Blackberry Blue and Other Fairy Tales

by Jamila Gavin | Science Fiction & Fantasy |
ISBN: 9781848531079 Global Overview for this book
Registered by wingGoryDetailswing of Nashua, New Hampshire USA on 3/27/2021
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Journal Entry 1 by wingGoryDetailswing from Nashua, New Hampshire USA on Saturday, March 27, 2021
I found this UK-edition softcover in this Little Free Library in Swampscott MA while dropping off some books of my own. It's a collection of short stories inspired by the tropes in traditional European fairy tales, but recombined to make new tales with a more diverse set of characters. Among my favorites:

"Blackberry Blue," the title story, mixes elements from "Cinderella" and magical-baby tales to form an entrancing adventure. The child found in a dense thicket of blackberry brambles has skin black as midnight, lips like crushed damsons, and tightly-curled hair shining like threads of black gold, and she becomes the light in the life of the woodcutter and his wife who find her. The bramble patch where she was found bears prolific and excellent fruit, which the family use to make pies that become quite popular - attracting the attention of the king, who has just remarried to a woman with a son of her own, one who is busily trying to replace the king's own son. There are a series of balls, an attempt on the life of the good prince by the evil one, and much aid to Blackberry Blue from the enchanted bramble patch (whose origins I'd deduced early on in the story, but still appreciated when the big reveal came). Lots of familiar tropes here, with highly satisfying variations and some lush scenes.

"The Purple Lady" is a much darker story, set in a world where the mysterious Purple Lady steals young people who are never seen again. A youth named Abu has taken the bus to the city, its route going past the Purple Lady's home, something everyone knows and everyone fears; even though many other passengers also seek lost loved ones, they're afraid to do anything more than ride past the place and peer out the windows. But Abu is determined, and - with the aid of his sister's clever cat - finds a wise woman who offers him a way to retrieve his sister. But there's a price... This one has truly terrifying elements, and if there is a triumphant conclusion it does require a sacrifice.

"Oddboy" opens with a magician kidnapping a beggar boy for the sake of the lad's skill on his musical instrument. He crafts a special violin for the boy to play, ornamenting it inside with the lush and colorful scenes of the boy's homeland, and offers to give it to him if he'll come away with the magician and play for him. But once in the magician's land, the boy learns that he can only leave if he dares to pass down the mountain through the mist - and if he does that he'll lose his voice... Of course he does wind up leaving, drawn by the sounds of happy villagers enjoying each other's company, and he does lose his voice, but his music finds him a home with an old blind man and the man's grandson. But the grandson is jealous of the boy's talent, so much greater than his own, and this leads to strife and a tragedy - yet there's redemption here as well. I appreciated the use of adopted-sibling-rivalry, magical musical envy, and the colorful setting.

I enjoyed the other stories as well, a nicely-varied and atmospheric collection.

There are charming illustrations throughout, and some interesting experiments with typesetting: in places, the text is placed in swirling or drooping forms to match the content, such as a line about "long grey locks tumbling from her head like writhing snakes" where "writhing snakes" is actually writhing!

Journal Entry 2 by wingGoryDetailswing at Little Free Library, Benson Park in Hudson, New Hampshire USA on Tuesday, May 04, 2021

Released 2 days ago (5/4/2021 5:00 PM UTC) at Little Free Library, Benson Park in Hudson, New Hampshire USA

WILD RELEASE NOTES:

Guidelines for safely visiting and stocking Little Free Libraries during the COVID-19 pandemic, from the LFL site here.

Just learned that the Benson Park Little Free Library is back in place, so I'm planning to drop off some books. Hope someone enjoys them!

[See other recent releases in NH here.]

*** Released for the 2021 April Showers/May Flowers challenge. ***

*** Released for the 20 Years of BookCrossing challenge. ***

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