Book Review: Lies, Knives, And Girls in Red Dresses

There’s a dark, twisted underbelly to fairytales that modern parents generally do not acknowledge.

Early fairytales were often moralizing, cautionary tales with very real messages: do not walk into the woods alone, do not always trust the honeyed words of strangers, not every fair face is your friend.

In the original tale, the Little Mermaid feels like she is walking on swords when she uses her legs and dies in the end of a broken heart, returning to the sea as foam.

Edmund Dulac

 Our contemporary, sanitized and Disneyfied stories are pastel-colored and always have a happy ending. While there are dark moments (notably Maleficent in Sleeping Beauty terrorized me), we are comforted and secure in the knowledge that our protagonist will succeed in their quest, often accompanied by crooning crabs.

Failure, ruin and despair don’t have much play in modern fairytales, except in books like Lies, Knives and Girls in Red Dresses by Ron Koertge (illustrations by Andrea Deszo).

Koertge makes no bones about his dark retellings; he writes on the first page:

“Do you want to sleep? Find another storyteller. Do you want to think about the world in a new way?

Come closer. Closer, please. I want to whisper in your ear.”

Even the cover promises dark dreams: a lascivious red tongued wolf threatening to gobble a girl in a red dress.

These are true retellings. Do not look here for many happy endings. At best, his characters end up with their expected version of happiness, which isn’t so permanent after all. At worst, maiming, suffering and beautiful death.

If you enjoy the original Grimm Brothers stories, if you like your tales with a razor’s edge, Lies, Knives and Girls in Red Dresses will be your cup of tea. The finely designed laser-cut illustrations from Andrea Deszo give the look of old-world woodcuts, adding a perfect punctuation to the dark-rimmed stories.

Here are twenty reimagined tales, written in free verse ranging from poetic prose to rhymed couplets. It reads like stories rather than poetry, though, and is quite easy to slide into.

My favorite is a series of five stories on Rapunzel, from the point of view of the mother, the father, the witch, the prince and Rapunzel. It will make you rethink Happily-Ever-After.



Lies, Knives and Girls in Red Dresses is available for pre-order on Amazon. It releases July 10, 2012.

Thanks to Candlewick Press and Raquel Matos for the advance copy to review.

A Room of My Own: Steven Watson

 
Today we are featuring flash fiction writer and general good guy, Steven Watson (@ashviper on Twitter). Steven was actually one of the winners of the Fairy Ring Contest. He has a blog called Stuck In My Own Mind – be sure to check it out!

Q: Please describe your space, describing any features that make it extra special to you.
A: Extra geeky with all the books, comics, statues, figures, autographs, art, etc. Most of the stuff that makes me, well me. One day I hope to have an actually office where I can fix it to display stuff of the sort instead of all grouped together in one place.

Q: What is your favorite/most inspiring object in this room?

A: Everything is inspiring in its own way, but the most important thing to me here is the shelf which you can’t see the contents of in the picture. Within is a notebook (one you get your senior year in high school that I never actually filled out) filled with cards, notes, pictures, etc. All stuff I’ve accumulated from I believe as far back as my freshman year in high school.

If it/someone is of some importance to me or made an impact in my life there is a chance there is something about them there. And greeting cards, not many, just the ones that mean something. Back up disks of writings, pictures, etc. And several notes given to me over the years and any little item of importance to me and my past. One day I may take and actually scrapbook all the stuff together.

Q: What rituals do you go thru when you want to write in this space?

A: Music. It motivates me and I’ve found with my head phones on I’m able to block out any distractions when I go to write (well, except facebook/twitter, they still get in).

Q: Any other details you would like to share about your special room.

A: Nothing really special about it. It’s just me.:)

Thanks to Steven for sharing his Room with us. Want to share your Room? Email me at annabbps AT gmail.com with a photo and answer the above questions.

Keep an eye on this space for more writers/artists and their inspirational spaces!

See the spaces of other creatives in “A Room of My Own”!

* Daniel Swensen

* Angela Goff

* Angie Richmond

* Ruth Long

* Lillie McFerrin

Thieves at Heart, Tristan J. Tarwater and the Audiobook of DOOM

Some of you may recognize the name Tristan J. Tarwater. She is the author of The Valley of Ten Crescents Series: Thieves at Heart and the soon-to-be released Self-Made Scoundrel. She also recently released Botanica Blues, an homage to Lovecraft, as well as contributes regularly to Troll in the Corner.

You can read the excellent feature of her on Surlymuse.com. Follow her on Twitter (@backthatelfup).

Tristan is a self-described Dork Mom and Geek Dame. Plus, she has vertical hair.

She writes fantasy novels. More importantly, she writes GOOD fantasy novels. Her work is awesome and so I recently pushed her Kickstarter effort in its final hours. She raised over $1500 from 62 devoted fans (of which I was one), which is over double her goal!

On the Kickstarter page, she mentioned she was considering doing an audiobook for Thieves at Heart. On a whim, I read the first chapter of Thieves at Heart into my iPhone and sent it to her. She loved it and so, HERE IS THE BIG ANNOUNCEMENT.

I will be recording the Thieves at Heart audiobook. 

*wild applause*

I’m am excited and honored to be part of this amazing project. It’s ambitious (54,000 words!), but I feel up to the challenge! More updates to come.