Cinder the Fireplace Boy
by Ana Mardoll
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Pub Date 04 Jan 2022 | Archive Date 01 Jan 2022
Once upon a time there lived... a beautiful prince who kissed a frog. A cinder-smudged child who hid a secret. A princess who climbed a long braid of golden hair for love. A thumb-sized boy with the courage of a giant. And a valiant little tailor whose wit was as sharp as her needle.
These stories and many more await you in this delightful collection of classic fairy tales, lovingly retold and featuring characters who receive wonderfully queer happily-ever-afters! Let these new takes on the Brothers Grimm warm your heart and nurture your yearning to see yourself reflected in beloved favorites.
Features eight original illustrations by artist Alex Dingley.
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 42 members
I love the inclusiveness of this book. All the retelling of different stories is wonderful, and I hope this becomes a classic along with the originals. It deserves to be. I have always loved fairytales, and I love this one as well. Thank you netgalley.
(I will be posting on goodreads as well)
I am choosing not to rate this book because it was unfortunately not what I expected, given the description, and I could only bring myself to read about half of the ~30 stories. I don't want to discourage people from reading this, but I want them to know what they're getting in for.
Previously, I have enjoyed fairytale and mythological retellings that take childhood/classic stories and explore them from different viewpoints (like Snow, Glass, Apples), greater historical context (She Who Became the Sun), or deeper richness (Song of Achilles). However, this collection of stories is none of the above. The stories are told in the same, children's fairytale level of language and depth, except that the characters have different gender identities or sexual orientation. The stories - at least from the half I read - have not had the basic plot or perspective changed, either. I'm not sure if this is intended to be children's literature, but it reads that way, though it wasn't labelled that way when I selected it.
When I saw the description of "new takes on the Brothers Grimm" and "classic fairy tales, lovingly retold and featuring characters who receive wonderfully queer happily-ever-afters," I was hoping for something like rewriting The Little Mermaid (yes, that's Hans Christian Andersen but just as an example) to bring the subtextual queerness into text and explore what it means for a queer person to give up their voice in exchange for the appearance of normalcy in order to gain acceptance. "New takes", these stories are not, not really.
Thank you to Netgalley for this free digital copy in exchange for my honest review.
I greatly enjoyed this collection of fairy tale re-tellings! Some stories were retold with gender-swapped characters, and others with non-binary characters. Some stories included loving, supportive parents, and others did not.
This collection was inclusive and very well put together, with a great range of LGBTQIAP+ representation. Before each and every tale, each character's pronouns are listed, as well as any applicable content notes, which I think is a wonderful idea.
Ana Mardoll masterfully weaves the stories that we know into familiar, glittering reminders that we all deserve a happy ending in this collection of retold fairytales, Cinder the Fireplace Boy.
I don't know how xie they did, but xie perfectly captured the feeling of reading these stories for the first time as a child, particularly with Rapunzel, The Frog Prince, and Cinder. Staring each story with a list of used pronouns, Mardoll threads updated lessons about consent and gender. It's such a relief to read an old narrative style with these themes. Not only that, but xie writes it well by also sprinkling familiar world-building from the general folklore. (ie. Salt and pure water as protection against a faery.)
If anything, I wish xie had written more, going beyond Grimm's usual canon and - hopefully - might one day turn some of these into full-length novels. Hint, hint... Much like Mardoll's previous anthology, No Man of Woman Born, this is an excellent primer on how fairytales can be rewoven and a testament to xir work.
NetGalley provided an ARC. All opinions are my own.