Tuesday, November 19, 2013

REVIEW: Ice by Sarah Beth Durst

by Sarah Beth Durst

“She had a hundred reasons: because Bear had carved a statue of her in the center of the topiary garden, because she could always make him laugh, because he'd let her return to the station, because he won at chess and lost at hockey, because he ran as fast as he could to polar bear births, because he had seal breath even as a human, because his hands were soft, because he was her Bear. "Because I want my husband back," Cassie said.” 

Cassie has lived her whole life in her family's arctic research station. Her world is ice and science and tagging polar bears and survival. Her grandmother had told her fairy tales about her mother, the adopted daughter of the North Wind, who was supposed to marry the Polar Bear King but married a mortal instead. The North Wind was so angry that he threw the mother into the land of the trolls, never to be seen again. When Cassie grew up, she realized these were just stories to make her feel better about her mother's death. That is, until the Polar Bear King comes to claim Cassie as his wife. After agreeing to rescue her mother, Bear whisks Cassie away to his ice castle at the North Pole. She and Bear slowly and deeply fall in love, but when Cassie betrays Bear and he is torn from her side, she must brave the frozen wasteland to find him again.

To read more, see my review at Palimpsest.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Fairy Tale and Mythology Round Up: Fairy Tales as Literary Crack, Modern Reds, the Bullied Cinderella, Mythic Assholes, Norse vs Marvel Mythology, and Christmas Fairy Tales

It looks like November is another crazy month for me, so I am a little behind in my fairy tale news. Here is a digest of the interesting things I have found so far!

1) Catherynne M. Valente Speaks on Fairy Tales at NY ComicCon
Once Upon a Blog directed our attention to the wisdom of one of my favorite authors, Catherynne M. Valente who wrote The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making and The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Lead the Revels There. At NY ComicCon this year, Ms. Valente said:

"Here's the thing about fairy tales... They are the best-edited stories of all time... boiled down, espresso-like stories that go straight to the back of your reptile brain."

I love that idea. They are like sea stones, rolled around in the surf of hundreds or thousands of years to be stripped down to the essentials, the truths span all of time.


2) Post Victorian Little Red Riding Hood
Tales of Faerie, as ever an pillar of fairy tale scholarship, distills Jack Zipes' The Trials and Tribulations of Little Red Riding Hood into a blog post exploration of what Red Riding Hood symbolizes in the modern age. She discusses how it is used to underline political, ecological, and gender equality issues, as well as more traditional interpretations.


Cinderella’s stepmom and stepsisters were SO mean.

The YALSA (Young Adult Library Services Association) had an excellent blog post about how Cinderella is a story about bullies. The special thing about Cinderella in comparison with other bully stories is that it doesn't dwell on the bullies. The bullies are an obstacle that Cinderella must face as she takes her destiny in to her own hands. 
"The stories I like—whether on my library shelves or playing out in my own neighborhood—are the ones where our teens don’t relinquish their pens to the bullies. They get help, stop it, or endure despite the high cost. But they go on writing their own story, singing their own song, toward a happily ever after that stands separate and apart from the attacks against them."

4) The Biggest Assholes in Greek Mythology
 The gloriously irreverent Io9 has created yet another hilarious list, the biggest assholes in Greek mythology, and Zeus is at the top of the list. The first half of the list sticks with the known assholes, but then we get into more obscure people, like Ixion, who pushed his father-in-law onto a bed of hot coals, went insane, tried to have sex with Hera, and ended up having sex with a cloud.


Io9, snarky as ever, lists the many..not so much errors, but differences between the Marvel Asgard and the old Norse Asgard. It makes me want to sit by the fire on a winter night and read some eddas. I do miss the clever, tricky wanderer Odin and the mischievous Loki and the doofus Thor and my favorite nightmare creature, Fenrir.


Apparently Christmas = Fairy Tales at Marks and Spencers! Here is a cute ad for their store that leads you through Alice in Wonderland, Little Red, the Wizard of Oz (with a female Tin Man and Lion), Hansel and Gretel and Arabian Nights. With a special cameo from Helena Bonham Carter! Once Upon a Blog has background and commentary.

That is all for now, though I have a lot more coming up!