Yearning for Wonderland
There’s a dark, twisted underbelly to fairytales that modern parents generally do not acknowledge.
Early fairytales were often moralizing, cautionary tales with very real messages: do not walk into the woods alone, do not always trust the honeyed words of strangers, not every fair face is your friend.
In the original tale, the Little Mermaid feels like she is walking on swords when she uses her legs and dies in the end of a broken heart, returning to the sea as foam.
Our contemporary, sanitized and Disneyfied stories are pastel-colored and always have a happy ending. While there are dark moments (notably Maleficent in Sleeping Beauty terrorized me), we are comforted and secure in the knowledge that our protagonist will succeed in their quest, often accompanied by crooning crabs.
Failure, ruin and despair don’t have much play in modern fairytales, except in books like Lies, Knives and Girls in Red Dresses by Ron Koertge (illustrations by Andrea Deszo).
“Do you want to sleep? Find another storyteller. Do you want to think about the world in a new way?
Come closer. Closer, please. I want to whisper in your ear.”
Even the cover promises dark dreams: a lascivious red tongued wolf threatening to gobble a girl in a red dress.
These are true retellings. Do not look here for many happy endings. At best, his characters end up with their expected version of happiness, which isn’t so permanent after all. At worst, maiming, suffering and beautiful death.
If you enjoy the original Grimm Brothers stories, if you like your tales with a razor’s edge, Lies, Knives and Girls in Red Dresses will be your cup of tea. The finely designed laser-cut illustrations from Andrea Deszo give the look of old-world woodcuts, adding a perfect punctuation to the dark-rimmed stories.
Here are twenty reimagined tales, written in free verse ranging from poetic prose to rhymed couplets. It reads like stories rather than poetry, though, and is quite easy to slide into.
My favorite is a series of five stories on Rapunzel, from the point of view of the mother, the father, the witch, the prince and Rapunzel. It will make you rethink Happily-Ever-After.
Lies, Knives and Girls in Red Dresses is available for pre-order on Amazon. It releases July 10, 2012.
Thanks to Candlewick Press and Raquel Matos for the advance copy to review.
ADDENDUM 5/4/12: The Once Upon a Time Fan Favorite Contest has ended! The winner, with a total of an unbelievable 47 votes is Cory Eadson (@evermore_evil) for his story, “Three Simple Words.” Go read it and comment and if you’re on Twitter, say congrats to Cory!
*drumroll* HEAR YE! HEAR YE! Tis time again for that ever popular FanFav contest on Twitter. If you are not on Twitter, I hereby recommend you create a free account. Go on. I’ll wait.
Okay, now that you are on Twitter I will fill you in on this fun and fast-paced contest. All you need to participate is a free Twitter account.
This FanFav contest involves the entries of the Once Upon a Time Writing Contest (tag #ouatwriting).
First, go and read the 88 entries for the #OUATWRITING contest. Or just read your favorites. Or the authors who have the best thumbnails. Then choose your three favorite. I’ll see you in 72 hours when you are done. (Just kidding, the contest starts tomorrow, 5/2/12).
* The contest is only open on Twitter. No other form of entries will be accepted.
* Each person can vote for a maximum of three stories.
* The contest is open for 12 hours ONLY, from 8 am EST to 8 pm EST on 5/2/12. All entries included in this time will be counted. All entries outside of that will be discarded.
TO CAST A VOTE:
* People will vote by tweeting the author’s name of their favorite story, followed by tags #fanfav and #ouatwriting. Both @SJIHolliday and I will be tracking and auditing votes separately for accuracy.
TO AUTHORS, I highly recommend you canvas for votes by tweeting your links, cajoling your followers, bullying, begging and earning votes by any (legal) means necessary in order to win this most amazing prize.
(And no, you cannot vote for yourself. Sheesh)
Oh yes, this is what you were wondering about, wasn’t it? Remember that amazing contest I ran just a month or so ago: the Fairy Ring Contest?
The audiobook is a brand-new release (List: $19.99) and 2 world-transporting hours away from our grey reality.
Are you ready for some hijinks? See you at 8 AM!
The Fairy Ring Contest is finally over and, despite the fact I have lapsed into a semi-comatose state, it was easily one of the most rewarding writing experiences of my life. I met dozens of new writers and saw old friends create literary magic of their own.
I was awed by the willingness of all these creative people to donate their time, energy and brilliance to my little contest. One of these creators is Tina Ramey, an extremely talented designer.
Tina kindly donated an illustrated PDF to the winner of The Fairy Ring Twitter #FanFav contest, Ruth Long (@bullishink) and her entry “The Scourge of Clan Bethmoora”.
Tina found appropriate artwork, contacted the artist for permission and did a magnificent layout of Ruth’s story.
I was so charmed by the beauty of this work, I asked Tina pretty please for a illustration of “Violets”, my own Fairy Ring entry. She sent me this loveliness (jpeg of first page):
I loved it so much I wanted to offer her services to my writer friends. Tina has put together a page detailing her services; she has a short fiction special rate offered (see comments below) for Fairy Ring writers and fans of my blog. She can assist with all your digital publication needs, whether it be a tiny piece of flash fiction or your NaNoWriMo novella.
At only $15 for a 2 page flash fiction, you can’t afford not to have a great-looking presentation for your short fiction for your blog or portfolio site! Go see Tina and get your own pages of loveliness.
1st Place: A copy of The Fairy Ring and a 10 page edit by Anna Meade. They will have their blog link shared on the Google+ page of Candlewick Press.
2nd Place: A copy of The Fairy Ring and a 5 page edit by Anna Meade.
3rd Place: A copy of The Fairy Ring.
Kern’s excellent story was entry #54 and she linked it in, seriously, about 23 minutes before the contest closed. Not to encourage procrastination, but her masterful portrayal of childhood creepy set me back on my heels. Kern has won her own copy of The Fairy Ring too!
In his first flash fiction competition ever, Thomas Loy has sent us a piece full of nostalgia.