fairy tales

Review: Every Heart A Doorway

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Review: Every Heart A Doorway

Alice fell down a rabbit hole to Wonderland. Dorothy was whisked away to Oz by a tornado. Wendy, Michael, and John flew away to Never Land with Peter Pan, and Harry Potter could just go to Platform 9¾ whenever he needed to enter the wizarding world. Literature is full of examples of children who stepped (or fell. Or were dragged) into one of many different variations of fairyland..

Some children when they return are happy to have escaped alive. Most grow up and remember their adventure as a childhood daydream. A few get to stay in fairyland forever. Seanan McGuire’s Hugo-nominated novella Every Heart a Doorway is set in Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children, a school for those travelers who’d do anything to go back.

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Review: The Raven and the Reindeer

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Review: The Raven and the Reindeer

I read The Raven and the Reindeer by T. Kingfisher (known as Ursula Vernon to her friends, and ursulav to those of us who follow her on deviantart) back in February and I loved it to pieces, but I didn’t write the review right away. Fast forward six months and I thought if I want to do a good review, I ought to read it again.

No kidding, it’s even better the second time around. And the first time it was amazing.

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Review: Bone Swans

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Review: Bone Swans

The beautiful cover art for C.S.E. Cooney’s 2015 book Bone Swans was what first caught my eye. The fact that it’s a short-story collection meant I’d definitely get around to reading it sooner or later, but seeing that at least two of the stories were retold fairy tales sealed the deal; a 99-cent sale for an e-copy of the book was overkill, but much appreciated.

I’m really glad I picked this one up; I’ve never ready any of Cooney’s work before, but she’s automatically on my favorites list now. Her style is equal parts folksy, flamboyant, romantic, lyrical, filled with atmospheric paragraphs you fall into. The characters are just smart-aleck enough to make me root for them, and each of the five stories here is a jewel.

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Review: I Hate Fairyland – Volume One

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Review: I Hate Fairyland – Volume One

“Over the top” doesn’t begin to cover it.

The first volume of Skottie Young’s I Hate Fairyland isn’t some sweet story in a land of spun-sugar towers and graceful unicorns, or the otherworldly beauty of Oz. It isn’t even the cute cartoon mayhem of his Little X-Men, Little Avengers issues.

Fairyland is violent and goofy and gross, as wacky a mess as you could ever want. Remember Toon Town in Who Framed Roger Rabbit? It’s like that, only much much worse.

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Review: Letters To Zell

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Review: Letters To Zell

My wedding is going to be awesome. In two short weeks, I’ll walk down the aisle with a man I don’t love, flanked by friends who aren’t speaking to me, and, afterward, I’ll celebrate by killing my stepmother.

I can’t imagine why you wouldn’t want to come…

The main characters of Camille Griep’s first novel Letters to Zell would probably hear the phrase “fairytale romance” and just laugh and laugh. Cinderella’s husband doesn’t understand her, Snow White is engaged to a good friend for purely political reasons, and Sleeping Beauty married a complete jerk who’s sleeping with everyone in the realm except her. And all of that was before Rapunzel decided to chuck everything and move to Oz to raise unicorns.

Who knew that happily-ever-after would be so damn difficult to find?

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Review: Toad Words, and Other Stories

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Review: Toad Words, and Other Stories

Talking stags, on the other hand, were nearly always bespelled royalty, and fairies, who could theoretically choose to look like anything, nearly always picked white cats or black horses. Fairies are very beautiful and very vain and they haven’t got the imagination to fill a thimble. And they never learn from their mistakes.

I’ve followed Ursula Vernon over on deviantart for years, mostly for her gorgeous paintings and collages of clockwork creatures, animal saints, hamster warriors, and other beautifully absurd beasties. Almost more than the art, though, I loved the descriptions. She loves to drop the reader smack into the middle of a new world, one she created just to explain why she drew an Iguanodon in a gardener’s hat, or because she liked the name “bramble dragon” and needed a place to put one.

Between deviantart and her blog, I’ve gotten hooked on her writing, and was hoping to someday own a book of her short stories. So you can imaging all the cheering when I ran across “Toad Words, And Other Stories.” (Written under the name T. Kingfisher, since she writes a lovely series of children’s books and likes to keep this slightly more adult work under a different name.)

It’s a book of re-told fairy tales, all in the quirky, matter-of-fact-in-the-face-of-total-nonsense style that I’ve always loved. They’re often dark, sometimes sad, but always endearing, even when they’re disturbing. She’s taken the stories we’ve grown up with and asked why people stuck in a fairy tale would do the things they do. She also assumes we might have only heard one person’s side of the story; who knows what actually happened.

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The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There

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The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There

It was around this time last year that I read Catherynne M. Valente’s The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making (my review of it is here.) After reading it I cheerfully said “The sequel just came out! I can’t wait to read it!”

Apparently I could wait, because it took me a year to get around to it. And I’m kicking myself for waiting so long. I recommend you read it sooner.

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The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making

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The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making

I was honestly relieved when I ran across The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, because here is a book that has everything I was looking for.

Lately I feel like publishers are pushing so hard for books in the currently popular genre of vampires, magic, Game Of Thrones ripoffs, et cetera, that they’re not paying attention to the fact that half of it reads like bad fan fiction–full of predictable plot lines and really awful dialog. (Yes, I read fan fiction; we all have our guilty pleasures.) So I’m always happy when an author like Catherynne M. Valente, who knows how to write, gets published.

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Comments Off on Fairy Tale – A True Story

Fairy Tale – A True Story

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Fairy Tale, in short, is well made and charming – but it is not a movie for everyone. It’s not busy enough or filled with enough fairies for children, but it does have a lot of interesting commentary (and non verbal commentary) about the value of faith in people’s lives.

The true story is: in 1917, two cousins (Florence Hoath and Elizabeth Earl, bith excellent) take photographs of the fairies they believe with all their hearts that live in the beck behind their house. It’s like a creek. The children are 8 and 12 and take a remarkably adult approach to the fairies – we the audience have no doubts as to their belief and their respect for the fairies. Adults, shockingly enough, do not believe in fairies, but like the angel fever of today, deep down, they want to. So the photos are examined by professionals and nothing is found to be tricky and the great debate begins – are the photos of fairies real or
not?

My main problem with the film was that I had not a moment’s doubt of the fairies’ existence because I saw them all the time (true story label or no, it was presented from the girls’ point of view and therefore the fairies are definitely real) – but the debate centered on whether the *photographs* were real. In these modern times, the proof is in the picture.

It was lovely and it was touching to see how the belief in the fairies helped people – and it was interesting to see how 80 years ago the power of the press to exploit beauty, purity and goodness was just as strong as it is now. Peter O’Toole plays Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, a man who writes fantasy but lives pragmatics, and Harvey Keitel plays Harry Houdini, a man who lives fantasy by employing secret pragmatics. They are, as many reviewers have already noted, surprisingly understated in not stealing the movie from the children, and they are lovely endpieces to the debate. The best part is, being the effusive actors that they are, they manage to get across their character’s celebrity without tainting it with their own. I
personally have little patience for Pumpkinhead, er, I mean Harvey Keitel, but I appreciated him very much in this film.

Houdini’s job is reliant on the faith of his audience; Doyle’s job is create fiction with a basis in hard scientific reality (for the time). It’s an interesting debate that is carried on in slow, picturesque European casualness, with lovely dragonfly winged fairies and a lot of really deeply felt emotions. I found it sweet and lovely and I enjoyed the vulnerability of the men especially.

The period details are delicious – lots of cool photolab information and props (the kind of stuff I really dig but I know you guys don’t actually care). The dolls house for the fairies is positively dreamy. The production of Peter Pan (do I have to point out the symbolism?) with the classic theatrical technology was a delight as well.

It’s Arthur Rackham vs the Adult/Capitalist/Industrial Revolution – the obsession with exploiting the extraordinary and making it ordinary. The worst part is remembering that these women recently came forward with the truth about the pictures. Notice I do not reveal it here. Director Charles Sturrige does not grant us an epilogue card at the end to tell us the result, which I appreciated. The cinematographer does a great Fairy-Cam too.

Full Price for the production team’s work. Matinee Price with a snack for the movie as a whole – it does not pick a sie, so it meanders like a Yorkshire beck; a nice bit of a trot but not richly fulfilling. It will quickly be forgotten which is a shame since it is a very interesting story and the theme is especially timely. If you are writing a paper inspired by the paparazzi-riddled lives of celebrities and the loss of privacy and sacredness in the world, then buy the laserdisc when it comes out.

MPAA Rating PG
Release date 10/24/97
Time in minutes 99
Director Charles Sturrige
Studio Paramount Pictures