Shattered: Broken Fairy Tales is a collection of three fairy/folk tale retellings by Rabia Gale.
The difficulty in writing a retelling of a folk tale is that the core story has been pretty much told already.
The author has a few choices, they can alter the tale, invert tropes, riff off in a slightly different direction and they can alter tone and play with style and language.
As long as the reader gets something new; a perspective or a connection with the tale not previously experienced then, despite the old material we will be happy.
I think Gale has preformed brilliantly in this short collection. I think she’s achieved that balance of tweaking the tale or exploring other aspects of it. Gale gives us three very interesting tales, reimagined:
The Prince holds both her hands—once work-roughened and brown, now soft, supple and white—in a strong clasp. "Nothing will ever harm you again, my love. I vow it."
He is so serious, so sure. How she longs to believe him, believe in his love. She manages a smile. "While you are with me there is nothing to fear." Except for another woman with gold hair and blue eyes.
The other. Lily in Winter
The Most Beautiful Woman in the World is a riff off Snow White. In this tale it is the Mirror that forms the centrepiece. Like a good folk tale there is wisdom to be gained, a philosophical conundrum to examine. The Most Beautiful Woman in the World says something important about perceptions of beauty and how destructive and unrealistic misguided perceptions can be. The cost of chasing beauty that is only skin deep is highlighted beautifully by Gale’s tone and characterisation.
Beauty, Unravelling is a twist on Beauty and the Beast with a suggestion that happily ever afters aren’t always the end result. I detect Gale raising a cautionary note on our ability to deceive ourselves if our will is strong enough. She highlights our tendency to project our wants and hopes on others and the disaster that can bring.
The final Lily in Winter asks a “what if” of the tale Cinderella. What if someone else fit the shoe. A love gained by deception, will destroy itself seems to be the strongest wisdom imparted by this piece.
I return to the difficulty of retelling or re-crafting Fairy tales. Its sounds deceptively easy The Most Beautiful Woman in the World, and Lily in Winter, however, strike me as not only some of the better retellings of their respective tales, but as some of the better short stories I have read in recent memory.
Keep your eyes out for Rabia Gale.
This ebook was provided by the author at no cost to me.
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