Sunday 9 April 2017

Book Review: Fairy Tales For Modern Queers; Emily Reed.

We all know that Fairy Tales are the stories I love above all other things, but when combining that with interpretations promoting diversity and inclusion, particularly of the LGBTQ+ Community, we should have a clear winner for book of the month. Right?

SOURCE: Netgalley
TYPE: E-Read

TITLE: Fairy Tales For Modern Queers
AUTHOR: Emily Reed
Harmony Ink Press
PAGES: 146
GENRE: Short Stories, Young Adult, LGBT, Retelling

RATING: 3/5 Stars

Gay teenager Hart could finish his fairy tale for class if his horrible step-siblings would stop harassing him. Talia’s depression is like a sleeping curse and may kill her if she doesn’t ask for help. Independent, overweight bisexual Sienna deals with her “nice guy” neighbour while visiting her grandmother. When a mysterious girl climbs up Rachael’s fire escape, Rachael might finally break free from her overprotective mother. Transgender Amelia is bullied regularly for her identity, but she’ll show everyone exactly who she is. 

Princess Rellyn must face down a dragon since she’s seventh in line and battle her father since she's not a boy, and she’s not sure which one is scarier. An adventurous knight whisks away gender-fluid Noll when all they want is a quiet life on their farm. Mermaid Astrid wants revenge on the man who betrayed her, but is confused by her attraction to the one sailor immune to her song. Asexual Myka might love Princess Lysandria, but Myka must learn to control her inner werewolf before the king marries her off to “cure” her. With the help of a witch, blacksmith’s apprentice Malcolm must find his missing prince.

What I Liked:
  • The idea behind this book is insanely good and a message that I wish I could see promoted in all YA literature. Divided into two parts, the first set of stories re-imagined classic tales such as Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty & Little Red Riding Hood and turned them into contemporary LGBT+ stories. There was some great story ideas, and I particularly liked other themes that wove through these stories: mental health, sexism, family issues etc. My favourite set of stories was the second though: new fairy tales set in Fantasy Kingdoms where LGBT characters were actually taken seriously! Hats off to Reed for showing everyone just how easy it is to have an asexual werewolf, or a gender-fluid peasant to save the kingdom. It all felt very natural, and THIS is the kind of Fantasy I want to read.
What I Disliked:
  • Reed clearly has plenty of imagination to spare. What the stories lacked however, was depth. With every story, I found myself drawn into the world and it's message, before being cruelly ousted out with a 'and then some vague, other stuff happened and they all lived happily ever after'. WHAT? NO! I knew this would be a problem because the book was only 196 pages long, and that's just not long enough for a compilation of short stories. More detail and development was definitely needed.
  • Reed's writing skills really didn't blow me away either. She wrote well, but I didn't feel any personality from her writing and I so badly wanted to fall in love with this collection. Everything was a little vague: contemporary stories were mostly set in school and didn't delve much deeper than 'classroom', 'tryouts' and 'prom'. I found the same with the Fantasy settings. All fictional kingdoms have forests, castles and Knights a plenty. I want more detail!
Overall Conclusion:
I'm disappointed really that this book's only saving grace was it's message. Reed put a lot of thought into the project itself and I would urge other writers to do the same and write more inclusive characters into their books, especially Fantasy and other such genres where it's hard to find characters like that. It needed more depth and better development for it's characters, setting and plot. As retellings go, they were imaginative and thought-put in some areas, and vague and a little boring in others. 

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