Cloaked in Red

Have you ever considered the logistical flaws of the average fairy tale? Vivian Vande Velde has, in depth. This collection of stories presents alternative versions of Little Red Riding Hood,from various perspectives, such as a less than chivalrous wood-cutter, a doll brought to life but missing a heart, the wolf as merely well-meaning and misunderstood, and the Brothers Grimm in their youth sowing the seeds of their future fame (these latter two variations being my favourites in the collection)..

I must concede that I found this collection neither as strong nor as sharp nor as funny (overall) as either ‘The Rumpelstiltskin Problem’ or ‘Tales from the Brothers Grimm and the Sisters Weird’. At times, I felt slightly as though a few good ideas were supplemented with lesser ones, for the sake of filling a commission. Nonetheless, the highlights are well worth the cover price.

indexed under: Red Riding Hood
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The Rumpelstiltskin Problem

Velde begins with the premise that like a game of Chinese whispers, fairy tales have become so distorted after being passed down through the ages that points of logic have been lost.  Velde takes each of the illogical presumptions from the Rumpelstiltskin tale (e.g. why would anybody be stupid enough to say their daughter could spin straw into gold, and perhaps more penetratingly, why would anybody choose to believe such a supposition to be true) and re-writes the story, putting some common sense back in.

This book contains 6 variations of the Rumpelstiltskin story.  Some of them are better than others, but if you appreciate Terry Pratchett’s sense of humour, you will ‘get’ these stories, too.  Although aimed at children, these stories would sit happily within the pages of Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling fairy tale collections for adults.

indexed under: Rumpelstiltskin
please add comment to Character Index to expand/amend


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