This short story made me smile. It’s a great start to a collection of villain-based rewritings of fairy tales. For starters, the evil wizard that is a pretty common standpoint of many fairy tales and modern retellings is not at all what you would expect. The apprentice (who I thought was going to be eaten or turned into a toad) is from the background that I was anticipating, but the actual apprentice himself wasn’t even remotely who I thought he would be.
Something about The Nutcracker has always interested me. Or at least, something about it has drawn me in from the very beginning. So to read a short story, rewritten fairy tale that features the plotline of the nutcracker completely drew me in. The fact that it was kind of dark, and incredibly fun… just made it all that much more intriguing and engaging.
I thought this was going to be very traditional-feeling. The overlooked suitor keeps on trying for the beautiful, rich bride. He gets help from an unpredictable source (in this case a river), and after completing task after task, he finally triumphs. That is until you remember that this is one of Bardugo’s fairy tales and they aren’t going to be like this at all.
I love the notes of a traditional fairy tale throughout this story. The idea of “don’t go into the woods”. Be careful of the wicked witch. A young girls’ life being turned upside down by the remarriage of her father (after the mother has passed away). But this is where many of the similarities end.
Most stories, fairy tales, really anything that I read features a pretty girl. She is gifted by grace, beauty, kindness, yadda, yadda, yadda. But not so with this reimagined fairy tale story. This is all about the ugly (and somewhat forgotten) ugly sister.
There seems to be a lot of stupid Hans’ in this collection. Or at least a patch towards the later middle that has a lot of stories that feature a dumb young man named Hans. And the recurrent theme seemed to be honesty, truth and fairness. Give to others. The typical ideas of fairy tales that I grew up with. Just with a far more twisted take and journey.
I found it almost impossible to put this damn book down. Which is a little problematic… since I have a whole heap of other productive things to do… the illustrations in this version just helped to make it ten thousand times more difficult to put down.
There’s nothing better than discovering that a loved series has a short story collection that goes along with it. And the fact that I realised this before getting too far into the series meant that I actually got to read most of this series in chronological order. Which, let me tell you, made an already amazing series amazing-er (it’s a word now…)
I’m so glad that everyone got a happy ending. And that, although the ending of Winter tied up the main plot points, there was Something Old, Something New to completely finish it off. After all, the series just had to end with a wedding, and this story did that perfectly.