Tag Archives: fairy tale

Elizabethan England with a Magical Twist

Book Stats: Snow White and Rose Red

Author: Patricia Wrede

Age group: 15-17

Best place to buy: BarnesandNoble.com ($8.09)

Length: 288

Rating: 8 out of 10

Duh Duh Da! I read book number 4. Actually I finished it last week but this week is the week before finals, when all the big projects are due. I’ve been focusing on that, but now it’s crunch time because I still need to have 20 posts by next Thursday. Sorry, but next time we will be back to books I read before this semester until after finals when I will have time to read again. We’ll get through this together.

Summary: Snow White and Rose Red, written by Patricia Wrede, is another classic fairy-tale retold in an imaginative way. The widow and her two daughters live outside their village at the edge of the woods. The widow is an herbalist and she uses her daughters, Blanche and Rosamunde to gather the herbs.

Within the woods lies the border of Fairy, the magical world where fairies dwell.  The Fairy Queen’s two sons, John and Hugh, are half mortal but John feels more connection with the mortal world than Hugh. The daughters gather some herbs from Fairy for their special properties.

Two local wizards use All Hallows Eve to conduct a spell on fairy, affecting one of the fairy brothers. The other brother searches desperately for a cure for the spell that turned his brother into a bear and stole his fairy powers.

The Bear, forgetting his new form, comes to the door of the widow’s cabin. With their experience with Fairy, the widow and her daughters allow the strangely intelligent bear to spend the evenings in their home, warm while winter swarms outside.

The Widow reveals that she knows some witchcraft, the benevolent kind, spurring her and her daughters to work to find a cure for the bear themselves. They unknowingly pit themselves against the wizards who cast the original spell.

Finding a cure turns out to be too much for this humble witch and her daughters. They must face failure, unexpected collaborations and even fairy interference. Will they ever help the bear return to his original form and find their way to the fairy-tale ending? You will have to read it to find out.

Reasons for the Rating: This book was a good escape for me from homework into a land of fantasy. It was interesting to have this tale set in Elizabethan England, a time that usually reminds me of Shakespeare. Patricia Wrede definitely did her homework about the time period, even using period dialog.

The story is imaginative and detailed, down to the herbs used for the spells. That may be a hindrance in some ways, making the plot move slowly and taking more time to read. Once I edited a manuscript with a scene that included desert snakes in a pit. Little detail was given, yet when I verified the facts, the writer was right on. In other words, writers should do the research but they don’t have to share every little detail with the reader.

Outside of that flaw I enjoyed the book. I tend to enjoy Patricia Wrede and her writing style. We all go overboard sometimes, right? One small problem does not ruin a book. Besides, I might just be a bit impatient.

Recommendation: I would recommend this book to both young adult readers and even some older ones. I think everyone can enjoy a good fairy tale once and a while. So, go out, read a fairy tale, escape the world, and enjoy a happy ending. Maybe it will melt some of the stress away.

“You shall be Ordinary”

I think we shall try (as much as possible) to review/suggest two books a week. They mostly will be a long time favorites of mine that I have read more than once. My current schedule is rather packed with school reading so I don’t have time for much else.

Book Stats: The Ordinary Princess

Author: M.M. Kaye

Age Group: 9-14

Where to buy: Amazon.com

Length: 112 pages

Rating: 8 out of 10

“You shall be Ordinary”

The words jump off the back cover of my 1986 version of The Ordinary Princess by M.M. Kaye.

Even as a nine year old girl those words gripped me from look one.

I had heard the classic fairy tales, the ones with the helpless female and heroic prince, and was dissatisfied with how much the princess had to rely on others for help. For the first time in my life the woman was more than just a helpless damsel trapped in a tower, Princess Amy took life into her own hands.

At her christening Princess Amethyst Alexandra Augusta Araminta Adelaide Aurelia Anne, the seventh perfect princess in a line of perfect princesses, was “cursed” by a powerful fairy to be ordinary. From that day on she was nothing like her six blonde sisters and when the time came no one would marry her.

Her parents in their desperation to marry off their final daughter decide to hire a dragon to attract princes to win her hand.

When Amy hears this plan she finally does what she has wished to do for years, she runs away. A series of forest adventures, followed by dark days in a castle kitchen lead to the traditional happy ending.

As someone new to the genre of girl-power fantasy this book is a great introduction to a nontraditional fairy tale that maintains the childlike innocence of a Disney retelling.

For those of you looking for a fun easy read or a great recommendation for a growing girl look no further.

Personally this book will always be a classic on my bookcase, something I hope to one day read with my daughter as I teach her about the joy of reading.