Friday, July 19, 2019

Book Review: Fierce Fairytales

Fierce Fairytales: Poems and Stories to Stir Your SoulFierce Fairytales: Poems and Stories to Stir Your Soul by Nikita Gill

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The idea is good, the illustrations gorgeous but the last 1/3 of the collection is just a big giant bash against men with no real fairytale link at all. It’s really too bad Nikita Gill can’t seem to understand that not all men are awful. The last few poems are very disturbing to me considering they are the most likely to be remembered (being last). It's too bad because many of the poems near the beginning of this compilation are solid, strong takes on known stories.

Great Pacing & Feel
Gill gives us some wonderful quotes and moments in Fierce Fairytales throughout her (very) short stories and poem snippets. She has taken known fairy tales (some from around the world) and given them a darker or more realistic spin.
One example of that writing that really stood out to me (being as I have a medicated Anxiety disorder) is:
"Anxiety makes more heroes than history would care to repeat. It is better than sitting and waiting, letting the demon claw into your mind with worry. Anxious people are resourceful, they need to know how to keep the sea of panic at bay so they do not drown.”
This resonated as very true for me. Some people tell me I’m brave. But I’m really not, I just can’t stand not knowing or waiting to find something out. My lack of ability to breathe, be patient and not panic is a detriment and shows weakness more so than anything. Although I will agree with the resourcefulness comment. I have gotten good at distracting myself, calming myself down, or otherwise finding a way to not pass-out or show external signs of any given panic attack I may be having.

Pretty Isn't Enough
The idea of updating fairy tales or poems and putting them in a gorgeously bound (and illustrated) book for children/teens is wonderful. The actual production of this book is amazing. I would have cherished it as a child just for how pretty it is; even if I didn't like all the stories. I think there is probably something here for everyone; but unfortunately you have to navigate a lot of obnoxious, in your face rhetoric to find it. Gill starts us out with the tamer stories and sets the tone and mood. She lures the reader into buying into her ideas, stories and verse. Only to take the last quarter of this book bashing, and I mean declaring all out war on, men. I didn't like this. It felt too overt and just too nasty to teach children or teens.
Being upset about the inequality to date in our world is not really a useful thing to teach our children. What we need to teach them is how to stand up for themselves and speak out against those that are treating women (or others) inappropriately. This doesn't require us to fear-monger or make like all men in this world are awful. At one point I felt like maybe Gill was building a new lesbian army of teens to take over the world; that's how all out awful a lot of the last poems/stories were. Just unnecessary in my mind and not productive.

Were it not for the last quarter of the book this would probably get a four star rating from me; but I struggle to even give it three stars given how much I disliked the last few passages. Gill needed an editor or publisher that spoke up about how any boy/man that picks up her book is likely to be put off by the end. And perhaps needed to hear, in advance of publication, that many women don't take kindly to generic bashing of males. I would love to give this book to two little girls I know in order to have them use their imagination when it comes to Disney or modern-day interpretations of fairy tales; but I'd have to rip out the last few pages. Given the children know how much I love books that would cause all kinds of questions. So instead I will leave Fierce Fairytales off my gifting list and be conscious of the rhetoric around me that all the lovely children in my life (none of which are my own) may be subject to on any given day.
In order to really be an equal society we must get over our anger and remove the chip on our shoulder. The only way to true equality is to work together to level the playing field; not to get revenge and one-up anyone over anyone else. I'm disappointed that the overall point and end of Fierce Fairytales was clearly that we women need to take control of everything over our male peers.

Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review.

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1 comment:

Leonore Winterer said...

I think your 'chapter' heading of 'Pretty Isn't Enough' is quite ironic, given that part of the take-away message of this book is probably meant to be 'It's not enough for a princess to just look pretty'! I really dislike this men-bashing as well...there's awful men and awesome women, and vice versa; teaching anything else to out kids would just be hypocrisy.
Do you know 'The Paper Bag Princess' by Robert Munsch? Now that's a feminist fairytale you can actually read to little girls! (Although the prince isn't too awesome in that one as well).