Posted in Books and Authors, Fairytales/Myths

“Fairest” by Marissa Meyer

22489107Oh. My. Goodness! I love my library. Once more they’ve come through for me and I got Fairest by Marissa Meyer almost as soon as the book was released. Unbeknownst to me, I put the audiobook on hold instead of the actual book. Or maybe I knew it when I did it but I forgot by the time it came. I listened to Cress (3rd book of her Lunar Chronicles series) on audiobook and was blown away. My ears were probably just this side of bleeding but I seriously didn’t want to stop.

Luckily Fairest can’t hold a candle to Cress page-wise so I didn’t get close to the bleeding point this time, but I did lose some sleep because, like the rest of Meyer’s books, I didn’t want to stop.

Fairest tells evil Queen Levana’s story. How does she become so evil? Why is she the way she is?

Oh yes, and if you aren’t familiar with The Lunar Chronicles, they’re a series of fairytale retellings by Marissa Meyer. Very original and VERY good. Cinder is Cinderella; Scarlet is Little Red Riding Hood; Cress is Rapunzel; Fairest is about the evil queen/stepmother in Snow White; Winter is Snow White.

Meyer’s explanation isn’t the most original idea she’s ever had – Levana was tormented her whole life – but the details of the torment are ingenuous! Really, I’d say “torture” comes closer than “torment” sometimes but it’s a bit melodramatic and it doesn’t cover all the details so we’ll stick with the less theatrical.

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Poor Levana. I feel bad for her, I really do. Except I think she would’ve grown up to be a b*tch anyway because that seems to be the general Lunar culture – psychos. Not all of them, of course, but morality seems to be a bit low on their radar in general. But I still feel bad for what she went through. Perhaps if she had been raised in a more loving or normal environment, she wouldn’t have turned out as bad as she did.

But then we wouldn’t have had 5 books and some short stories to go along with them so I guess it’s all right that Levana’s an insane psycho.

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Maybe the original Lunar colony was populated by the criminals of the world like Australia was in the beginning with Britain’s criminals. Or perhaps the colony started off as an asylum for the dangerously insane. Instead of keeping the insane psychos in wards here on Earth, they were sent to the moon because it was a safe distance away.

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Anyway, it was an AWESOME book and Rebecca Soler who reads the series is beyond belief good. She poured so much emotion into what she read that it was as if I was watching a play or a movie going on in my head. It was a gripping performance.

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Posted in Books and Authors, Fairytales/Myths

“Cruel Beauty” by Rosamund Hodge

image I recently finished reading Cruel Beauty, Rosamund Hodge’s debut novel. It’s a young adult fantasy combining a retelling of the fairytale Beauty and the Beast and Greek mythology.

Her mission was to kill him. Her destiny was to love him.

Since birth, Nyx has ben betrothed to the evil ruler of her kingdom – all because of a reckless her bargain her father struck. And since birth, she has been training to kill him.

Betrayed by her family yet bound to obey, Nyx rails against her fate. Still, on her seventeenth birthday, she abandons everything she’s ever known to marry the all powerful, immortal Ignifex. Her plan? Seduce him, disarm him, and break the nine-hundred-year-old curse he put on her people.

But Ignifex is not what Nyx expected. The strangely charming lord beguiles her, and his castle – a shifting maze of magical rooms – enthralls her. As Nyx searches for a way to free her homeland by uncovering Ignifex’s secrets, she finds herself unwillingly drawn to him. But even if she can bring herself to love her sworn enemy, how can she refuse her duty to kill him?

As I was searching for agents to query, I found Hannah Bowman from Liza Dawson Literary Agency. In an attempt to better understand what projects Bowman takes on, I looked through her client list where I found Rosamund Hodge’s name along with her novel Cruel Beauty.

I was immediately interested when I saw that it was a retelling of one of my favorite fairytales. When I got it home from the library I saw that there was an unexpected bonus – Hodge wove Greek mythology into the story! While I read, another bonus popped up – it was a dark fantasy!

My three favorite things to read: fairytales, Greek mythology, and horror.

Luckily the writing and the story idea didn’t disappoint. I read it in 2 days. It was an easy read that kept my attention so that I didn’t want to stop even to go to bed. The growing romance and changing hearts of the characters was believable and well-drawn. It was fun to have a heroine who had so much bitterness and hate in her heart. Someone who wasn’t pure.

Cruel Beauty sparked my imagination. I have to admit that a part of me is disappointed that I missed the opportunity to write   something like this, but I’m glad it’s been written and published because now I at least I can read it. It raises questions in my head about my own writing. Not bad questions, just things to consider.

imageRosamund Hodge also has an e-novella available – Gilded Ashes. It’s a retelling of Cinderella’s story and is set in the same world as Cruel Beauty.

imageComing out in the Spring of 2015 is her 2nd book, Crimson Bound. It combines 2 fairytales: Little Red Riding Hood and Girl With No Hands. It’s not often I hear about another person who’s heard of that 2nd fairytale. I’ll have to wait until Spring to see how she pulls it off. I’m really looking forward to it and would love to add Cruel Beauty to my book collection in the meantime.

Do you have any fairytale retellings to suggest?

Posted in Fairytales/Myths

My Favorite Fairytales: Beauty and the Beast

One of my favorite fairytales of all time is Beauty and the Beast. I’ve read various tellings of the story all my life and have liked them all, some more than others. I think my favorite version might be Beauty by Robin McKinley. The cover is also quite pretty.

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The basic story is pretty simple:

Beautiful girl’s family falls into poverty. After hearing news that their fortunes may have improved, the father travels back to the city but is given bad news. On his journey back to his family, he gets lost and seeks shelter at a great castle.

When he’s refreshed he leaves but picks a rose for his daughter (her favorite flower) and the lord of the castle – the Beast – demands his life in exchange for the theft. Upon hearing the father’s story, the Beast allows him to go home to say goodbye to his daughters. He must return in a few days for his punishment or one of his daughters must come in his place.

Beauty, the daughter the rose was intended for, goes back to the Beast’s castle in her father’s place. Instead of dying, however, she’s treated like a princess. Every night the Beast visits her while she eats dinner and asks if she will marry him. She continually denies him, but grows friendly toward him after awhile.

She soon becomes homesick and is allowed to look upon her father through the means of a magic mirror. She sees he’s very sick and begs to return to him to nurse him back to health. The Beast agrees but makes her promise to return to him in a week’s time or he will die.

Beauty’s reunion is a happy one and she waits until the last minute to return to the Beast. When she sees him she believes him to be dead and grieves. It isn’t until that moment that she realizes she loves him and tells him so.

The Beast disappears and in his place is a handsome prince. He explains that he was under a terrible spell. He would stay a hideous beast until he could gain the love of a beautiful woman. Beauty’s love for him broke the spell and they lived happily ever after.

What version of Beauty and the Beast do you like the most?

Posted in Fairytales/Myths

The Story of Arachne

While endeavoring to write something resembling maggot-infested feces (yeah, I’m that thrilled with what I’ve written so far on NT2), I decided to share some of the Greek myths I’m using or might be using in my ms.

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Today’s tale is a short version of Arachne.

The goddess Pallas Athena taught Arachne to weave but the young woman became so skilled in the art that she left the goddess. People came from across the land to view her work and watch her on the loom. Her pictures were the most beautiful and her movements the most wondrous to see. They praised her and asked how she had learned this craft.

Instead of naming Athena as her teacher, Arachne claimed that she had been born with the skill and had taught herself. The credit was hers and she basked in her glory and ego. Athena was displeased with this but did nothing until Arachne boasted that she was better even than the goddess herself!

Furious, Athena appeared before the crowd as an old woman and warned Arachne to be humble and admit the truth, but the foolish maiden’s pride was beyond her control. She cried out a challenge that Athena come and weave alongside her. Then everyone would see which of them was the best.

Athena threw off her disguise and accepted the challenge. The two set their looms up where they were and began to weave. Athena wove images of mortals’ hubris and the punishments for presuming to be the equal of gods. It was intended as a message to Arachne but the mortal did not heed it.

Arachne wove images of various gods deceiving and raping or seducing young women.

When the two were done, Athena looked upon her former pupil’s work and could find no fault with it. Incensed at the perfection of the work and the audacity of the subject Arachne had chosen, she ripped the weaving apart and then beat the mortal over the head with the shuttle.

In her despair, Arachne hung herself.

But before she died, Athena took pity on her former pupil and transformed her into a spider. Arachne continued to weave but from then on her wool was spider silk and her beautiful pictures were webs.

There are a couple lessons here. What lesson would you take from this story?