Tag Archives: Fairy Tale

The Dutch House by Ann Patchett

The Dutch House by Ann Patchett Title: The Dutch House
Author: Ann Patchett
Publisher: Bloomsbury
ISBN: 978-1526618757
Genre: Literary Fiction
Pages: 352
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5 stars

The Dutch House by Ann Patchett is a novel of many wonders. It is a box of things that are seen at first glance, only to discover a secret opening, where new things emerge from. This book gives, and gives, and gives some more. As a reader, as a fan of Patchett’s works, as an ardent admirer of what she puts to paper, my experience with The Dutch House has been surreal, mixed with nostalgia, and snatches of memory of my own childhood (though not this morbid or unfortunate).

What is a novel? What should be a novel? Is there such a thing as an ideal novel? Who decides that, if there is something like that? The critic? The reader? Or all of us, trying to find answers to questions of meaning of life, hope, and love as we turn the pages of novel after novel, searching for truths unknown as we move from one work of fiction to another?

The Dutch House is a fairy-tale. It is also gothic in nature when you least expect it to be. It is also full of misery, and then surprises you with moments of hope and togetherness. It is the story of two siblings – how they lose their home, how they understand each other (or not), and how they reclaim some of their lost home.

We are introduced to Danny (the narrator), and his older sister Maeve right at the beginning of the book. Their introduction to their would-be stepmother Andrea is where the book starts, and that’s when the series of events unfold in front of the reader – travelling between the past and the present of the novel.

The fairy-tale element runs strong, with a fair share of the Gothic that adds to the strong plot. Not to forget the way Patchett builds on the characters – from the housekeepers to the people that enter and exit from the siblings’ lives. Each character and each plot point is thought of to the last minute detail and maybe therefore this novel is as close to being perfect or it already is in more than one way.

What I found most interesting was the use of narration – by using the first-person narrator technique in a novel where time is of most importance, we see events unfold through two perspectives – the younger Danny and the older Danny. A doppelgänger effect, adding another layer to the complexity of the book.

The Dutch House is deceptively simple. It is a book that seems so easy to read on the surface, and it is. However, it is in joining the dots that are far and wide that adds to the reading experience. It is for this reason and more that Patchett is one of my top 10 favourite writers and will always be. She makes you feel, she makes you internalise how you think and feel as you read her books, and more than anything else she reminds you that being humane is the heart of it all.

365 Short Stories: Day 2: The Snow Child by Angela Carter

the-bloody-chamber-and-other-stories-by-angela-carter

Today’s story was “The Snow Child” by Angela Carter. Taken from the collection “The Bloody Chamber and Other stories”, this is a retelling of “Snow White” and explores aspects of male power, desire and horror.

I cannot begin to tell you how deeply disturbed I was on reading it, but the craft of Ms. Carter is something else. In fewer than 500 words she manages to make you feel the eroticism of the Count, the envy of the Countess and the innocence of the Snow Child which cannot last for long.

There is the element of surprise, shock and horror – all blend in beautifully in today’s story. A must read, if you ask me.

Here is the link to it: https://biblioklept.org/2013/06/21/the-snow-child-angela-carter/

The Sleeper and the Spindle by Neil Gaiman and Chris Riddell

The Sleeper and the Spindle by Neil Gaiman Title: The Sleeper and the Spindle
Author: Neil Gaiman
Illustrator: Chris Riddell
Publisher: Bloomsbury
ISBN: 9781408859643
Genre: Graphic Story
Pages: 72
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5/5

Another Neil Gaiman that I read this month and loved it as much as “Hansel and Gretel”. This one is called “The Sleeper and the Spindle”, takes on Sleeping Beauty and Snow White. This one I found better than “Hansel and Gretel”, maybe because I have loved these two fairy tales most as a child. “The Sleeper and the Spindle” is again fascinating because of the illustrations by Riddell and the tales weaved by Gaiman.

“The Sleeper and the Spindle” is a fun read. It is not a light reader but neither is it as dark as “Hansel and Gretel”. The stories are just the same with some twist here and there, but what really will make you want more as a reader are the illustrations of Chris Riddell. They are stupendous and beautifully drawn.

Neil Gaiman’s storytelling is inventive. The stories merge together and as a reader you are just fascinated by the writing style and narrative. This one is also creepy but not so much. There are a couple of minor changes but that is passable in the name of creativity. It is a dark and innovative spin that you must read and reread for the illustrations. A short read for a lazy Sunday.

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Hansel and Gretel by Neil Gaiman and Lorenzo Mattotti

Hansel and Gretel by Neil Gaiman Title: Hansel and Gretel
Author: Neil Gaiman
Illustrator: Lorenzo Mattotti
Publisher: Bloomsbury
ISBN: 9781408861981
Genre: Graphic Story
Pages: 56
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5/5

We have all read and loved “Hansel and Gretel” when we were growing up. Everything about fairy tales was fascinating and intriguing. Nothing could take away the beauty of a good fairy tale, so much so that its macabre underlined meaning was lost on us. Neil Gaiman’s “Hansel and Gretel” does not drift away from the real story at all. It stays true to it and yet there is something about this version that both your dreams and nightmares will be made of.

Hansel and Gretel by Neil Gaiman - Image 1

“Hansel and Gretel” tells the tale of a brother and sister and yet there are so many layers to it – of poverty, the parents’ role in sending the children away, the witch but obviously and the children with their intelligence and wit. What makes this edition so unique of course are the wonderful illustrations of Lorenzo Mattotti. They are dark, brooding, and melancholic to the core. They are of course wonderfully done. And while others might say that it is too dark, it is really not that dark.

Hansel and Gretel by Neil Gaiman - Image 2

The book delivers creepy fantastically. The images are in black and white, so that is another twist to it. “Hansel and Gretel” is a delight to read, even if it is just fifty-six pages long. There is something redeeming and at the same time something so unforgiving about this tale, that it will make you think over and over again. We have all heard it in our childhood, but I feel that for most stories, different versions are always welcome. They somehow change your perception as well, over time and years to come.

Hansel and Gretel by Neil Gaiman - Image 3

“Hansel and Gretel” is a work that is beautifully reproduced by Gaiman and Mattotti and a definite read for both children and adults. Also, please ensure that the children have read the earlier Grimm’s tale as well, more so for literature’s sake.

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Beautiful Darkness by Fabien Vehlmann and Kerascoet

Beautiful Darkness by Fabien Vehlmann and Kerascoet Title: Beautiful Darkness
Author: Fabien Vehlmann and Kerascoet
Publisher: Drawn & Quarterly
ISBN: 978-1770461291
Genre: Graphic Novel
Pages: 96
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 5/5

I had been waiting for the longest time to read, “Beautiful Darkness”. The minute I heard about it, I knew I would love it. It is a dark take on the fairy tale world. It is nothing like what you would expect and it is nothing like what you think it will be. It is a strange graphic novel. It is a graphic novel that shows you the way humans are, the way animals are and the way it really is. There is no happy ending. So you better be warned before you decide to read this one.

Beautiful Darkness - Image 1

“Beautiful Darkness” is about a strange kind. I am inclined to believe that it is a fairy-tale world and maybe that is what it is. It is an anti-fairy tale as the book suggests. It is the pixie land of Lord of the Flies. It is violent and head-snapping and decays at its best. The book is about Princess Aurora, her Prince, a fine setting to begin with and how all if it only starts getting bad to worse. The book begins with globs of blood, with the body of a girl – once alive, now dead and her flesh decaying (sort of depicting what is going to happen next in this strange land) and how she permanently rests there, and how the world around the body changes drastically.

Beautiful Darkness - Image 2

Vehlmann poses a lot of questions during the entire book. Who killed the girl? Why this world the way it is? Why is Aurora trying to help everyone, when everything around her is falling apart? Animals are trying to survive. Pixies are doing their bit. This tale is not for children. There is gore, a lot of it. There is darkness, which the creatures get used to. There is survival of the fittest and sometimes a whole lot of betrayal and shocks that come to fore.

Beautiful Darkness - Image 3

Beautiful Darkness - Image 4

Vehlmann explores the dark side of humanity. He gets into the skin of it and exposes it, for all to see. The maggot eating, the haphazard cruelty, the cannibalism, and more are for the reader. Like I said, you were warned. At the same time, don’t forget to go through the lovely illustrations.

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