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Truly Grim Tales by Priscilla Galloway

Truly Grim Tales

by Priscilla Galloway

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A collection of twisted fairy tales, I originally read it many, many years ago, and some of the stories remained so vividly in my mind that when I stumbled across the book again, I was eager to re-read it. Galloway tells the tales from unique perspectives - sometimes the villain, sometimes a minor character, always revealing them in a surprising new light.

The Name tells the story of Rumpelstiltskin from his perspective - giving his backstory, growing up as an unloved, disfigured and lonely prince. Galloway gives the character a motivation for helping the poor girl who had to spin straw into gold (she was his illegitimate and estranged daughter) as well as motivation for naming the baby as his price.

Blood and Bone re-imagines "Jack and the Beanstalk," but in this universe the "giants" are human beings. A horrible disease affects many people, and the only cure is the bones of a race of small pigmies. Most people believe the pigmies are no smarter than animals, but one, the "giant's" wife was raised by them and knows they have their own language and are just tiny people.

A Bed of Peas tells the "Rapunzel" story from the perspective of her parents - her original parents, who traded her to the witch for some cabbages.

The Voice of Love is a tender and tragic rendition of "The Little Mermaid" - the Hans Christian Anderson version, where the mermaid dies because the prince marries the other girl. Galloway sticks close to the original version of the tale for this one, but telling the story from the prince's perspective and showing his gradual realization of what's happened, is an interesting one and Galloway writes this story beautifully. I think this is the best story in the collection.

The Good Mother is the story of "Little Red Riding Hood" set in a post-apocalyptic world with giant killer clams and talking wolves.

A Taste for Beauty provides a surprising, but fitting, origin story for the evil queen from "Snow White," and the next story, The Woodcutter's Wife continues her story as she takes on a new identity as the wife of a peasant and plots to destroy his children, becoming the tale of "Hansel and Gretel."

The Prince is "Cinderella" from the prince's perspective. In Galloway's version the prince was really in love with his tutor, but when the king found out he had the tutor put to death. The prince falls for the girl with glass slippers because they remind him of the romantic foot baths he and the tutor would give each other.

These stories are imaginative and original. The collection is short and very easy to breeze through. Galloway's style was sometimes lovely, but at other times I found it palling and I found myself skimming. I didn't feel as surprised or moved by the collection as the first time I read it, but I think I was in elementary school then and I've read a lot of fairy tale stories between then and now. I'm still glad I got a chance to revisit these ones once more, though, ( )
  catfantastic | Apr 28, 2012 |
Those these reinterpretations of some of the Brothers Grimm's characters and stories are geared toward younge rreaders, it doesn't excuse the fact that Ms. Galloway chooses to end her stories in a nebulous, enigmatic manner., ( )
  andyray | Sep 4, 2009 |
It’s strange the things one remembers; take this book, for instance. I checked it out from the library once when I was a preteen, and as far as I remember only read one story from it before I returned it, but that story, a retelling of “The Little Mermaid,” has stuck with me all of these years. Thanks to Rubbah and kirstygm of the Fairy Tales Retold Group, I discovered the book’s title, which I had forgotten, and finding my library still carried a copy, checked it out yet again.

I still love the story that captured my interest all those years ago, which sports the terrible title “The Voice of Love.” It continues the tragedy of Hans Christian Anderson’s classic yarn, focusing on the prince after his marriage and the little mermaid’s disappearance. His relationship with his wife, beautiful, sensuous, and rather ill tempered, is fascinatingly and tragically drawn, especially as he realizes that the woman who truly loved him is now lost to him forever. There’s one particularly telling scene in which he discovers his wife designing a head ornament using various precious gems, and seeing pearls among them, he remembers his little friend and how much she loved to wear them. “Put away the jewels,” he tells the jeweler in a fury. “Another day my wife may wish a design of rubies and diamonds. Not pearls.” The story’s ending is darker and less vague than I remembered, but considering how many wonderful memories the tale had to live up to, it is really quite wonderful, and probably my favorite retelling of this fairy tale.

Unfortunately, only two of the other seven stories even remotely appealed to me—“The Name,” in which Rumpelstiltskin tells his own dark and tragic story, and “A Bed of Peas,” the story of Rapunzel’s parents told with touches of “The Princess and the Pea” and “The Arabian Nights.” Some of the other stories are more generically grim, including “Blood and Bone,” in which the Giant’s wife reveals the reasoning behind her treatment of Jack, “The Good Mother,” a futuristic “Little Red Riding Hood” complete with talking rabid animals and giant clams (why?), and “The Woodcutter’s Wife,” which applies the rather cliché wife/witch interpretation to the story of Hansel and Gretel. Rounding off the collection are “A Taste for Beauty,” which really adds nothing of substance to the character of Snow White’s stepmother, and “The Prince,” in which Cinderella’s beau becomes a guilty guy with a foot fetish.

These stories are more like back stories or alternate viewings of the traditional stories than straightforward retellings, and that kept things interesting even in the tales I didn’t particularly like, because I could rarely tell at the beginning which fairy tale was getting a sad or horrific twist this time. In general, Galloway’s prose is very good, sometimes mirroring the didactic style of her sources and sometimes reveling in the beauty of a scent or flavor, but occasionally I would come across a strangely phrased sentence or word that did not fit its setting.

If you are an adult or teenager who enjoys horror stories and fairy tales, this collection will probably be your dream come true. For those, like me, who are sensitive and have a low tolerance for gore and scares, it is probably worth a library check-out (or two, if you fall in love with one particular story), but not much more. ( )
5 vote ncgraham | Aug 5, 2009 |
a psychologically dark but engaging re-visioning of the old standard folk-tales, offering the perspectives of witches and wolves and ogres, oh my! ( )
  jstuart | Feb 12, 2006 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0440227283, Mass Market Paperback)

Based on the well-known fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm, Charles Perrault, and Hans Christian Andersen, these retellings will intrigue and disturb readers. From a futuristic "Little Red Riding Hood" in which giant clams and carnivorous beasts stalk humans, to the real reason why the giant in "Jack and the Beanstalk" needs to eat human bones, to a version of "Snow White" told from the wicked stepmother's point of view, fans of fairy and folk tales will find much to interest them.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:56:36 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

A guilt-ridden prince with a foot fetish seeking his glass-slippered dance partner and a beauty contest winner as Snow White's murderous stepmother are featured in two of the original "grim" plots in this young adult collection loosely based on eight traditional fairy tales.… (more)

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