Author: Nikita Gills
Genre: Prose, Poetry
Publisher: French Flaps
Date published: September 11th 2018
Page Count: 208
Traditional fairytales are rife with cliches and gender stereotypes: beautiful, silent princesses; ugly, jealous, and bitter villainesses; girls who need rescuing; and men who take all the glory.
But in this rousing new prose and poetry collection, Nikita Gill gives Once Upon a Time a much-needed modern makeover. Through her gorgeous reimagining of fairytale classics and spellbinding original tales, she dismantles the old-fashioned tropes that have been ingrained in our minds. In this book, gone are the docile women and male saviors. Instead, lines blur between heroes and villains. You will meet fearless princesses, a new kind of wolf lurking in the concrete jungle, and an independent Gretel who can bring down monsters on her own.
Complete with beautifully hand-drawn illustrations by Gill herself, Fierce Fairytales is an empowering collection of poems and stories for a new generation.
Fierce Fairytales is a beautiful collection of retellings of stories that we all know so well. Nikita Gill puts such an interesting twist to it that it sometimes makes it even more interesting than the original. Although the poems and prose are about fairy tales, the writing does speak to the readers and relate to present times and brings up issues that matter to us.
What’s unique about Gills’ retellings are that, instead of changing the plot, she focuses more on changing the perspective of the characters in the story and revealing their emotions and thoughts. While the plot remained mostly untouched, the characters revealed their pain and suffering after the happily ever after or the impetus that propelled them into the once upon a time. And I loved it.
There were quite a few stories that I really enjoyed and stuck to me. This collection brings all these fairytales to the present through lacing the stories with issues that matter to us.
Unlike the “perfect” fairytales we know and love:
- not all heroes stay good, and not all villains were once bad
- love does wither away
- sometimes hatred stems from unrequited love
- there’s more than one wolf to blow down your heart-shaped house
The story tries to find strength in its female characters, but also acknowledges the vulnerability of its men. And this was a point that I really loved and I don’t think is brought up enough. In our fairytales, all good men are portrayed as strong and unscarred, as if with no ghosts of the past. Gills tries to debunk that. She truly does do a modern makeover for the fairytales.
Some of my favourite stories in the collection were:
- A Universal Truth
- Boy Lost (Peter Pan)
- The Hatter (Alice in Wonderland)
- Jack’s Fable Unfalsified
- Seven (Snow White)
- Gretel after Hansel
All in all, I found it a really enjoyable read and absolutely loved the drawings that accompanied the stories. As a retellings fan, this is one of my favourite compilations because of the way the retellings were approached. One of the things that most fairytales lack is the relatedness of the characters. It isn’t the plot the really needs to be changed, but the message that it’s trying to give. I think this book does just that.
Thoughts, ideas, comments? Let me know in the comments below!