“Her name was Rhea.”
Re-tellings and re-imaginings of fairy tales have been all the rage for quite a while now, and to be honest, if you’re feeling a little bored of all that then I don’t blame you. But perhaps you could put that aside for just a few minutes, and consider T.Kingfisher – the pseudonym for the wondrous Ursula Vernon’s not-for-kids work – and this charming little tale.
For a start, it really helps that the fairy tale in question isn’t one of the obvious ones. Bluebeard is a typically nasty children’s tale, about a serial groom and his string of vanished wives. Kingfisher’s version adds a good twist to the idea, a large dollop of magic, and a hedgehog.
While this definitely isn’t for younger readers, as per Ursula Vernon’s e.g. Hamster Princess series, it inhabits that odd place between that and a ‘grown up’ book. It’s still very much in the fairy-tale realm, with an added dark sensibility. If I had to compare it to anything, it’d be Neil Gaiman, and possibly his slightly younger-skewed work. Which is a compliment!
Although the ending felt a very little flat compared to the bulk of the book, and I can see how I’d have to be ‘in the mood’ again to really enjoy the style, I did love the language and telling enough to want to go and buy the rest of the T. Kingfisher catalog.
eARC from NetGalley: 183 pages / 29 chapters
First published: 2015
Series: could be linked together with Bryony and Roses and The Raven and the Reindeer
Read from 18th-20th February 2016
My rating: 7/10