Sunday, October 10, 2021

Beasts and Beauty: Dangerous Tales

 I saw Soman Chainani's Beasts and Beauty: Dangerous Tales at the library and was absolutely intrigued by the first lines of several of the stories.  Like "Red Riding Hood's" "On the first day of spring, the wolves eat the prettiest girl."  Or "Sleeping Beauty's" "To the prince, it was clear: demons were drinking his blood."  How can you not want to know more with lines like these???

Beasts and Beauty is a book of fairy tale retellings.  It includes twelve stories, ranging from the regulars like "Sleeping Beauty," "Beauty and the Beast," and "Snow White," to some lesser known ones like "Bluebeard."  Chainani plays with everything in these stories, moving them to different cultures, and playing with characters' sexuality.  The stories are also rather dark, feeling more in line with the originals rather than the more cleaned up modern versions.  All in all, it makes for a very interesting collection of stories.  And it's a fairly easy read - I blew through the entire book in less than a day.

I really like how a lot of the stories center on making your own way, how you can't wait for your prince to come and save you.  They also point out many of the negative (and often damaging) tropes of the originals before charting a new path.  

I think my favourite was the "Peter Pan" retelling.  It reminded me in a lot of ways of Brom's retelling which I read some years ago (although the two stories are very different).  This story was also different from the others in the collection in that it was written as a letter, while the others are written more like classic fairy tales.  

If you enjoy fairy tales and fairy tale retellings, definitely give Beasts and Beauty a try!

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