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The Rose and the Beast: Fairy Tales Retold (2000)

by Francesca Lia Block

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1,2892915,076 (3.81)21
Nine classic fairy tales set in modern, magical landscapes and retold with a twist.

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  BooksInMirror | Feb 19, 2024 |
My fourth Block book and another one I absolutely love. Block is marketed as a YA author, but I question the suitability of this book for teens. This collection feels like an adult's feminist commentary on what it means to grow up as a girl and I imagine it's really hard to appreciate this direct of a commentary when you're in the thick of growing up.

It's almost funny that these are called fairy tales, because in reality they're stories for girls who didn't get to have that sort of fairy tale romance or sexual experience when they were in their teens. These are for and about girls who experienced rape, inappropriate relationships, and romances touched by darkness. The happy endings rarely involve romance, they're more likely to involve coping mechanisms, friendships, lessons to teach, and an overall sentiment of "get going kid, you're not dead yet."

As an adult reader who never experienced anything close to a fairytale as a teen, these darker fairy tales lit me up. I particularly enjoyed the below fairytales:

Glass, a retelling of Cinderella where she's a storyteller and her step-sisters try beat down her confidence to shut her up. The happiest and most pure of all the stories.

Wolf, a retelling of Red Riding Hood that's so reminiscent of one of my favorite movies, Freeway with Reese Witherspoon, and is basically about a girl who takes revenge into her own hands against the man who's been molesting her.

Charm, a retelling of Sleeping Beauty where Prince Charming is a girl and Sleeping Beauty is a drug addict who gets pimped out for drugs and porn.

Beauty, a retelling of Beauty and the Beast where Beauty turns into a Beast herself as she falls for him.

Few of these stories have particularly happy endings, but in a sense, they're all happy endings because the girl survives in the end. Whether she's choosing less than ideal relationships, whether everyone's against her, whether she loses everyone she loves, or she's a victim of some terrible abuse, she survives. And when you think of all the girls who don't survive these sort of things, the girls who die from suicide and drugs and homicide...it makes you more appreciative of your survival, like your own fucked up story could be a fairytale too. I'm gonna go out on a limb and say that was probably Block's point with this collection. ( )
  tanyaferrell | Dec 23, 2022 |
Possibly one of the best collections of short story fairy tale retellings out there. Lyric and poetic while embracing the gritty, darker aspects of many tales. Reading Francesca Lia Block is like dreaming with your eyes open. ( )
  jennybeast | Apr 14, 2022 |
I am a fan of re-imagined fairy tales, and a few of the tales in this book (Snow, Ice and Beast) are quite good, focusing on the main female characters and the power and complications of love.

The other stories, however, are not nearly as good. Block seems to equate "modernization" with incest, sex, and drugs, and many of these stories seems to be told merely for the shock value. Some of the stories could be longer, and many are too short to the point of being vague and confusing. ( )
  Elna_McIntosh | Sep 29, 2021 |
I loved this book! It was beautiful and the stories were full of emotion.
I read the first story, Snow, over the summer, and really wanted to read the rest
It only took me about 2 days to finish, and I probably could've finished it in less if I didn't have school or anything else to do.

It's a retelling of 9 fairy tales and I like her takes on all of them
I hadn't heard of Bluebeard before or read Ice Queen, but they're pretty interesting stories.
I just loved the way she writes. She expresses ideas and emotions beautifully. ( )
  DoomLuz | Jul 20, 2021 |
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my husband, Chris Schuette
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When she was born her mother was so young, still a girl herself, didn't know what to do with her.
"He said he thought smoking was a primitive reflex to the cold—like building fires. The cold inside, too."
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