This is a collection of retold fairy tales. Some of the stories are some of the better of this genre, in the vein of Angela Carter. Others left me just puzzled. The author lists her influences in the back of the book, which I liked because I wasn’t sure about some of them. She didn’t just work from the brothers Grimm; she also has Biblical influences, Shakespeare, the Wind in the Willows, and even does a riff on the Velveteen Rabbit (which I thought was a really creepy tale).
These are not pretty tales; they are all on the dark side. The ‘Wind in the Willows’ one, “Some of Us Had Been Threatening Our Friend Mr. Toad” is about as dark as you can get, seeing how far people can go in the name of ‘helping’ others. One really different aspect to these stories is how Ortberg puts a spin on gender and terminology; princesses can be male or female, as can wives and husbands or sons and daughters. I liked the idea of ‘wife’ being a job description rather than a term fixed by one’s genitals! The author also has a wicked sense of humor that comes out at times. Four stars.
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