Retold Fairy Tales

Book Review: Echo North

Echo North
Author: 
Meyer, Joanna Ruth
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

Would you all like to know what kept me up, new years eve, until 1 am? It was not the obvious fact that it was new year’s eve, and staying up until 12am was what we are all supposed to do, right? No! It was the simple reason, that I was spellbound and entranced, by this beautiful fairy tale of a book, and could not get away until I knew what happened. This tale captivated me and wouldn’t let go. This fable is a brilliant and magical retelling of a Norwegian tale called East of the Sun West of the Moon with references to other fairytales smattered throughout including Tam Lin and Psyche.

It’s basic premise is that one day after her father leaves town and mysteriously disappears, Echo Alkaev goes to look for him. She finds him on the brink of death. In order to save him she is sucked into a deal, by the same talking white wolf which disfigured her face and whom, she saved years before. A deal that will define and change the rest of her life. Live with me for a year in my enchanted house under the mountain, and I will save your father. There is only one rule, you cannot look upon me at night. Desperate and scared, and propelled by the mystery surrounding him, she does as she is asked.

She is soon launched into a magical world she never knew existed. With an enchanted house; in each room a different magical wonder, woven together like a tapestry; a magical library, with books explored through mirrors that one could travel into and experience, the four winds, a witch, a goddess and, a dreadful curse; Echo finds this world, on the edge of magic itself, dark, mysterious, lonely, full of peril, and wonder, and fantastical beyond belief. But more importantly, she finds a resiliency and strength in herself she never knew she possessed, the capacity to love beyond belief, and the courage to do what’s right even in the most dangerous of circumstances.

This book is filled with so many layers, it’s impossible to describe them all here, but suffice it to say, that if you let it, this story will weave itself into an incredible tapestry around you. It’s filled with so many different worlds that I just wanted to dive into and stay there forever. It’s filled with likable and relateablecharacters that felt like friends. Hal, the love interest, the tortured and lonely white wolf, Echo, the heroine, and so many lovable side characters, I can’t choose. It’s filled with vivid prose and world building and just so much goodness, and magic, and love, I just can’t even….

All I can say is pick up this book when it comes out. If you love fairy tales, and magic and heart felt story telling that will get you lost in worlds you don’t want to leave, and heart wrenching secrets that will make you happy and sad all at the same time. Than do yourself a favor and pick up this wonderful, fable! Total5 star read for me all the way! Thank you to Netgalley and Page Street Publishing for a Digital Review Copy for review. This comes out January 15 but you can pre order it, or put it on hold at your local library today!

Reviewer's Name: 
Tawnie

Book Review: Vassa in the Night

Vassa in the Night
Author: 
Porter, Sarah
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

In this wildly imaginative and wacky story, the main character Vassa and her trusty living doll Erg must survive the dangers of a magical Brooklyn, convenience store, and the possibility of beheading. This story takes a modern and dark take on the Russian folktale "Vassilissa the Beautiful" as Vassa struggles with who she is and what she wants from the world. I found this book very interesting because it is much different from many of the other books I have read. This story is odd, quirky, and disconcerting to a degree as for a while you have no idea what is going on. The whole book almost seems to be an odd delusion or hallucination. I enjoyed reading this book because I am so used to flat or normal stories that have a clear indication of whats going on and it was fun to have to think and question what was going on.

Reviewer's Name: 
Maddie K.
Awards: 

Book Review: Spinning Silver

Spinning Silver
Author: 
Novik, Naomi
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

***THIS BOOK WAS RECEIVED FROM THE PUBLISHER***

About seven years ago, there seemed to be a renaissance of fairy tale retellings and reimagining that swept through popular culture. From television shows like Once Upon a Time and Grimm to movies like Snow White and the Huntsman (2012) and Mirror Mirror (2012) to the books of Melanie Dickerson, it seemed that wherever you turned, you could find someone’s different take on classic fairy tales. While perhaps a little outside this bubble of pop culture, Spinning Silver has the benefit of standing out in a field of genre books that seems to have cooled in recent years.

Based partially on the story of Rumpelstiltskin, author Naomi Novik has masterfully combined elements of Jewish and Russian folklore to reimagine this story from a somewhat more modern perspective while also maintaining its fairytale settings and tropes. If anything, her strong and independent female characters highlight how chauvinistic the original fairy tales seem when compared to the culture we’re living in today. I appreciated how smart the story is, taking the concept of “turning silver into gold” from a merely economical standpoint and turning it on its head by adding in fantastical elements more akin to alchemy.

While the point of view of this book jumped around from a few of the characters, I found the interconnectedness of their stories to be incredibly well done. I probably would have left out the old woman’s POV, since it didn’t add anything other than some unnecessary backstory, but other than that, each character’s storyline had its own tone, challenges, and uniqueness to make the entire plot a well-rounded affair. Writing the story in this way helped to humanize antagonists, provide the terror of poverty, and show plenty of character growth throughout the characters. Even the fact that the “simple” solution of the climax wasn’t the best solution for the characters speaks to the depth of thinking that went into this brilliant plot.

An intelligent and well-written fairy tale reimagining, I give Spinning Silver 4.5 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: 
Benjamin M. Weilert

Book Review: Fairest

Fairest
Author: 
Meyer, Marissa
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

The book "Fairest" by Marissa Meyer is actually a prequel to "The Lunar Chronicles," but (to me) is meant to be read AFTER reading the main four books. This book is all about Queen Levana, the main antagonist of "The Lunar Chronicles." The story shows the reader all the reasons why she is the way she is, and shows us the events that happened to start the series. "Fairest" is about The Evil Queen, who brought the most grief to the "princesses" of the first four books.

Overall, the book is a very good read after reading the main four books. Reading the book before may be confusing. The characterization of Queen Levana is truly amazing, as more often than not, antagonists are not given enough character, and are not explained well. Some aspects of the story are predictable if you have already read the series, but not all scenes are. This book answers many questions about Queen Levana, and is definitely worth the read.

*Do note that "Fairest" was published before "Winter" and that you can read all of the side books in whatever order you like.

Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: 
Paige P.

Book Review: Winter

Winter
Author: 
Meyer, Marissa
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

As a continuation and last book from "The Lunar Chronicles," "Winter" by Marissa Meyer is truly just as good as the past three books in the series.
This book is another re-imagining of the old fairy tale Snow White, but is written in such a way that it is barely recognize that aspect unless you knew before. Winter, the protagonist of this story, is a lunar who refuses to use her naturally gifted powers, and it is slowly driving her crazy. Many consider her to be the most beautiful lunar there is. As the crazy daughter of the queen, she allowed to live. Well, that's as long as nobody likes her more than the queen.

Overall, the story is very well written, and a great last book. The books answers many unsolved mysteries, and ties up everything nicely. The characters are once again very well characterized, and the ending is as enjoyable as an ending to get. All chapters continue to move the plot, and there aren't too many extra ideas. Truly a great end to "The Lunar Chronicles," which is worth the read.

Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: 
Paige P.

Book Review: Cress

Cress
Author: 
Meyer, Marissa
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

The book "Cress" by Marissa Meyer is a big twist of the fairy tale "Rapunzel," where the character Cress Moon Darnel is introduced in a remote satellite that she has lived in for many years of her life. Cress has not left for years, and kept herself sane by programming her own voice into an AI. When she is contacted by Cinder and her crew, she sees not just hope, but also a very attractive pilot named Carswell Thorne. This encounter with Linh Cinder begins Cress' journey to Earth, and her pursuit of saving the other Lunars of the world.

This book is a great read for those who enjoy fantasy, science fiction, action, and well balanced romance. The book, just like its predecessors, is excellently written. The amount of characters have increased significantly since the first book in "The Lunar Chronicles," yet each character from before has grown, and the new characters are just as in-depth. The conflicts are rising, and the stakes are growing higher and higher. As the book pushes the protagonists to the main antagonist, the plot and characters never weaken. Overall, the book was relatively unpredictable, and had many turns that just added to the story. Like in the other books, all of the characters had relatable traits and conflicts, which continued to make the story better.
"Cress" is truly one of the best books for characters and creativity, and continuing "The Lunar Chronicles."

Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: 
Paige P.

Book Review: Scarlet

Scarlet
Author: 
Meyer, Marissa
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

The book "Scarlet" by Marissa Meyer is a twist of "Little Red Riding Hood," where the main character, Scarlet Benoit, lived with her grandmother until her grandmother disappears. While the police force have given up the search for Scarlet's grandmother, Scarlet is determined to find her, believing that her grandmother was kidnapped rather than ran away. She meets a man named Wolf at work, where her living situation is turned upside down after she pronounces her belief that Linh Cinder was innocent. The road is long and hard, but Scarlet WILL find her grandmother by any means possible.

This book is an amazing read for those who interest in fantasy, a mix of science fiction, action, and romance. Just like the first book "Cinder," "Scarlet" is just as amazingly written as its predecessor. As part of "The Lunar Chronicles," this book continues to show the readers more about the world, and begins showing the secrets of the main characters and antagonist.

The books is exceptional with its characters, chapters, and conflicts. It makes sure that all action is balanced and realistic. Some parts of the story were predictable, such as the romance, but the obstacles the couple faces, along with the conflicts with everyone else are unpredictable enough to make the story interesting. The main characters are relatable, yet so unique. This story, along with the rest of the series, is one of the best books for excellent fantasy and storytelling.

Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: 
Paige P.

Book Review: Cinder

Cinder
Author: 
Meyer, Marissa
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

"Cinder" is a twist of the old fairy tale "Cinderella," where the main character, Cinder, has a step-mother, two sisters, and cyborg parts attached to her body (much to the citizens of New Bejing's disgust). Cinder is a mechanic who does work for her step-mother along with her companion Iko, and she has dreams of leaving her step-mother's home, though she stays for her sister Peony.

Cinder meets the prince of New Beijing, Prince Kaito. She finds that Kai is a very attractive person, just as everyone in the city says, but also finds her attention turned toward unfortunate event after unfortunate event. Her world changes when her sister contracts the deadly disease, letumosis.

Overall, this book is truly a wonderful book for both romance and action. While the plot is a twist of the story "Cinderella," Marissa Meyer does an excellent job of making the idea extremely unique to the point that the book hardly seems like a twist of Cinderella. The amount of action; internal and external conflicts; and in-depth relationships are written in an exciting way that makes every chapter worth reading. Since this is the first book in "The Lunar Chronicles," "Cinder" sets up the main conflicts and first main characters for the rest of the series exceptionally well. While the main protagonists are very likable and relatable, the main antagonist is truly twisted and very well written with the knowledge that is given in the first book. The book was rarely predictable, and is an amazing piece of fiction.

This book, along with the rest of the series, is one of the best books for both great characters and a unique story idea.
Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: 
Paige P.

Book Review: Scarlet

Scarlet
Author: 
Meyer, Marissa
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

Scarlet by Marissa Meyer is the thrilling sequel to Cinder. Scarlet is a continuation of Cinder’s story while retelling another fairytale, Little Red Riding Hood. Generally, I feel like the sequels are never as good as the original, but that was not the case for this book. Scarlet was definitely my favorite book in the entire series (besides Winter). I fell completely in love with the new characters (especially Scarlet). Marissa Meyer has a talent for creating likable and relatable characters. She also has a talent for describing the setting. Cinder took place in Beijing while Scarlet took place in France. Meyer illustrated France just as vividly as she illustrated Beijing. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys science fiction or anyone who enjoyed Cinder.

Reviewer's Name: 
Sophie L.

Book Review: Cinder

Cinder
Author: 
Meyer, Marissa
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

Cinder by Marissa Meyer is a fast-paced and action-packed book that you can't put down. The book is a futuristic and dystopian retelling of the classic fairytale, Cinderella. This is definitely one of my favorite books. You won't find another science fiction book with as many interesting and diverse female characters. The book has a very exciting plot that kept me on the edge of my seat. In addition to that, Cinder has many amazing characters. I couldn't pick my favorite one. All of the characters are lovable and distinct. Another aspect of the book that I enjoyed was the setting. I loved Meyer’s vision of what the future would look like. She described the setting perfectly. I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in science fiction or fantasy genres.

Reviewer's Name: 
Sophie L.

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