Tag Archives: Fairy Tales

Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust (review by Sofie K. ’20)

Girls Made of Snow and GlassGirls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“If they love you for anything, it will be for your beauty.”

One kingdom, completely immersed in ice, the cruel outcome of an age-old curse. Two stories intertwined, each pivotal to the other. In one: a girl from the outside comes to power beside a widowed king, her glass heart colder than the eternal winter around her. In the other: a girl born and raised within the castle’s walls, created out of snow in the image of the late queen. Her only maternal influence has been her outspoken yet stoic stepmother.

And only one can be queen.

But Lynet doesn’t want the crown. Far from it, actually. She simply wants to find her own path instead of turning into the queen her father wants her to be. Besides, why would she want to take the crown away from Mina, who so desperately wants to rule over the warm, curse-free South she was raised in? Mina has everything: looks, power, composure. She makes a much better queen than the little girl who spends her free time climbing trees and stalking the new surgeon.

But life is never that simple, is it?

Girls Made of Snow and Glass takes the classic tale of Snow White and spins it in a completely new direction. For one, there are no dwarves, and Bashardoust gives Snow White–usually portrayed as a helpless child–a sense of empowerment that princesses in old fairy tales just weren’t given. It’s a fast-paced, emotional journey of self-reflection and learning what it truly means to love. – Sophie K. ’20

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Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier (review by Amelia H. ’19)

Daughter of the Forest  (Sevenwaters, #1)Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Daughter of the Forest, a retelling of a classic fairytale, is set in the ancient British Isles. The beginning of the book follows a girl named Sorcha as she grows into a teenager and has to protect her father’s lands from invaders. She is thwarted when an evil sorceress turns her brothers into swans and she has to find a way to change them back. The setup of the book was fascinating, but Sorcha’s character arc is so conventional that I knew how the story would end when I was less than halfway through the book. Marillier’s world-building draws on folk tales and mythology and creates a vivid landscape, but the plot quickly descends into predictability. The story has promise, but anyone even vaguely familiar with fantasy tropes might as well close the book a third of the way through and fill in the rest themselves. – Amelia H. ’19

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Heartless by Marissa Meyer (review by Prameela K. ’19)

HeartlessHeartless by Marissa Meyer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As a fan of Marissa Meyer and her science fiction fantasy Lunar Chronicles series, I was eager to read her standalone debut. Once I learned that Heartless was a fairy tale origin story with a Victorian setting, my anticipation only heightened. A fantasy period novel based on Alice in Wonderland? Count me in.

Heartless draws upon many aspects of Lewis Carroll’s whimsical world in Meyer’s re-imagination of the Kingdom of Hearts, where Wonderlandesque oddities and the social constructs of Victorian-era England intermingle to create a setting equally strange and captivating.

At the center is Catherine, a teenage girl with big dreams and an even bigger heart. Unlike many young adult protagonists, she is not overbearing or infuriating, and her kindness is admirable. She is a lover of all things sweet, and her aspiration in life is to open up a bakery–but her parents have different plans for her and aim to consolidate her marriage to the foolish, and incredibly annoying, King of Hearts.

Oh, but of course, there is a love interest: Jest, the roguish and devilishly handsome court jester. He has a mysteriously magical past and the obscurity of his identity may be frustrating at times, but he makes up for it with his humor and charm. He and Cath have instant chemistry and their interactions are chock-full of witty repartee. Oh, and do not forget Jest’s equally mysterious raven, who is reminiscent of Edgar Allen Poe’s famous poem and only speaks in, well, poetry. Jest is also a friend of the famed Hatter, who was really quite a hunk back in the day — before he went mad and all.

Because Cath starts out as a well-rounded character with a strong sense of right and wrong, there is little room for moral development. Instead, Meyer focuses on her progression from being an aspiring young baker to being the Queen of Hearts. The plot is filled with twists and turns as Catherine embarks on a journey to fulfill her goals and discover who she truly is. While the novel has its fair share of romance, the action is what truly captivated me–Cath’s bravery shines through when it matters the most.

At points, the plot progresses slowly, but as the page count dwindled I found myself more and more enthralled in the characters’ fates. Whopping revelations, nail-biting action sequences, and heart-wrenching plot twists combine to form a stress-inducing final 100 pages that culminate in an ending that is, at first, shocking. But after a few days of deep thinking, I realized that the plot had really been going in that direction all along, and one of the main reasons why Heartless made such a strong impression. – Prameela K. ’19

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The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories by Angela Carter (review by Andrew R. ’17)

The Bloody Chamber and Other StoriesThe Bloody Chamber and Other Stories by Angela Carter
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It won’t take the reader long to realize that the stories in The Bloody Chamber, the most famous book by the late British master Angela Carter, seem strangely familiar. In fact, each of the ten pieces in this collection is a direct descendent of a well-known fairy tale. “The Company of Wolves,” for instance, in which a vulnerable young girl travels alone through a wood infested with monstrous wolves, brings “Little Red Riding Hood” irresistibly to mind; and the lovers at the center of “The Courtship of Mr. Lyon” clearly represent Beauty and the Beast. Carter is much too canny a writer to freshen up these worn-out fairy tale narratives by changing the plot: none of the stories is given a modern setting, at least not overtly, and many end with “happily ever afters” if the original versions require it. What sets the stories in The Bloody Chamber apart from the tales that inspired them is a subtler kind of magic. Carter weaves a spell with her dispassionate, often slightly ironic narrative voice, which heightens the qualities of the original fairy tales—particularly their undertones of violence and sexuality—to make familiar narratives seem suddenly oppressive and strange. In Carter’s hands, even a tale ending “happily ever after” isn’t for the faint of heart. – Andrew R. ’17

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