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text 2014-05-27 19:02
Reading progress update: I've read 48 out of 288 pages.
The Fairest of Them All: A Novel - Carolyn Turgeon

If there's one things I've learned from newer adult fairy tale revisions it's this: Men are shit, and women hate each other (doesn't really give us many options, does it?) Men want sex, and they'll take it through violence or manipulation, or whatever works, and then dismiss you, because they're shallow. (Unless this is Teresa Medeiros, who writes actual romances, and the rapey moment are accidental. But still there, sighs.) This is, obviously, directly in contrast to what we learned from fairy tales as children, which I am sure is the point. And no more realistic, frankly.


In 1988, my dad took me to see Into the Woods for my eleventh birthday. That kicked off my immense passion for fairy tales. It opened my eyes to the world of the fairy tale revision, of the more realistic take; the difference was that that stuck closely to the original themes and events of the tales, instead of twisting them to make their own points. It's interesting, the newer stuff, and I am enjoying the book; authors such as Turgeon has very interesting ideas, and a depth, even if the characters seem rather shallow.


But I've also learned that, even though these girls don't need no men, they also, apparently, never get no happily ever afters, so I'm already bummed for the inevitable existential ending, sighs. I miss the darker themes when I read the YA, and I miss the romanticism when I read the adult fiction.


"And they say romance is dead. Or maybe they just wish it." -Buffy, Buffy the Vampire Slayer

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review 2014-01-31 00:00
The Fairest of Them All: A Novel
The Fairest of Them All: A Novel - Carolyn Turgeon Wow! This book exceeded my expectations! (And, after following Turgeon’s ‘Mermaid’ blog, I had reasonably high expectations.)
Ignore the teenage-oriented cover art. This story would fit in perfectly with Terri Windling’s ‘Fairy Tale Series,’ legendary for its dark and complex renditions of classic tales by the likes of Kara Dalkey, Charles de Lint, Patricia Wrede, and Tanith Lee, among others.

The tale meshes ‘Rapunzel’ with ‘Snow White,’ adding in other classic elements such as the enchanted stag, &c. But the familiar elements here twist into a more complex tale of bitterness, manipulation, jealousy and revenge – while maintaining the readers’ sympathy and understanding, even though the characters may be driven to horrible things.

Turgeon perfectly grasps the kernels of the stories she’s working with, and remains true to them, even while building up a lovely filigree of literary embellishments around that original gem. Her other novels are going straight to my must-read list.

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley. Thanks to both NetGalley and Touchstone.
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review 2013-12-04 00:00
The Fairest of Them All: A Novel
The Fairest of Them All: A Novel - Carolyn Turgeon While I did enjoy this book I also found it somewhat average. It is not that I disliked any part of the story or the characters, there was just something missing for me. I enjoyed the fusion of the various fairy tales and the characters were fine, there was just nothing great about it.

It is a quick read, I finished in just a few hours, and doesn't take a huge emotional toll on the reader even though there are portions of the story that seem intended for an emotional blow. I think I was just never able to fully connect with the characters or invest in the plot line enough to really be impacted when the emotional moments happened. This is really a 2.5* effort, just can't quite make it to 3*.
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review 2013-11-07 02:42
Individual Ratings for Haunted Legends
Haunted Legends - Ellen Datlow,Nick Mamatas,Catherynne M. Valente,Carolyn Turgeon,Carrie Laben,Jeffrey Ford,Gary A. Braunbeck,Erzebet YellowBoy,M.K. Hobson,Stephen Dedman,Lily Hoang,Laird Barron,Pat Cadigan,Ramsey Campbell,Joe R. Lansdale,Richard Bowes,Kaaron Warren,Kit Re

As I was not yet writing reviews when I read this book, I don't have reviews for each of the short stories included in this anthology. So here are my ratings; if I ever reread the book, I intend to add reviews.

★★★☆☆ Knickerbocker Holiday by Richard Bowes
★★☆☆☆ That Girl by Kaaron Warren
★☆☆☆☆ Akbar by Kit Reed
★★☆☆☆ The Spring Heel by Steven Pirie
★★★☆☆ As Red as Red by Caitlín R. Kiernan
★★★★☆ Tin Cans by Ekaterina Sedia
★★★★★ Shoebox Train Wreck by John Mantooth
★★★☆☆ Fifteen Panels Depicting the Sadness of the Baku and the Jotai by Catherynne M. Valente
★★★☆☆ La Llorona by Carolyn Turgeon
★★★☆☆ Face Like a Monkey by Carrie Laben
★★★☆☆ Down Atsion Road by Jeffrey Ford
★★★☆☆ Return to Mariabronn by Gary A. Braunbeck
★★☆☆☆ Following Double-Face Woman by Erzebet YellowBoy
★★★☆☆ Oaks Park by M.K. Hobson
★★★☆☆ For Those in Peril on the Sea by Stephen Dedman
★★★☆☆ The Foxes by Lily Hoang
★★★☆☆ The Redfield Girls by Laird Barron
★☆☆☆☆ Between Heaven and Hull by Pat Cadigan
★★☆☆☆ Chucky Comes to Liverpool by Ramsey Campbell
★★★★☆ The Folding Man by Joe R. Lansdale

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review 2013-10-29 00:00
Rain Village
Rain Village - Carolyn Turgeon There is a hazy quality to Rain Village that disguises the harsher aspects of Tessa’s world. Everything from her familial relationships to her time at the circus is impressionistic. Readers get the idea of what happens without having to deal with exacting details. It is very much a coping mechanism for Tessa that spills over into the rest of the novel, one that causes the novel to be more picturesque than it really should be given everything that happens to her over the course of her childhood. Still, the dream-like quality of the narrative works well given the larger-than-life personality of Mary and the fantastic aspects of the circus. There is poetry to the prose that beautifies the imagery and events, making this coming-of-age story even more special.

Tessa is an amazing girl. While the psychological damage done to her by the verbal and physical abuse heaped on her by her family is great indeed and an obvious aspect of her character, she does not understand what it means to give in to despair. She risks her body and her life not only to escape the pain of her childhood but also to prove to herself that she is more than her outward appearance. It is both admirable and painful to watch her tear herself to pieces, literally and figuratively, in order to heal.

The psychology behind Rain Village is intriguing. Not only does Tessa harbor scars from her past, Mary does as well. The mystery behind Mary’s scars is what fuels Tessa and yet prevents her from moving on with her life. In many ways, Mary’s presence in her life is just as damaging to Tessa’s psyche as her father’s physical and mother’s verbal abuse for the simple fact that Tessa cannot let Mary rest in peace. She cannot move forward with her life as a wife and star performer because she is still stuck in the past with Mary – the one person who is most responsible for her rescue. It is an unexpected twist in what appears to be a fairly straightforward story.

Rain Village at its heart is a very simple story about a girl who overcomes adversity through her own tenacity and the guidance of an amazing and eclectic woman. Underneath its surface though lies a morass of psychological and spiritual complications that drive Tessa’s determination and yet cause her growth to halt. It is fascinating take on the nature versus nurture debate of child-rearing, but most importantly, it is a beautiful story about the power of love.
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