This year is no different, and it seems Bonnie and I managed to lose to very lovely posts from Random Jordan in the shuffle. But it's never too late for fairy tale talk, right? So today, I have a guest review of Cameron Jace's Grimm Diaries Prequels, while Bonnie is hosting an awesome post about the evolution of fairy tales, which you should totally check out! (And if you want more Grimm Diaries, check out Bonnie's FTF excerpt of them!)
I’ll be the first one to admit that I’m a sucker for any kind of fairy tale re-telling, re-imagination, or just a look at the expanded universe of a fairy tale. This is probably why my kindle is littered with Andrew Lang’s books, all of the Wizard of Oz books, and a variety of modern fairy tales, which include the most reasons ones I’ve come across by Cameron Jace. These are a collection of short stories pulled together to create the prequel tales to a series Jace is releasing called ‘The Grimm Diaries’, which will start with Snow White Sorrow.
Each tale tends to focus on different major fairy tale characters including Cinderella, sleeping beauty, red riding hood, the evil witch from a few tales, beauty and the best, and many more. The premise based around each of these ‘diaries’ is that these are the fairy tale characters essentially telling their version of the story, since the Brothers Grimm had actually fabricated much of their history to lead away from the fact that most of the characters are immortal beings with exceptional powers (in some cases) in our world.
My particular focus will be on one of the diaries, the fourth one in fact, which is told by Little Red Riding Hood. Most people tend to just mention the first one, as it is a good opener to the rest of the series and also involves the main character of the first actual book, Snow White. But considering my background with Red Riding Hood and the particularly interesting tale to be told with this Red Riding Hood, I’ll start with this story and bleed into some of the others.
The Grimm Diaries Prequel #4 is called Ladle Rat Rotten Hut and although the name doesn’t exactly make much sense at first, you come to realize why it is called that as you read the story. The story tells just like a diary, with this one in particular starting with ‘dear diary’ considering it is technically written by a pre-teen girl. The writing holds true to a little girl too, from the very beginning she is referring to noises by how they sound with ‘tick-tick-ticking’ and keeps up this rhythm, which is rather reminiscent of the famous repetition occurring in the Red Riding Hood tale when she has dialogue with the wolf, as well as a common 3-3-3 theme in thousands of fairy tales, where things will repeat in threes.
And this is where the true beauty of the tale manages to show up too. Just by reading this single story, anyone who knows their origins and many versions of the same fairy tale can tell that Jace had done his homework. He brings mention to the golden hood which then later becomes red, in reference to the fact that Little Red Riding Hood was originally thought to be Little Golden Hood with her magical hooded cloak that protected her from the wolf. Further similar references soon appear as well as ones crafted by the author the most prominent of which I refuse to giveaway since it is rather crucial to the story, but let’s just say the red cloak and Red Riding Hood actually has a rather important job in the world, which explains why she’s an immortal.
Her tale mostly follows along the same story, with a wolf and the girl traveling through the woods on her own. But you discover soon that her reason for seeing her grandmother is more than just bringing her food and drink.
As for the name of the story? Well, during the course of the tale Red Riding Hood remembers and speaks with a language that is unique to only certain people. And her name in this language is Ladle Rat Rotten Hut, which means in English ‘Little Red Riding Hood’. She continually laments how everyone around her thinks her name is ridiculous.
The most interesting aspect of this story though was actually the method of interweaving Red Riding Hood with the Hansel and Gretel twins being saved from the witch. How was this done? Well first Red Riding Hood meets twins in town, and then when she gets to her grandmother’s she discovers the wolf in her grandmother’s bed, but he was bound there by her grandmother who was a terrible witch and had just eaten the twins Red Riding Hood met earlier!
This was definitely a far different and interesting twist on the story, and managed to weave other fairy tales into it, which is significantly more interesting and what I had been doing with my own series.
The other stories don’t all have quite so many twists and turns as this one did, and some of them actually focused on only parts of the stories of a character being told. Like the one involving Cinderella, called Ashes to Ashes, Cinder to Cinder, which is told by a granddaughter of the Grimm Brothers.
Regardless the unique atmosphere and combination of the various fairy tales and folklore makes this series a particularly fun one to pick up. Anyone who loves fairy tales will love these stories, so long as they have an open mind about those fairy tales. The only thing I could have asked for more with them was some diversity and variation in the characters, many of them still hold to the mostly straight white characters and there are tons of fairy tales that offer massive interpretations for diversity.
Regardless, the entire set of prequels is definitely worth a look considering how cheap they are, and how quick a read they can be. They can even be a great read for parents with children, so long as you look out for some of the darker stories. So get out there and enjoy some of those ‘wants pawn term’ (Once upon a time) stories!
Random Jordan is a self-proclaimed folklorist and frequent writer of all fashion of fiction with a particular focus of weaving LGBT themes into fairy tales, like their debut novel, The Real Folktale Blues, following Red Riding Hood in her adventures as a bounty hunter.