Title: Fierce Fairytales & Other Stories to Stir Your Soul
Author: Nikita Gill
Genre: Poetry, Feminist
My Rating: 3/5 stars
Summary (from Goodreads):
Traditional fairytales are rife with cliches and gender stereotypes: beautiful, silent princesses; ugly, jealous, and bitter villainesses; girls who need rescuing; and men who take all the glory.
But in this rousing new prose and poetry collection, Nikita Gill gives Once Upon a Time a much-needed modern makeover. Through her gorgeous reimagining of fairytale classics and spellbinding original tales, she dismantles the old-fashioned tropes that have been ingrained in our minds. In this book, gone are the docile women and male saviors. Instead, lines blur between heroes and villains. You will meet fearless princesses, a new kind of wolf lurking in the concrete jungle, and an independent Gretel who can bring down monsters on her own.
Complete with beautifully hand-drawn illustrations by Gill herself, Fierce Fairytales is an empowering collection of poems and stories for a new generation.
So I literally blitzed through this in two days, as I usually do with anthologies. Honestly, the entire thing is so gorgeous, from the cover to the illustrations, right down to the writing style itself, that I just couldn’t help myself.
As the Goodreads summary says, Gill has basically given “Happily Ever After” a makeover. This is bold, it’s unapologetic, and I loved it.
Well, the first half of it anyway.
The first half of the anthology is everything I dreamed it could be. Gill takes well-known fairytales like Cinderella, The Little Mermaid and Peter Pan, twisting them into something brand new with stunning prose and breathtaking imagery. The themes of female empowerment are there, but they don’t dominate the collection. There are a few featuring male characters and their own stories which makes a refreshing change from most of the poetry collections I read.
(Okay, so my favourite is probably “Boy Lost”, a Peter Pan retelling, not that anyone is surprised about that in the slightest. The thing gave me shivers. Besides that though, there are a few that hold surprisingly solid messages for male readers!? Not something I tend to stumble across in feminist anthologies.)
Unfortunately, the second half of the collection deviates from the “fairytale retelling” theme somewhat. It becomes far more focused on female-empowerment which is BRILLIANT and I LOVE the message that Gill’s sending out – I just feel like she overdoes it a bit.
The last third of the book is the same sentiment recycled over and over, just with pretty new labels on it, which is frustrating because the first half is so good!! Like one or two poems interspersed throughout the others would be absolutely fine, but we don’t need an entire section of them, especially since after a couple they all say the same thing.
Keep it short and sweet – we’ve got the message.
That being said, if you love fairytales, you’ll adore the majority of this anthology – not to mention the exquisite illustrations!
That’s all for today – do any of you have a favourite poetry collection?
Lots of love,