Wednesday, February 20, 2019

How to Fracture a Fairy Tale by Jane Yolen Review

Title: How to Fracture a Fairy Tale
Author: Jane Yolen
Age Group: Adult
Genre: Anthology/Short Story Collection
Series: Standalone
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

                Jane Yolen is one of my favorite authors; I’ve read several of her young adult books in the past, and when I saw a new short story collection sitting on the shelf at one of my local libraries, I snatched it up, eager to take it home and read it. When I realized I couldn’t renew it anymore, I pushed it to the top of my stack and began it immediately after I was finished with The Boneless Mercies. How to Fracture a Fairy Tale is a set of fairy tale retellings, told with lyrical prose and the wry humor that is Yolen’s signature. I was utterly delighted by this collection and devoured it in less than two days. This is easily one of my favorite collections of 2018, and I will be on the lookout for more of enchanting storyteller Jane Yolen’s work!

                This collection of tales contains many different stories, all different interpretations of fairy tales, some well-known, and others, not so much. I loved the variety of the stories; there was something for everyone in this volume. Because of how many stories were in here, for clarity’s sake, I cannot review every piece. So, I will give the book an overall rating and choose a few pieces that I really enjoyed.

                Godmother Death: 5 out of 5 Stars. I really enjoyed this one! I loved the tone; it read like an original fairy tale. Finding no one else to be godmother to his child, a poor villager asks Death in disguise. But as the child grows, Death follows in his wake, indifferent to the plights of humans. But things quickly change when the godson attempts to fool one of the oldest forces on earth. Wry, darkly funny, and beautifully written, it is one of my favorite stories in the volume!

                Sun/Flight: 5 out of 5 Stars. Another favorite of the collection. I loved this hopeful, passionate retelling of one of my favorite Greek mythology stories, Icarus! Given a job in a noble’s house, he falls in love with his proprietor’s daughter, after being saved from drowning in the ocean, he is heartbroken when she moves on to a better lover. Sad, lyrical, and beautifully told, I loved this spin on a tale I thought I knew!


                Allereirauh: 5 out of 5 Stars. I loved the way that this story went back to the fairy tale Cinderella’s dark, bloody roots. Bound by a promise to his dead wife to marry someone as beautiful as she, a king goes mad and pursues his own daughter to wed. Not many people know this version of the story, and the disturbing way that Yolen ended it both had my jaw on the floor and is still lingering in my mind, two days after I finished it. Dark, vicious, with hidden teeth, I will never forget this retelling!

                Granny Rumple: 5 out of 5 Stars. I loved this spin on Rumplestiltskin, infused with Yolen’s own Jewish culture and faith. Rumplestiltskin is one of my favorite fairy tales, and I loved the way that Yolen turned it on its head so that Granny Rumple, the fairy’s widow, came out on top. A hilarious, darkly funny romp that I really enjoyed.

                Mama Gone: 4 out of 5 Stars. What’s a story full of retellings without vampire horror somewhere in the mix? I really liked this story; it was sad, fast-paced, and bittersweet. A young woman loses her mother, and because her father cannot bear to cut off her head and feet, she comes back as a vampire and soon begins terrorizing the small town, tucked up against the mountains. The narrator must try to figure out how to stop her mother’s reign of terror, even at the risk of her own life. Dark, creepy, and bittersweet, I loved Mama Gone!


                Jane Yolen is one of America’s greatest storytellers, and for good reason. She is sharp, honest, funny, witty, and lyrical, and frankly, I’ve enjoyed every bit of her work that I’ve come across. This book was a fantastic literary palate cleanser in between novels, and I loved every moment of it! The bottom line: Fanciful, sharp, dark and honest, I loved How to Fracture a Fairy Tale! Next on deck: Dry by Neal and Jarrod Shusterman!

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