All posts filed under: Fairytales & Folklore

Moss Gown by William H. Hooks

This book makes me cry every time I read the final pages. (No cheating!) Moss Gown is Cinderella meets King Lear set in the Deep South. “Gris-gris, gris-gris, grine, Who’ll wear my gown so fine?” (pg16) Candace is banished by her wicked sisters from their plantation home after giving a plain, unadorned answer to her father’s question, where her sisters sought to flatter their father’s vanity. Candace, who adopts the name ‘Moss Gown’, goes to work at a plantation house where the young Master is going to throw a three-day picnic with dancing. In the woods, Candace meets the Gris Gris Woman who gives her a magic gown for the ball and instructions to call her name if she needs help. Of course, Moss Gown (transformed by the magic of the Gris Gris woman) and the young Master meet and fall in love… For those of you readers who have read King Lear, you can guess the rest of the outcome of the story. Donald Carrick is the illustrator and while it’s not my favorite …

Snow White by Charles Santore

Snow White, illustrated by Charles Santore (Park Lane Press, a division of Random House) These are gorgeous, detailed illustrations that look like paintings based on real-life models. I love the opening image of the queen doing her needlework glancing longingly out onto a snowy landscape, a warm, rough-woven shawl and a grey tabby to keep her company. The illustrations are beautiful.  The style of the piece has a medieval flair with a central courtyard surrounded by a high wall (castle wall?) with turrets and a boxwood garden where Snow White plays. Santore has captured the innocence and sweetness and most importantly, the youth of Snow White, who is only seven years old when the new Queen decides she must die.  That’s something Disney doesn’t get right.  Disney’s Snow looks WAY too old already to be a child, let alone to fit in the dwarves’ small home. There is so much action in the forest with wild boars, wolves, bears, birds, even a red-spotted gecko which is great (and unexpected).  The forest she finds herself in …

The Girls at the Kingfisher Club by Genevieve Valentine

In a not-so-quiet townhouse, somewhere in Manhattan, there are twelve Hamilton sisters, shut away from the world by an embarrassed father. The eldest, Jo, is a surrogate mother figure, de facto leader (earning her the moniker “The General”), and dance instructor. It is the Roaring Twenties and the girls know every popular dance from the Foxtrot to the Charleston. Having discovered a way to disappear unseen in the twilight hours, the sisters visit a string of speakeasies, dancing and flirting, and finally settling on The Kingfisher Club as home. When a police raid thrusts Jo into the path of an old flame, Tom, the gossiping talk about the Hamilton sisters reaches their father’s ears. Desperate to be rid of them, he forms a plan to marry them all off. It’s up to Jo to circumvent their father’s plans but at what cost to her heart? There is a lot of territory to cover with twelve girls and their love lives over a period of eight years and we get Jo’s impression of each sister in staccato …

The Amaranth Enchantment by Julie Berry

I’ve been meaning to read this for well over a year now.  Each time I see the cover of the girl holding the beautiful, magical flower, I’ve thought “hmm, maybe later.” Then finally, that day came.  While this novel is firmly rooted in YA fantasy (with some of the usual characteristics), I would classify it as a sub-genre of fairy tale. We have a heroine, a handsome prince, and a “witch”. There’s a conflict that separates them being together and the witch helps the heroine overcome the obstacles, yada yada yada. It’s a faraway kingdom that doesn’t exist in our modern world (typical fairy tale setting). What I find so fascinating about this book is that it’s not really a Cinderella retelling (although there is some tongue-in-cheek nods to it).  The witch isn’t really a fairy godmother either.  My local library actually has this classified under “extraterrestrials” in the database, believe it or not, which made me do a double-take. The Amaranth Enchantment is a stand-alone title. It’s the first book by Julie Berry that …

Strands of Bronze and Gold by Jane Nickerson (Strands of Bronze and Gold #1)

Tucked away in a backwater Mississippi town is Wyndriven Abbey, home of the mysterious, intoxicating Bernard de Cressac. Sophia Petheram enters her godfather’s world as an orphan and is captivated by his gusto for life. However, Sophia soon discovers an eerie commonality between de Cressac’s former wives and herself: they all have hair in strands of bronze and gold. This awakening brings the realization of how isolated Sophia’s world has become, and how little she really knows about her host. From debut novelist Jane Nickerson comes this re-imagining of Bluebeard and his many wives. Several changes from the Charles Perrault version refashion the cautionary tale into a Gothic mystery with supernatural elements, drawing parallels between Sophia’s gilded cage and the trials of slave life. Sophia becomes a proactive heroine determined to exhume the secrets of the Abbey by reaching out to its inhabitants and neighbors. The champion of the story is its setting. Nickerson, a former Mississippian, transports us to the antebellum South where the sweltering heat and mossy oaks are as magical as an …

Belle by Cameron Dokey (Once Upon A Time #14)

This was a sweet retelling of Beauty and the Beast set in a French-speaking coastal town.  What sets this version apart from other B&TB versions that I’ve read is the musings on beauty and ugliness from Belle, who believes that she is not beautiful.  Her two sisters are Beauties, with a capital ‘B’, the kind of mythic beauty like Venus or Helen of Troy. Disney-fed fans of Beauty and the Beast may not recognize the humbler origins of this story.  The name ‘Belle’ may be one of a few similarities to the watered-down version.  Belle’s father is a merchant whose ships get lost in a storm.  Consequentially, they must all move to the country and start over. Belle’s sisters are relatively equal, each having their strengths of personality and their weaknesses.  Dokey humanizes Celeste and April in this version and we come to care about all three girls struggles with love and enduring the shift from city life to country life. One charming element that sets this story apart is the Heartwood Tree, a tree …