Category: Fairy Tales

Dec 17

Wind Blows Cold When I Think of Winter (Winter by Marissa Meyer)

Fairy Tales 6

Howdy Bookworms,
I don’t know what my problem is, but every single solitary time I think about the final installment of The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer, I get Tori Amos stuck in my head. I can’t complain because “Winter” by Tori Amos is one of the most beautiful songs of all time, but it has absolutely nothing to do with the spacey robot-tastic fractured fairy tale epic. That’s right, kids, the final installment of The Lunar Chronicles happened and I’m here to tell you about it. Well. At least enough about it without ruining all the things. Since that’s nigh on impossible without discussing earlier books in the series, I recommend that you read Cinder (review), Scarlet (review), Cress (review), and Fairest (review) before reading this review of Winter… Or just accept my big fat SPOILER ALERT right here. Proceed at your own risk.

winterWinter is our resident Snow White. If Snow White lived on the moon and was driven half mad by her refusal to use her man brain manipulation skills, that is. She is known for her beauty which is all the more spectacular since she doesn’t go around bending everyone else’s perceptions to make them think she’s fabulous. She’s got the wickedest stepmother in all the land and she’s madly in love with her childhood pal/palace guard/highly unsuitable mate Jacin.

Luckily, she’s also got some super cool new allies in Cinder (cyborg/long lost princess), Scarlet (farmer and organic produce enthusiast), and Cress (computer programming genius/socially awkward girl recently sprung from captivity on satellite.) Are we all caught up? Oh yes, we can’t forget their various beaus, Kai (Emperor/resident Prince Charming), Wolf (genetically modified super soldier), and Thorne (impossibly handsome rogue criminal mastermind.) Will they be able to defeat Levana? Will they all achieve their various “happily ever afters”? I’m not going to tell you because of spoilers. I will, however, tell you I thought this book, though long, was a quick read, a fun romp, and a worthy end to the series so many have fallen in love with. If you’re a fan of fairy tale retellings, I highly suggest you check out The Lunar Chronicles. Now. If you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go listen to some Tori Amos and make sure the entire range of my feelings are in working order. (You know that scene in Love Actually where Emma Thompson tells Alan Rickman that Joni Mitchell taught his “cold English wife to feel”? That’s me. But with Tori Amos’s Little Earthquakes.)

Talk to me, Bookworms! Have you been reading The Lunar Chronicles? Do you have a feelings album? 

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*

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Aug 17

The Girls at the Kingfisher Club by Genevieve Valentine

Fairy Tales, Roaring 20s 5

What’s the word, Bookworms?

The word as in the secret password. To the speakeasy. We’re gonna rouge our knees and pull our stockings down and all that jazz fairy tale style! I love a good fairy tale retelling, don’t you? A few weeks back I was in the mood for a good trip into “once upon a time” and I came across The Girls at the Kingfisher Club by Genevieve Valentine.

thegirlsatthekingfisherclubThe Girls at the Kingfisher Club takes the classic tale The Twelve Dancing Princesses and injects an infectious dose of 1920s flair. Truth be told, I wasn’t familiar with The Twelve Dancing Princesses before I read this book, so if you live under that rock with me, I’ll paraphrase. Once upon a time there were twelve princesses sequestered in a castle. They seem to live a sheltered life but every morning their dancing shoes are worn through as they secretly sneak out to dance every night. Move that scenario to New York City in the 1920s and you’ve got The Girls at the Kingfisher Club. The twelve Hamilton girls live their lives in the captivity of a brownstone. Their tyrannical father keeps them at home because he’s a big jerk and he’s ashamed that he has twelve daughters and no sons. Did I mention he’s a big jerk?

Jo and her sisters have a single rebellion in that they sneak out to speakeasies and dance the nights away. Foxtrots, waltzes, and Charlestons, these gals know how to cut a rug. This wildly entertaining novel seamlessly blends fairy tale magic with historical fiction. I absolutely adored the 1920s fun and the rebellious “princesses.” If you’re in the mood for a fairy tale retelling OR a jaunt that’s the cat’s pajamas, pick up a copy of The Girls at the Kingfisher Club

Talk to me Bookworms! Is there a fairy tale that you feel like you missed somewhere along the way? 

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*

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Aug 04

Fairy Tale Retellings: A Top Ten Tuesday List

Fairy Tales, Top Ten Tuesday 12

Happy Tuesday, Bookworms!

There are very few things I love more than a good list. I’m extra super excited today as the folks at The Broke and the Bookish have asked us to list our favorite fairy tale retellings. Buckle up your “once upon a times,” bookworms, we’re heading toward a “happily ever after.” It’s TOP TEN TUESDAY TIME!

fairytaleretellings

1. The Girls at the Kingfisher Club by Genevieve Valentine: I just finished this last week and what fun! It takes the classic The Twelve Dancing Princesses and places it in 1920s New York City. I wasn’t super familiar with The Twelve Dancing Princesses as it managed to escape my childhood collection of books, Disney movies, and Faerie Tale Theatre episodes. I think that made The Girls at the Kingfisher Club an extra fun experience for me.

2. The Bloody Chamber: And Other Stories by Angela Carter: This book is a fabulous collection of short stories based on fairy tales with a feminist twist. I highly recommend it for those of you craving empowered heroines.

3. Cinder by Marissa Meyer (review): I couldn’t possibly make this list without including The Lunar Chronicles. Cyborg Cinderella is simply too much fun to be missed!

4. Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister by Gregory Maguire: From the dude who gave the Wicked Witch of the West some depth, the “ugly” stepsisters are finally getting to tell their side of the story. It had some unexpected twists I was rather fond of. A great departure from your standard Cinderella

5. Scarlet by Marissa Meyer (review): Little Red Riding Hood is one of my favorite fairy tales ever. Girl had style, you know? That cape! Marissa Meyer’s crazy Lunar Chronicles continue with Scarlet, driven from the obscurity of her farm in the French countryside and into the arms of the big bad wolf. Rawr.

once upon a time

6. Cress by Marissa Meyer (review): Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair! From your satellite where you’ve been imprisoned doing computer things. Muahahahaha! This series is so darn fun. The Lunar Chronicles, FTW! Unfortunately, I haven’t yet tackled the latest installment on the series, but don’t worry. I will get there!

7. Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth (review): Historical fiction mixed with another retelling of Rapunzel? A winning combination. I love when authors dig down into a fairy tale’s origin story. Delicious.

8. While Beauty Slept by Elizabeth Blackwell (review): Sleeping Beauty, represent! Another historical fiction meets fairy tale. I was kind of hard on this book when I initially reviewed it because I have such low tolerance for insta-love, but you sort of have to expect such things in fairy tales, right?

9. Mirror Mirror by Gregory Maguire (review): In this retelling of Snow White, Gregory Maguire not only delved into historical fiction, but he also used an ACTUAL historical figure in the novel. Though I think he was probably pretty unfair to Lucrezia Borgia, it was a rather innovative interweaving of real happily ever afterhistory, magic, and general craziness.

10. Once Upon a Crime by PJ Brackston (review): Ever wondered what happened to Hansel and Gretel after they escaped the witch in the gingerbread house? Well. Gretel is a private detective solving fairy tale crimes, naturally. Hansel is kind of a drunk, but a lovable one. You can’t expect to be imprisoned and threatened with being eaten and come out of it without some psychological damage.

Talk to me, Bookworms! What are some of your favorite Fairy Tales? And do any of y’all have a recommendation for a fractured or historical fiction or generally fun version of Beauty and the Beast? I’ve got a hankering for MORE FAIRY TALES!

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*

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Jul 14

MOAR Audio Book Mini Reviews

Audio Books, Contemporary Fiction, Fairy Tales, Fantasy 16

Howdy Howdy Bookworms!

I’ve been reading with both my eyes and my ears this summer. Reading with your ears is totally a thing that counts. I REFUSE to accept that audio books don’t count as reading. Poppycock! Of course, not every book I read (with eyes or ears) is something I feel like writing a whole review about, so today we’re taking audio books in bite sized pieces. Om nom nom!

audiominireviews

 

1. I Still Dream About You by Fannie Flagg- I normally adore Fannie Flagg, but I’ve got mixed feelings about this book. The main character spends a good portion of the novel plotting out her suicide only to continually put it off to tie up loose ends in the land of the living. The story was cute, I guess, but I worry that it was a little too flippant with some really heavy issues.

2. The Magician’s Land by Lev Grossman- Well thank heaven they finally explored the niffin situation! That has been bothering me since The Magicians (review). I thought this final installment of the series tied things up rather nicely, without being too neat about it. I’m still worried about Lev Grossman’s fox fixation, though. Dude. For real.

3. Mirror Mirror by Gregory Maguire- You know how when you read original fairy tales they’re way creepier than you remember the Disney-fied versions being? Multiply that factor by 5 when Gregory Maguire gets his mits on Snow White, and you’ll have Mirror Mirror. In Maguire’s version of events, historical figure Lucrezia Borgia is cast in the role of the wicked queen with some gratuitous sexualization thrown in for good measure. I can’t help but think poor Lucrezia’s legacy has been getting the Cleopatra treatment for far too long. Stacy Schiff, will you rectify this for me please? (Cleopatra: A Life by Stacy Schiff was most enlightening! Anybody have a recommendation for a good Lucrezia Borgia biography?)

Talk to me, Bookworms! What have y’all been reading lately? Eye reading and ear reading both count here!

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*

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Jul 09

Once Upon a Crime by PJ Brackston

Crime, Fairy Tales 8

Hello Bookworms!

I don’t read a ton of crime fiction, so if you’re interested in getting me to read a crime novel, lead with the fact that Gretel (yes, that Gretel) is your detective. The pitch I received for PJ Brackston’s new novel Once Upon a Crime: A Brothers Grimm Mystery was just too whimsical and fun to refuse. *I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for review consideration. I promise that my nose will have no reason to grow after writing this review. Fairy tale humor, folks. You should probably get used to it.*

onceuponacrimeSet in 18th Century Bavaria, Gretel of brother and breadcrumb and gingerbread house fame has grown up to become a detective. Her hapless brother Hans (I can only assume he thought “Hansel” was too juvenile a moniker? Or perhaps that was explained in the first book? Technically this is a prequel though, so I shouldn’t be behind. Must be a Bavarian thing.) still lives with his sister. Gretel tolerates him and his drunken tomfoolery because he’s her brother and she loves him… And he’s a good cook. Who turns down a personal chef? I mean, really.

Gretel’s latest case is an exercise in fairy tale craziness. From chasing down a crazy cat lady’s beloved pets to romancing a troll, Gretel has her work cut out for her. One minute she’s trying to help a girl out of a jam, the next she’s facing (completely unfounded) murder charges. Can’t a girl get a spa treatment without running across a corpse?! Gretel is a refreshing heroine, unapologetic about her plus sized stature and her love for fine food, high fashion, and designer shoes. I’m pretty sensitive toward unsympathetic or bombastic descriptions of large people in books, and there were a couple of times I was worried this book was headed in that direction. In the end, though, Gretel’s confidence and the way she OWNED IT made all the difference. No snacking guilt for this girl. She’ll rock those Timmy Chews (I know, right?!) from here to Never-Never Land. Gretel was downright fierce. This novel is a light read that’s big on humor and fractured fairy tale hijinks. It’s got an irresistible Shrek vibe about it, so if you’re in the mood for that sort of thing, Once Upon a Crime: A Brothers Grimm Mystery can’t be beat.

Talk to me Bookworms! If you could turn a fairy tale character into a detective, who would you choose? 

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*

 

 

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May 21

Stardust by Neil Gaiman

Audio Books, Fairy Tales, Fantasy, Mythology 15

Dearest Bookworms,

Have you ever heard people claim they’d love to have Morgan Freeman narrate their lives? Morgan Freeman is a whole lot of wonderful, I’ll grant you (March of the Penguins, holla!) However. I’m convinced people find the decision to nominate Morgan Freeman as their life’s narrator such a simple one is because they’ve yet to listen to Neil Gaiman read one of his books aloud. Thanks to Scribd, I’ve been audio-booking more than ever and one of my first selections was Stardust by the man himself. (Neil Gaiman, not Morgan Freeman. I don’t know if Morgan Freeman writes books. He might, he’s probably good at everything and spends his free time teaching poverty stricken children how to play the violin, but I digress…)

stardustStardust is a whimsical fairy tale following a young Tristran Thorne. He lives in the town of Wall, England which lies on the border between this world and Faerie. Tristran spends his time going about his daily life all Victorian style and pining for the town beauty, Victoria Forester. One evening Tristran and Victoria see a shooting star. Victoria tells Tristran she will marry him if he retrieves the star for her, and so he sets out on a quest to find it. Unbeknownst to Tristran, his visit to Faerie will be something of a homecoming, as he’s the product of a tryst between his mortal father and an enslaved faerie princess. His adventures beyond the wall include battling witches, elf lords, curses, magic, and mayhem of the best kind.

I have heard tell that the movie version of Stardust is better than the book (blasphemy? Perhaps, but it’s been known to happen.) Clearly I need to see this movie, because the book was utterly charming with just the right amount of Gaiman-style darkness. Fans of Neil Gaiman, fairy tales, and good old fashioned quests ought to pick this up. And then probably see the movie, because it’s apparently awesome.

Talk to me, Bookworms. Have any of you seen a shooting star? Meteor shower? A plane you pretended was a shooting star just so you could make a wish? (Seriously, I cannot be the only one to have done that plane thing…)

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*

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Oct 16

Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth

Fairy Tales, Historical Fiction 26

Bookworms, Bookworms, let down your hair!

I’m eeeeeeeevil and have locked you in a tower and forced you to grow your hair to unimaginable lengths that don’t occur in nature and now I want to use it as a rope, damnit! Heck yes, y’all, I just finished reading Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth, a re-telling of Rapunzel. *I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for review consideration through NetGalley. May I be locked in a tower if this review is untrue.*

bittergreensBitter Greens begins with a note about how the folk tale Rapunzel originally surfaced in Italy but its best known published version appeared in France. What follows is Forsyth’s imagining of how the tale managed to travel. It gives a fictionalized account of the life of the French author, Charlotte-Rose de la Force as well as a creative interpretation of Rapunzel’s origin story.

Charlotte-Rose was a courtier in Louis XIV’s lavish and fickle court. After a series of scandals, Charlotte-Rose is, for all intents and purposes, disposed of in a poverty ridden convent. Out of sight, out of mind, no? Her greatest love was writing, but even that is denied to her inside the cloisters. It certainly doesn’t help anything that Charlotte-Rose was raised a Huguenot and was forced to convert to Catholicism… And then, you know, unceremoniously dumped in a convent. Bad form, Louis.

In any case, Charlotte-Rose is in a bit of a pickle, but comes to befriend Sœur Seraphina who comes to teach her the glories of gardening and shares her stories. What story do you think she starts with?! Why, a young maiden locked in a tower with a ginormous length of hair, of course!

Fairy tale retellings can be a bit hit or miss for me, but Bitter Greens was a big hit. It had all my favorite historical fiction elements; I felt like I was IN these times. And there was plague. MUAHAHAHAHA! Really though, the best part of this novel from my perspective was that the witch got a fantastically developed back story. I like my villains to have depth, and Selena Leonelli was one complex lady. If you like historical fiction, fairy tales, and interwoven storylines, Bitter Greens is your book, y’all!

Alright Bookworms, let’s talk villains! Who’s your favorite fairy tale villain? 

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission. I will NOT be using it on hair extensions, because at the moment, long hair seems incredibly over-rated.*

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Apr 24

Give Me a Head of Hair, Long, Beautiful Hair: Cress by Marissa Meyer

Fairy Tales, Young Adult Fiction 16

Hello Bookity Bookworms!

You know I dig a fractured fairy tale, right? I just finished up the latest installment of Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles by reading Cress. If you’re interested, I read and reviewed both Cinder (review) and Scarlet (review) once upon a time as well. Re-reading those posts, I don’t think they reflect how much I really enjoyed these books. I’m going to try to be better this time! Obviously, this is the third book in the series, so talking about it might be a little SPOILERY for the preceding books, and maybe a tiny bit spoilery for Cress  (but only if you can’t guess at super obvious things.) Of course, the books are all based on fairy tales, so you probably know where it’s going anyway. Still. Warning.

cressCress is a retelling of Rapunzel. Cress was born on the moon, but since the Lunars are all evil and stuff, she was sent to die when it was discovered she was a “shell” (that’s the equivalent of a Squib to you Potterheads.) Instead of being killed, Cress was raised in some creepy moon tunnels and imprisoned in a satellite when her talent for computer programming and hacking was discerned. She was stuck in the satellite (er, “tower”) and her hair grew super long. Then, you know, Cinder and Scarlet and the gang are chilling in their spaceship and decide to rescue Cress. Only, things go wrong, adventure ensues. Adventure with androids and spaceships and crashes and deserts and wicked Lunars, naturally.

I think this series is a blast- it’s a lot of fun to toy around with fairy tales and give them new life. As far as Cress goes, I liked that Meyer didn’t fixate on the whole hair thing overmuch, and used some of the elements of the Rapunzel legend that people tend to forget about. Thorne as a character reminds me a LOT of the dashing Flynn Rider (or Eugene Fitzherbert, as it were) from Disney’s Tangled. The thing is, it felt a little too borrowed maybe, because in old school Rapunzel, the handsome prince was just a plain old prince, not a bad boy gone good. That said, I still totally would have fallen for a smolder look from Thorne.

And because I’m nitpicking, Wolf’s ongoing obsession with Scarlet felt very Twilight to me— the fixation seemed a lot like the whole “imprinting” thing. Then again, wolves do have their alphas, so maybe that’s more a wolf trait than a Twilight trait? I don’t know. I’m pretty sure if it came to a wolf fight, Wolf the mutant super soldier could kick Jacob Black’s furry backside. I’m pretty stoked for the final installment, because it’s based on Snow White , and I’m anticipating the mother of all happily ever afters!

Bookworms! I must know. Anybody else out there digging The Lunar Chronicles? Do you love a good fractured fairy tale? What’s your favorite? I’m all ears! (The better to hear you with, of course.)

*If you make a purchase through this site I will receive a small commission. It will be re-invested into books, most likely, because I have a problem.*

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Apr 14

How I Was April Fooled by The Princess Bride

Fairy Tales, Fantasy 55

Hey there, Bookworms!

I am typically a curmudgeon about books that become movies. I am often underwhelmed and find myself keeping score of what they changed to adapt the book to the screen and why Hollywood was wrong for doing it. Things were all kinds of different for me when it came to The Princess Bride. I have seen the movie about a zillion times, starting when I was a kid. I didn’t realize it was adapted from a book until waaaaay after I’d perfected my “INCONCEIVABLE!” I was curious, though, so I decided I’d tackle the book version, formally titled The Princess Bride: An Illustrated Edition of S. Morgenstern’s Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure by William Goldman. (It’s quite a mouthful.)

I’ve mentioned that I’m pretty gullible, right? If Goldman had been playing an April Fool’s prank with this book, I’d totally have fallen for it. Goldman begins the book by saying that he isn’t writing the story, but abridging a classic work of literature his father read to him while he was recovering from pneumonia as a child. He claimed his father was a Florinese immigrant, that the tales within the book were at least partially true (if not a bit embellished, as such tales often are), and that he was merely paraphrasing another’s work. I THOUGHT that Florin and Guilder sounded like fake countries, but my knowledge of Europe is not infallible. They could very well have been countries at one point once upon a time and then been swallowed up. I mean, Poland lost its “I’m a country” status plenty of times throughout history, the poor dear.

Despite my innate gullibility, it wasn’t long before my BS meter started pinging, and I turned to Wikipedia. Not only is there no original work by S. Morgenstern, there’s no Florin or Guilder (they sound familiar because they used to be currency.) Heck, even the wife and son Goldman claims to have are fictional. The Princess Bride was actually inspired by stories Goldman used to tell his daughters, and he masterminded the whole thing, fake countries and all. Well played, Goldman.

I deserve the mocking. (Source)

I deserve the mocking. (Source)

After I stopped feeling like a nincompoop, I settled in to enjoy the story. The bulk of the action plays out very similarly to the movie- it’s a pretty faithful adaptation. The Grandfather and Fred Savage bits are indeed quite different, but it still totally works. Fabulous example of book to movie done right, if you ask me. If you haven’t seen The Princess Bride or read the book, you should probably stop what you’re doing right now and go do one or the other. How does one go through life without these critical cultural references? I mean, there’s FEZZIK, the coolest soft-hearted giant ever! (The coolest soft-hearted half-giant is, of course, Hagrid.) Evil Humperdink and the 6 fingered Count Rugen. Miracle friggin MAX! Westley and Buttercup and their grand romance… “As you wish…” Siiiiigh. And of course, there’s this:

inigomontoya

REVENGE! (source)

Just read it. Or watch it. Okay? If you need MORE reasons, check out Trish from Love, Laughter, and a Touch of Insanity and her fabulous post (and more GIF-y goodness) 10 Life Lessons from The Princess Bride.

I know a ton of you Bookworms have seen and/or read The Princess Bride. Tell me your favorite moments! 

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission. You would NOT be committing a blunder to do so, though I don’t recommend getting into a land war in Asia.*

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Feb 20

While Beauty Slept by Elizabeth Blackwell

Coming of Age, Fairy Tales, Friendship 12

Dearest Bookworms,

Once upon a time, a publisher emailed me with an offer to review a fractured fairy tale. While Beauty Slept
by Elizabeth Blackwell tells a less Disney-fied version of the classic Sleeping Beauty tale. *I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I was threatened with zero poisoned spinning wheels.*

while beauty slept

The story begins with a very old Elise telling the story of her life to her great-granddaughter. Elise started her life being raised on a farm in an unspecified medieval-ish time. Her upbringing is poverty stricken- she’s no stranger to hunger… Or to sharing her bed with younger siblings. One day, THE POX attacks. Blackwell doesn’t specify what type of pox it is, so I googled… I think it’s supposed to be smallpox, but I’m not entirely sure if smallpox can theoretically spread from cows to pigs to humans… (Mira Grant and her scientific explanations have RUINED me for other authors’ fictional plagues… Vague poxes will no longer suffice!)

Anyway. The plague wipes out most of Elise’s family and at 14, she takes a position as a servant in the local castle. That’s what you do, if you’re lucky. At least you get fed at regular intervals. If you’re unlucky, you get stuck hanging out with poxy pigs, and nobody’s got time for that! While at court, Elise rises quickly. She’s soon attending to the queen and later the princess, all under the shadow of some seriously bad blood between the royal family and the king’s wicked, wicked aunt, Millicent.

I enjoyed the grittier version of Sleeping Beauty. I love a good plague, and I like when fairy tale re-tellings don’t rely exclusively on a Prince Charming. Elise, Queen Lenore, and Millicent are no shrinking violets. Strong female characters rock. What didn’t rock quite so much for me was the abundance of insta-love. I know it’s a fairy tale, but sheesh. Love at first sight right and left. sleepingbeauty

I also could have done without the really heavy handed foreshadowing. It’s hard to be surprised by a turn of events or a personality change in a critical character when you’re continuously smacked over the head with phrases like, “if only I’d known what she would become” or “it was the last time they would be happy,” etc. I wanted to shake old lady Elise and tell her to get on with the story already! I think you have to be a broody Victorian to make that sort of thing work.

Overall, this book was alright for me. Nothing to prick my finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel over, but a pleasant enough way to pass the time. If fairy tales are your thing, I recommend taking a trip down fairy tale lane with While Beauty Slept

Tell me, Bookworms. What’s your favorite fairy tale?

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*

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