I received an ARC copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
‘Heroes are meant
to be forged golden
from the blaze.’
I was very excited when I got approved for this book. It has all my favorite things in the title: feminism (yay!) and fairytales (yay!). And that cover? Swoon-worthy. The reading experience, however, was more… meh. The concept is good, it’s just not executed as well as it should be. The themes are repetitive, and nothing is structured or cohesive. This is supposed to be about fairytales, but then we take a turn into reality, dealing with eating disorders (that particular poem hit a little close to home) and then we jump back into fairytales. Some of it works, most of it doesn’t, at least for me.
The word choices are also a little bizarre. For example, in ‘Why the Sun Rises and Sets’ she speaks about 'cinnamon people' and that just made me uncomfortable. There’s this entire debate that people of color’s skin shouldn’t be described with food because it fetishizes and dehumanizes them. Another word like “amber,” for example could've been used here instead.
I also struggled a lot in particular with the short stories. The “lesson” behind each is anything but subtle, it hits you over the head with its message over and over again. You see this clearly in ‘Two Misunderstood Sisters.’ She creates backstories for some Disney villains (like Gaston and Ursula and Lady Tremaine) and again, I think this is poorly executed. She plays with the theme that no one is born evil, that evil is learned because of untreated trauma or wounds, and I kinda get it, but it also seems like she’s excusing their behavior? This is particularly displayed in ‘How a hero becomes a villain’ which is Gaston’s poem.
Not everything is bad, though. I enjoyed ‘An Older and Wiser Little Mermaid Speaks.’ This poem is what expected this book to be like. It’s powerful, and it’s evocative, in a way that the rest of the material wasn’t for me.