Friday, July 8, 2011

Book Review: The Rose and the Beast

Author: Francesca Lia Block
Title: The Rose and the Beast: Fairy tales retold 
Description: This book is a selection of nine retellings of fairy tales, all set in contemporary  United States.
Review source: nope, this one I wanted and purchased on my own (I know, you didn’t think I did that…)
Plot: The short stories are not connected, other than stylistically and by the fact that they are fairy tales.
Characters: Block’s most memorable characters are her heroines. A book like this one really brings it home how victimized women were and are. Fairy tale has to be one of the most misogynistic, brutal genres around. It’s a wonder more children aren’t traumatized by them (though I have to admit that I was pretty traumatized for awhile as a youngster, worried about wolves getting in to my house).
Writing style: Just beautiful. Vivid imagery, unique metaphors. Normally when I think about someone updating folk tales, it means that they are made less archetypal and at the same time less poetic, since modern life strikes me as prosaic and grungy. This book, though, defies that characterization.
Audience: me! I have to admit I do love retellings of fairy tales, and these are lovely. I think the book is characterized as YA, but there is some pretty grim (ha!) subject matter (though not graphic depictions of sex or violence).
Wrap-up: When I opened this book, I was disappointed, because the type is pretty large, and margins on all sides of the page were generous (to put it nicely). I wondered how such an insubstantial book could be fulfilling. By the time I finished it, though, I had completely forgotten that criticism. Writing as dense as Block’s doesn’t need dozens of words to convey its message, and as emotionally gripping as these stories are, too much more of each story would have been overkill. I give it a rare 5/5*

1 comment:

  1. I love fairy tale retellings. I'll have to keep track of this title!