Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Never Cry Werewolf by Heather Davis

Never Cry Werewolf

I got a kick out of Heather Davis's Never Cry Werewolf, a twisted Red Riding Hood variant that self-acknowledges its origins. When Shelby gets sent to a "brat camp" for the summer in response to her inclination to act up and spend more time on boys than homework, she almost immediately begins helping out another guy, without worrying about the consequences to herself. But maybe this time she should worry about herself, as there's much more to Austin than is immediately apparent.

The tone of this book was light and funny. I think part of why I liked it was all of the heavy vampire melodrama we're seeing in the media these days -- this book was refreshingly amusing and werewolf-centric. The story is mainly a teen romance, but without the bogged-down overemotional angst of a lot of the current teen romance genre. My main problem with the book, in fact, was that it was such a quick read -- I wouldn't have minded going into a little more depth about the characters and their time together.

Check out more about Heather Davis at her website. She's got another book out, which doesn't seem to be as fairy tale oriented, but I liked this one enough to put it on my to-be-read list!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Isis by Douglas Clegg

Isis isn't as much of a direct fairy tale retelling as what I normally review here, but it does involve an element of Egyptian mythology, so I thought I would include it in case any of you were interested.

Iris is a young girl who loses her brother in a tragic accident. That same accident opens her up to possibilities she had previous been unaware of. The "open window" in her soul allows her to access mystical forces that she couldn't reach before -- and probably shouldn't reach now.


Described as "a tale of sibling love gone awry," this story is definitely scarier than the average book on my reading list. Not in a gory or gratuitous way, but the creep-factor definitely got to me in the end.

Check out more of Douglas Clegg's work at his website.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Ice by Sarah Beth Durst

Ice, by Sarah Beth Durst is a retelling of one of my favorite fairy tales: East of the Sun, West of the Moon. In this version, Cassie is a young woman working with her father in an arctic research station near the North Pole. She's grown up hearing the fairy tale of how her mother was the North Wind's daughter, and when she fell in love, the Polar Bear King tried to hide her from the North Wind. When the Wind found her, he whisked her away to the land of the trolls.

Now Cassie's understanding is that this is a stand-in story for her mother's death, until one day she meets an enormous polar bear, and her understanding of the way the world works, and her own place in it, will be put to the test.


It took me a little while to get into Cassie's super-scientific mindset, but when I did, I unreservedly loved this book. Although it could easily be aimed at middle-level readers, there is enough depth of characters and plot to appeal to more mature readers, as well. I also really loved Durst's reinterpretation of the trolls and their place in the story (as someone who enjoys more ambiguous "bad guys"). I only wished for another chapter or two at the end! It was a 2009 Andre Norton Award finalist, as well, if my review isn't enough to convince you!

Read more about Sarah Beth Durst and her other fairy tale books at her website.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

A Kiss in Time by Alex Flinn

A Kiss In Time

I quite enjoyed Alex Flinn's Beastly, so I was excited to pick up her take on Sleeping Beauty, A Kiss in Time. (Which, by the way, great title, incorporating the time of the spell, the kiss to break the spell, and just a hint of an allusion to sewing, evoking the expression "a stitch in time," which of course ties into the whole spinning/thread/sewing aspect of the original story and Flinn's retelling.)

This tale was a little lighter than Beastly, which I think explores a little more of the dark nature of humanity as the Beast struggles to understand himself and his situation. A Kiss in Time is definitely more about the nature of romance and love, and while the characters do go through some personal discoveries, there's definitely more humor (as a girl whose been asleep for a hundred years discovers the modern world!)

Definitely recommended if you're looking for a light, fun read. The nice thing about this is that, with the original tale, and quite a few of the retellings I've read, there seems to be some idea that the world hasn't changed that much during the time Sleeping Beauty is asleep. But when you think about how many changes there have been in the last 100 years.... Alex Flinn's tale is well worth reading.

Check out more of Alex Flinn's books and adaptations at her website: http://www.alexflinn.com/

The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan

Although we focus a lot on European folklore in this community, there are of course mythologies in every ancient culture. Which is why I'm pretty excited about Rick Riordan's new series, which focuses on the Egyptians and starts with his recently released The Red Pyramid

The Red Pyramid

This is aimed at mid-grade readers, and is about as consistent as the Percy Jackson stories. (Starts out very exciting, gets a little slow in the middle, finishes with a bang.) I definitely recommend it if you enjoyed the previous series. This one is nice because the narrative goes back and forth between the two siblings, so you get some of Sadie's perspective and some of Carter's.

If there are other stories that are adaptations of Egyptians mythology and tales, I'm not familiar with them, although according to The Red Pyramid, "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" is based on an Egyptian story. Does anyone know any other modernizations or adaptations of Egyptian stories?