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Fairy Tale Retelling, 305 pages
Expected publication: May 8th 2012 by Harcourt Children's Books
When Ashley and I started our discussions for this year's FTF, there was 1 book that topped both of our wishlists - Aletha Kontis' Enchanted. Sure, there were plenty of other fairy tale books we wanted to read, and movies we wanted to see, but we were both in a mania to get our hands on this book (which wasn't an easy feat, lemme tell you). That cover and title combo, coupled with the fact that it's a retelling of The Frog freaking Prince, meant that we just had to cover it this year! And I have to say, I'm glad we did.
Now, I don't think this is necessarily the book for everybody. Some people definitely like their fairy tale retellings darker and weightier. And I certainly like that side of them - but I also like the fun, tongue-in-cheek exuberance that comes with the lighter retellings. This one definitely falls into the light category. It's very breezy and quirky and fun. I know I just used the word exuberant, but it really is the perfect word for this tale. It's refreshing. There is bad stuff and dark stuff, as there always will be, but it's the type of tale where there is never really any doubt that it's all going to come out right in the end.
Along the way, it throws in or touches on like every tale, ever. Those with a passing knowledge of fairy tales may not get everything and may just feel like certain things are weird quirks to the storytelling. For the rest of us (ie those obsessed), each tale is like a little easter egg, and you're wondering which you're going to find next. It could have been too much, but for me at least, it wasn't. I absolutely loved the idea of a girl whose stories come to life, and a family (and couple) who essentially became the basis for all of the fairy tales we know. They sort of live them all, and it sort of all happens in a fairly short amount of time. (Well, a very short amount of time, but I'll get to that.) It's a fun little twist that I think fairy tale lovers will appreciate. When I finished it, I described in on Goodreads as "weird, but a good weird" - it's the kind of weird that just keeps you grinning and turning the pages.
But. As I said, I don't think this will necessarily be the book for everyone, and here's why:
The obstacles keeping the protags apart sometimes seemed forced or outlandish. This is going back to that weird-but-good-weird thing, but I know it will bother some people they they just don't talk. That they're just not honest, that everyone is just not honest. But the characters of Sunday and Rumbold (and basically everybody) are very, very enjoyable, and I think make up for this. The story and the characters and the dynamics are very charming and homey-feeling, which I really liked, and which suits the fairy tale retelling aspect well, for all that their connections are convoluted and a bit too conveniently interlinked for my tastes.
But mostly, it's all down to timing. I know things come in 3s and 3 days is sort of magical fairy-taleness. But I would have liked more time in the development of the relationship between Sunday & the Frog and Sunday & the Prince (same guy, two meetings, both centered around 3 days). Yes, 3 is magical and all, but really? There's no reason things can't happen slower and sweeter. It's as easy as starting a chapter with "In the coming weeks, blah blah blah" and poof! Your characters have now known each other for a respectable amount of time. 3 days is just not enough for me to buy everlasting love, even if it technically has to be true love, because only true love's kiss transforms, and all that. I just - I'm too jaded for that. And I want the build-up. I want the butterflies and the flirtatious moments, and the burgeoning realization of love. I was able to set this aside (because I know how fairy tales work and I know how YA works, and I get that it's magic, so fine). But I know some readers won't be able to. One man's enjoyably-weird is another man's too-freaking-weird, and it all just comes down to which camp you fall into - How willingly do you suspend your disbelief?
(With the exception of love, my answer is pretty willingly.)
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