Beasts and Beauty: Dangerous Tales by Soman Chainani

I don’t know what you were planning to read this October but I cannot recommend this collection highly enough. This short story collection of fairy tales, dark and delicious, was the perfect way to start my October.


SYNOPSIS

Twelve tales, twelve dangerous tales of mystery, magic, and rebellious hearts. Each twists like a spindle to reveal truths full of warning and triumph, truths that capture hearts long kept tame and set them free, truths that explore life . . . and death.
A prince has a surprising awakening . . .                           
A boy refuses to become prey . . .
A path to happiness is lost. . . . then found again. 
New York Times bestselling author Soman Chainani respins old stories into fresh fairy tales for a new era and creates a world like no other. These stories know you. They understand you. They reflect you. They are tales for our times. So read on, if you dare.  from The Story Graph

An illustrated woman holding a knife and wearing a red cape is standing under a huge wolf beast whose mouth is open.

MY THOUGHTS

I had an appointment that was, approximately, two hours of waiting this weekend. I sat down on some crumbly steps in the shade, opened this book, and did not look up until the very last page. For someone (me) that does not enjoy short stories I really thought I would pop in and out of the book. Instead, when I finally stopped, I was stiff and sore from sitting totally still on concrete. It was that good.

Soman Chainani is the author of The School for Good and Evil. I have only enjoyed the first in the series (I really keep meaning to read the rest!) but I loved the way he flipped the tale-as-old-as-time on its head. I was delighted to find the many different ways he did the same for these 12 tales.

Red Riding Hood, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Rapunzel, Jack and the Beanstalk, Hansel and Gretel, Beauty and the Beast, Bluebeard, Cinderella, The Little Mermaid, Rumpelstiltskin, and Peter Pan – we all know the stories right? And, I am no stranger to a retelling but these stories….they were amazing. I can’t decide if they are feminist or righteous but these stories are twisted in a way that made me want to clap out loud.

For this to make sense, I must admit that I really (really) don’t like Disney Princesses. Tiana and Rapunzel are my Disney exceptions and I could, honestly, leave the rest. The older movies bothered me, even as a child, and the newer ones are all the same theme. Usually, something along the lines of, “I have everything in the world but what I really want is the one thing my wealth and privilege doesn’t allow…”

My most hated of Disney films is The Little Mermaid. The music (as in most Disney movies) is perfection. But, that clam-shell wearing Princess declaring to her Dad that, “I’m 16 Daddy!” has always given me the heebie-jeebies. Chainani’s retelling from the point of view of the sea witch is everything I have always wanted to say to Ariel and more. “You spotted a hot dude, huh? And now you’re going to give up your family, your tail, and your voice? Girl, no.”

The stories are all different and the endings of each were unpredictable enough to surprise me every time. I’m sitting here, right now, staring at the table of contents and trying to figure out the weak story but I really cannot.

I suppose, if you adore the Disney movies (no judgement – we all like what we like!), these stories might be upsetting and feel twisted. And, certainly I would rate the appropriateness as YA and up.

But, if you want to spend some time revisiting these stories with the clear-cut good vs evil stripped away, this is the book for you. It was dark, it was amazing, and it was frighteningly good.


Tell me, please! Are you a fairy tale purist or do you like your stories light and happy?


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