Thursday, 13 August 2015

Review: Retold: Six Fairytales Reimagined

Retold: Six Fairytales Reimagined
edited by The Book Smugglers

Pages: 145, ebook

Source: bought ebook

Publisher: Book Smugglers Publishing

Released: December 25th, 2014

From Beauty and the Beast to Scheherazade, and Baba Yaga to the North Wind, fairy tales have inspired readers for generations. In Retold, six fables from across the globe are re-imagined--with a subversive twist. This anthology collects six short stories from diverse, feminist, and original perspectives. 
- Hunting Monsters by S.L. Huang
-In Her Head, In Her Eyes by Yukimi Ogawa 
- Mrs. Yaga by Michal Wojcik 
- The Mussel Eater by Octavia Cade 
- The Astronomer Who Met the North Wind by Kate Hall 
- The Ninety-Ninth Bride by Catherine F. King 
These aren't your storybook fairy tales.
Hunting Monsters:
This was a story that attempted to define the boundaries between good and evil in monsters and humans alike. It describes a world where otherkin have the same rights as humans, whether they're monsters or not. This is a story based loosely on what happens after Little Red Riding Hood, and Beauty and the Beast.
What I loved most about this story was the deviation from a traditional family setting. Xiao Hong lives with her mother, and is raised by both her and an estranged woman whom she calls Auntie Rosa. This alteration in the traditional family setting, as well as creating a Chinese main character in a white, traditional world creates a richer world and makes her mother a far more complex character than previously believed.
Loved it. 5/5 stars

In Her Head, In Her Eyes
Hase is a woman with a pot over her head, covering her eyes. As such, she is ridiculed not only by her fellow servants but the wives of her masters. She comes from the Island, where patterns are made up and people are born with them. Hase has been sent to get inspiration for pattern ideas.
This was certainly an imaginative tale, a retelling of a Japanese tale that I've never heard of.
This story changed tones very quickly, and I found that to be jarring at some points, and as a result, I'm giving it 3/5 stars.

Mrs Yaga
I love that this story uses Polish words; it makes me feel right at home, just like Uprooted did. It also explores a mother-daughter relationship that isn't fully noticeable until the very end, when Aurelia realises that Yaga is sending all those boys on hopeless quests because she knows they're not good enough for her daughter.
It's very reminiscent of Brave, in which the daughter claims herself, instead of letting a boy do it for her.
4/5 stars

The Mussel Eater
This is a retelling of a Maori myth, which is a category I'm very unfamiliar with. Even so, the tone of the story feels ideally exotic and foreign, yet still familiar enough that I can understand some of the concepts (with Australia being so close to New Zealand).
The story is utterly seductive, with food being a way to seduce--and ultimately, shackle--the Pania. Food is the focal point of the story, with Karitoki attempting to lure the Pania with cooked food and rubbing her with scented oils in a way to humanise her, to make her his. The ending is wonderful, paying homage to the imagery of food, and is a delightfully dark feminist twist.
5/5 stars

The Astronomer Who Met the North Wind
I wasn't too much a fan of this story. It was mainly the constant telling versus showing. That sort of thing feels jarring to me, and I've never really liked it.
The sotry felt rushed, and while it was a beautiful premise with interesting characters--I loved the tricksy North Wind--it never felt fully formed to me.
I liked the honesty of the story, of Minka being defiant of all the people who try to dissuade her from being an astronomer because of her age or because of her gender. Her resistance to this wall of negativity is what drives the story, and I really liked the strength and will she displays.
3/5 stars

The Ninety-Ninth Bride
This was the longest tale, and once again, relied on telling instead of showing. As a retelling of the 1001 Nights, of course there's going to be some quick recapping of some of the stories, but it just felt so derivative. The big reveal at the end, though, was what made it stand out.
4/5 stars

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