Hello humans! Welcome to another installment of ALL THE RETELLINGS, the blog posts where I review one of the millions of retellings that seem to have suddenly exploded onto the shelves in the last year or so. Today I’m actually reviewing a collection of retellings which caught my eye in a post about the most beautiful book covers of 2017. I was delighted to receive Tangleweed and Brine as a Christmas gift last year and I’m finally getting round to writing the review!
Dark, feminist, witchy retellings of traditional fairytales – not for the fainthearted. Written for a teen audience from one of Ireland’s leading writers for young people. Intricately illustrated with black and white line drawings.
As I say, this is a collection of retellings, billed as being ‘feminist’ which, as we all know, can either be the best thing since sliced bread or a bit of a red flag. In this case, I think for the most part I would agree that these are feminist, mostly achieved by pulling the female characters into the forefront and giving them far more characterisation, even in these short snippets of story.
For the most part, this book doesn’t descend into what I like to call ‘vague short story voice’ which is where things are said in a very flowery metaphorical way but actually aren’t as deep as the author thinks they are. There was maybe one instance where I felt this starting to happen. For the most part, this book is firmly grounded in the ‘it’s a fairytale but I still have meaning’ camp.
My personal favourite retelling was that of The Princess and the Frog which has a wonderful twist at the end and actually gave me goosebumps. I can’t say more than that without giving it away, but it was wondrous. I will admit there were some stories in this book, the origins of which, I had yet to encounter. I think that’s probably a key selling point as it might help you to discover fairytales you never knew existed until now.
The illustrations in this are gorgeous, though I was spoiled by the full-colour illustrations in Language of Thorns and Roses these black and white pictures are the perfect addition to this collection, taking it from just being a book of short stories to being something more, something to treasure and to share. I’m reminded of the big hardback book of fairytales I had as a child that I guarantee my parents have got rid of by now, this is the kind of book I’ll hold on to for a long time.
Should you read this? If you like a good fairytale and you enjoy the format of short stories then this is definitely for you. Especially if you appreciate a dark twist and a somewhat gothic flavour (far more so than the pink floral cover of this book might at first suggest).
My rating: 4/5 stars
What say you? What kind of fairytales do you enjoy? Let me know in the comments below.