Spring may be already on the way in some parts of the world, but in Thailand summer is in full swing, and only the occasional breeze can save the days from being uncomfortably hot. This is the mango season, my favorite tropical fruit, but also the time for magic, fairy tales, folklore and fantasy stories.
Carl from stainlesssteeldroppings is hosting the Once Upon a Time VIII challenge which starts today and runs until June 21st. I’ve been waiting for this event since January and collected some interesting books over the last few months.
My friend Vishy recommended The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter and the blurb on the first page makes me want to start reading it right away:
“From familiar fairy tales and legends – Red Riding Hood, Bluebeard, Puss-in-Boots, beauty and the Beast, vampires, werewolves – Angela Carter has created an absorbing collection of dark and sensual stories. Her hypnotic prose breathes new life into these enduring tales, every bit as haunting and disarming here as when encountered for the first time.”
I’ve also discovered Poison by Sarah Pinborough which is a retelling of Snow White. This beautiful hard cover gem is a work of art in itself, just wait until you see that first page.
It’s Snow White, but not as you know her…
Take a wicked queen, a handsome prince, a beautiful princess, and a poisoned apple…
…and now read the true story of Snow White, told the way it always should have been…”
Another book I’m excited about (and currently reading because I had just finished Doctor Sleep by Stephen King and just could not wait) is The Golem and the Djinni by Helene Wecker. I saw this one while browsing online but can’t remember where. I don’t know anything about golems and very little about djinnis (apart from the stories in the Arabian Nights) so I decided to give this book a try and so far I’m really enjoying it.
“New York, 1899:
Chava is a golem, a creature made of clay, brought to life by a Jewish rabbi. When her master dies on the voyage from Poland, she arrives alone in an unknown city.
Ahmad is a djinni, a being of fire, trapped for centuries and brought back to life by Arbeely, an impoverished tinsmith who invites him to stay in his workshop in Lower Manhattan.
Together, experiencing freedom for the first time, they form the most unlikely of friendships. But a powerful threat will soon test their bond driving them back into their own worlds and forcing them to make a fateful choice.”
The Djinn in the Nightingale’s Eye by A.S. Byatt is a collection of five short stories:
The Glass Coffin
The Story of the Eldest Princess
The Djinn in the Nightingale’s Eye
A few years ago I read Possession by the same author and enjoyed the book so much that I jumped at the chance to read more of her work.
Fate by L.R. Fredericks
Three years ago I read a book called Farundell, the first book in a series. I loved the name and the cover, and the book proved to be equally great and I was so in love with it that I wrote to the author and requested a short interview. You can read it here. Fate is the second book in the series but both can be read as standalone novels. I’ve been waiting to read this one ever since it was published in 2012. This blurb is from goodreads.com:
“Death and Beauty, Magic and Science: Lord Francis Damory’s Quest for the Elixir of Immortality
In the brothels and debtors’ prisons of Georgian London and the gilded salons of the Ancien Règime…
Through love affairs and deadly duels, among courtesans and castrati, alchemists and anatomists, visionaries, monsters, charlatans and spies…
From Paris to Venice and across the pirate-infested Mediterranean to Egypt, Cyprus and distant Constantinople in pursuit of his mysterious ancestor Tobias the Alchemist, who may yet still be alive.”
Russian Magic Tales from Pushkin to Platonov, a Penguin Classics book. The descriptions of the tales in this book seem vaguely familiar. I may have read something similar as a child. I am intrigued.
“In these tales, young women go on long and difficult quests, wicked stepmothers turn children into geese and tsars ask dangerous riddles, with help or hindrance from magical dolls, cannibal witches, talking skulls, stolen wives, and brothers disguised as wise birds. Half the tales here are true oral tales, collected by folklorists during the last two centuries, while the others are reworkings of oral tales by four great Russian writers: Alexander Pushkin, Nadezhda Teffi, Pavel Bazhov and Andrey Platonov.”
Angelology by Danielle Trussoni
I’ve had this book on my radar for a while but didn’t actually buy it until I realized it would fit in perfectly with the themes of this challenge. Like The Golem and the Djinni, it’s over 600 pages long. I can’t wait to see what this story is really about.
“Abandoned as a child on the steps of the St Rose Convent in New York, Evangeline Cacciatore grew up knowing little of her parents. Assisting a scholar in the convent one day, she uncovers a disturbing secret connected to her family. It relates to a sinister discovery in the Bulgarian mountains: a beautiful humanlike body impervious to decay. Who is it? And what has it to do with her parents?”