Saturday, 2 July 2011

Book Review: Secrets, Monsters and Magic Mirrors ed. by Donald B. Lemke



Title: Secrets, Monsters and Magic Mirrors: Stone Arch Fairy Tales Volume 2
Author: edited by Donald B. Lemke
Release Date: 1 August 2011
Number of pages: 176 pages
Publisher: Capstone
Source: review copy provided by publisher via NetGalley
Purchasing Info: Goodreads, Amazon

Grade: 4 stars

Novellus superbus!
Goodreads appetizer: Five of the world's greatest fairy tales are retold in the popular and attractive graphic novel format. Beautiful, bold illustrations give these timeless tales a modern edge. The stories include Beauty and the Beast, Rapunzel, Princess and the Pea, Snow White, and Thumbelina.

Dual review with Blodeuedd

My Thoughts:

Rapunzel

Blodeuedd's thoughts:

This story is not as sweet as the latest Disney version Tangled made it out to be. Rapunzel is given to a witch as a baby and is later put in a tower, until the day she meets her princen but the witch finds out and punishes them. It gets sad for poor Rapzunel and her prince. Of course there are different versions to the story and this is one of them. But it all ends with a happily ever after. But there is sure some wicked things going on in between. I see that Stella mentioned them so I will to, the prince makes her preggers! Haha, yes that did not happen in the Disney version. But then I do like the real versions more, with blood, torns in eyes and women lost in the woods.

The pictures are cute and well drawn. The clothes make it more real since they all look like they come from some nice little old German village. The colors are also very dark in a way and fits the general tone of the story. Very cute in the end.

Story: 4 stars
Illustrations: 4 stars


Stella’s thoughts:

I have to confess Rapunzel is the fairy tale I’m the less familiar with. Somehow it wasn’t that popular where I live, so I wasn’t exactly familiar with some details of the tale (for example about the prequel story of Rapunzel’s parents and why she was named Rapunzel).

What shocked me in the story was that following the prince’s nightly visits Rapunzel gave birth to twins.. err.. o_o

The drawings were cute, the people looked like urchins with small button-eyes. The only character which looked horrible was the witch, I didn’t like her drawing, she looked like a mad character from Addams family, but the other drawings were adorable. This tale retained a German folk-tale feeling thanks to the drawings.

Story: 3.5 stars
Illustrations: 4 stars


Thumbelina

Blodeuedd's thoughts:

Tumbelina is the story of a woman who wants a child, goes to a witch and gets a tiny child to call her own. But that poor child gets kidnapped a lot and everyone wants to marry her before she finds her fairy prince. I feel very wicked but the Tumbelina figure was not that cute so I kept on wondering why everyone wanted to marry her. Also maybe that is the grown-up talking but in one picture it looks like a bug is trying to rape her o_O.

This one had another look to it, and it fits perfect as a picture book for children.

Story: 4 stars
Illustrations: 2 stars (yes I know evil, but not my style)


Stella's thoughts:

As a child I adored the WB’s Thumbelina movie, I grew up with it and loved the story, the characters and the illustrations.

This picture book/graphic novel retelling of the story didn’t disappoint. It was cute, the rawings were colourful and I’m sure children would love it. All the secondary characters looked adorable, with Ms. Mouse and Mr. Mole being the most memorable and my personal favourite. Thumbelina looks quite unusual (her face reminded me a bit of a toad as her eyes are really really far away in her face). A very cute retelling that I’m sure children will enjoy a lot.

Story: 4.5 stars
Illustrations: 4 stars


Snow White

Blodeuedd's thoughts:

The tale of Snow White has a more comic/manga feel to it. The story is also a bit different, starting from the prince to the demise of the wicked queen. And it is a very good story. Though again it had me wondering. The prince did not save her, a servant did but she still fell for the prince, tsk.

For kids, eh, perhaps not. Too many things going on in the pictures. This story is more for older kids and teens that can read for themselves.

Another thing being told is the history at the end of each story. At the end of this one I learned something new. That some historians say that Snow White was a real person who lived in a German mining town. Margareta von Waldock who was loved by Prince Phillip II of Spain, but she poisoned at the age of 21.

Story: 4 stars
Illustrations: 4 stars (I love this style but then I do like manga)


Stella's thoughts:

This story really stuck out for me in a very negative way. As soon as I turned the first page I instantly disliked it. The illustrations look like some manga/slutty fantasy comic, the drawings are way too adult compared to the others in the book, the women’s lips, breasts are way too emphasized. I wouldn’t have minded these drawings as much if they weren’t included in an anthology intended for younger children. This story in my opinion is not only not suitable for them, but I think it won’t even appeal to them.

However this fairy tale was the one which had the most deviations form the original:

- the role of the hunter who is sent by the evil queen to murder Snow White is played here by a wold, who would rather eat cake!

- Snow White is not the queen’s stepdaughter,

- the prince is not introduced to us because he falls for Snow White, the novel begins with him being invited by the queen as she wants to marry him! When he refused her proposal, she imprisoned him in the mirror.

- the dwarves live in a cave and not the adorable cottage in the forest

- and they don’t vanquish the queen by pushing her off a cliff but from springing from underground to drag her down.

The cartoons of the queen, the prince and Snow White look too adult fantasy. However, the dwarves were the cutest ever! They looked like some adorable Japanese chibis.

I loved reading the fact sheet after every single tale, where they told small trivia, tidbits about the tale and its adaotations.

I learned here that it was the Disney version which gave the dwarves their names, the names were chosen from fifty possibilities like dirty and awful :-D

And as Linda already mentioned it that the tale of Snow White was probably based on a real person.

Unfortunately due to the horrible drawings I greatly disliked this retelling. :-/

Story: 3 stars
Illustrations: 2 stars (only because of the cute dwarves!)


Beauty and the Beast

Blodeuedd's thoughts:

This was another cute tale and the beast looked really hideous and scary (not the kind of beast you fall in love with). But you see that his eyes were nice, and then the story gets really sad as she leaves and promises to return but her father tells her not to. But this is a fairytale and they get their happy ever after. As it should be. Still, have a little more backbone Beauty.

The drawings are really simple, but in this really cute way.

I also find the last page so fascinating again as it tells that the beast stayed a beast in the original version. My oh my.

Story: 4 stars
Illustrations: 4 stars


Stella's thoughts:

Beauty and the Beast is another fairy tale I only know through the Disney version, so this retelling gave me some surprisings turns (like how the Beast’s castle was ruled by promises and if Beauty broke her promise to return in time the Beast would die, certainly added some drama to the story).

The drawings were cute (reminded me of South Park characters), my only complaint was the beast, he looked ridiculous like a modern furry minotaurus.

Beauty in this retelling didn’t seem like the all-good and selfless girl she is usually made to be, her reason to refuse the Beast’s proposal was shallow even for a fairy tale (“How could I marry a beast?”- like she was too good for him *snorts*)

Just like Linda, I enjoyed a lot learning about the history of the original tale and seeing that actually the story of the Beauty and the Beast was written for adults and was a very lengthy novel at first!

Story: 4 stars
Illustrations: 3.5 stars


The Princess and the Pea

Blodeuedd's thoughts:

The prince meets a lot of strange and funny princesses before he returns home to the castle without a wife. The drawings suits the story once again, and the different princesses are the best part. And yes of course she slept badly on top of that! I would have been scared to death. The whole feel reminds me of something but I can’t think of what. Not much more to add.

Story: 3.5 stars
Illustrations: 3.5 stars


Stella's thoughts:

Though The Princess and the Pea is one of those fairy tales which has the least action or happening taking place, in this retelling this was one of the fairy tales I loved the most due to the beautiful, classy drawings.

They look very modern and grow up, the royal family looks like a danish crown family, all blond, tall and slim :-)

The story showed the prince’s quest to find his princess through several kingdoms, and it was a couple of pages which made me chuckle. It showed a very original and funny caricature of princesses, and I loved that besides the elegant and brilliant illustrations the story also had humour and wit.

The ending especially cute, ensuring that I finished the book with a smile. The story ended with showing that the famous pea thanks to which the prince found his wife was put in exhibition in a glass pane. But somehow a cute little mouse is sniffing it deciding whether to eat the pea. ;-)

One of my favourite stories in the novel, this one could also be enjoyed by older children.

Story: 5 stars
Illustrations: 5 stars


Verdict:

Blodeuedd: As a conclusion: These stories were all well drawn and retold. I liked them and I do think that they all are fun to read to children and adults will enjoy them too.


So the overall score from me is: 4 stars

Stella: Overall this was a fun little book with mostly cute and colourful drawings. My favourite part were the fact-sheets at the end of each tale where we learned some history of the original tale or some tidbits regarding its movie adaptations or different versions.

Overall grade: 4 stars

Buy it: on Amazon


Blodeuedd often has her head in the clouds and dreams about castles, princes and magic swords. At the moment she is studying to become a librarian so that she can bury her nose in books all day long. She lives in a tiny house and likes to find swamps in the woods, but once she did walk over a frog by mistake and she hopes it was not a prince in disguise. Her favorite fairy tale is not the original fairytales but more mythology tales of heartache and war. But she does have a soft spot for East of the Sun, West of the Moon about an enchanted Bear and the girl he finds. She would not mind if her own prince Charming inherited a little kingdom and one big ass castle for her to live in. Perhaps when the world ends she will nudge him to conquer an island and build her one from scratch.

You can catch a glimpse of her at her blog Book Girl of Mur-y-Castell or on Twitter.

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