This means I don’t care what happens to them, because I’m so aware the whole time that it’s not real. (This might sound silly, but when I’m immersed in a really good story, I forget that it’s not real!)
That said, for what they were, I can’t imagine that the stories could have been any better. If you like fairy tales that are a little on the darker side and don’t necessarily have a “happily ever after,” you’ll probably love this collection.
My rating: ***
Jim Strawn says
I always thought of fairy tales as more cautionary than entertaining. Some of the original stories that the fairy tales we know are based on are very dark and Grimm.