Posts Tagged ‘fairytale’

The Tiny Wife – Andrew Kaufman

Posted in Contemporary Fiction on April 19th, 2012 by admin – 5 Comments

The Tiny Wife

ISBN: 978-0-00-742925-7
Size: 111x178mm
Format: Hardback
Imprint: The Friday Project
Division: HarperPress

My Rating – 4 stars

The Tiny Wife is a thing of beauty, 80 pages of carefully wrought words enhanced by sharp, silhouette illustrations.  Not a single word is wasted in this contemporary fable with echoes of Hans Christian Anderson, the Brothers Grimm and even a little pinch of Italo Calvino.

Our story opens in contemporary Toronto where a thief carries out a bank robbery with a difference – he asks each customer for the object which is of most sentimental value  to them.  It transpires that they have also handed over part of their soul and each victim experiences rather unpleasant side-effects.  The narrator’s wife, Stacey, starts shrinking with the worry that she will disappear forever, one woman’s husband turns into a snowman, a lion tattoo on a woman’s ankle comes to life, another woman turns into candy.

Somehow, these characters who seem to have stepped straight out of a travelling sideshow or Roald Dahl’s Tales of the Unexpected, retain a whimsical, magical air which lifts them out of the truly macabre.   Each reader will take something different from this box of delights, even a moral lesson not to take others for granted if you wish to be educated!  A quirky, idiosyncratic read for those who like a little touch of magic in their everyday lives.

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Review – Ruby’s Spoon by Anna Lawrence Pietroni

Posted in Literary Fiction on October 2nd, 2010 by admin – 9 Comments

In this, the author’s debut novel, mermaids, myths and mystery are the order of the day.  It is set in 1930s England, in the small town of Cradle Cross in the heart of the Black Country in the Midlands.  Surrounded by canals, brimming over with superstition, Cradle Cross is like a prison for our narrator, 12 year old Ruby Abel Taylor.  Ruby dreams of new horizons but her crabbed grandmother Annie has forbidden her to go near water after losing her husband and child to the sea so she’s fated to lead a stifled, claustraphobic existence until one day Isa Fly comes to town.  Isa, half-blind with a mane of white hair, becomes a scapegoat when things start to go wrong in the community – the workers at the local button factory are laid off and valued items start to go missing.  Soon rumours of witchcraft are rife.

The author certainly knows this area like the back of her hand and the inclusion of Black Country dialect enhances the otherworldliness and the seclusion of this community which has lost so many of its menfolk during the war.  Indeed the principal characters are all female and all strong-willed and determined, including the idealistic Ruby, the grief-stricken widows of the Ruth and Naomi Society, the worldly-wise Oxbridge graduate Truda Blick, the sinister black clad woman known as Blackbird who harbours a grudge against the charismatic Isa Fly.

On the one hand there is a lot going on in this novel and it took me until about a third in before I settled into it.    There is no doubt that this is a well written, atmospheric novel with fairytale elements but I can’t help thinking that a bit of judicious pruning and restraint would have created a sharper, homogeneous read.  This debut shows a lot of promise and I look forward to reading more from Anna Lawrence Pietroni.

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Review – Ondine – Ebony McKenna

Posted in YA Fiction on March 6th, 2010 by admin – 1 Comment

Format: Paperback 336 pages


Egmont Books Ltd




Not your typical boy meets girl story but rather, girl meets enchanted ferret, falls in love and strives to break the spell which has transformed him from handsome young man into hirsute pet.

Ondine de Groot, our 15 year old heroine, runs away from Psychic Summer Camp accompanied by her new acquaintance, Shambles, the ferret. Ondine returns home to her family and discovers en route that Shambles can speak albeit with a strong Scottish accent and,at times, incomprehensible dialect (Fear not, there are ample footnotes which provide translation).
Yes, this is quite a sweet fairy tale romance but it is very much enhanced and fortified by the inclusion of Shambles whose humour and wit is great comedy value. The footnotes also provide an air of authenticity, providing more information about Ondine’s fictional hometown Brugel and frequent comic asides.
Against this fairytale background we witness the very realistic representation of a teenage crush, family conflicts and sibling rivalry. Ondine is a clever, independent young lady who knows what she wants in life but achieves her aims without veering too far from the straight and narrow.
This is a fun, romantic, well written read which would appeal to young girls aged 12+ who enjoy intelligent and witty writing.
Thank you to Waterstones for sending me this proof for review.

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