I have to admit I hadn’t heard of Jane Yolen before this collection. Just how I have managed to miss her will remain a mystery but I was immediately drawn to HOW TO FRACTURE A FAIRY TALE on its premise alone. I have always thought of fairy tales as a mirror. They reflect our reality but twist it ever so slightly, thereby revealing deeper truths we can’t see in our own lives. Sometimes the morals of these fairy tales are very clear, sometimes fairy tales have been so twisted to make them more “appropriate” that hardly anything remains of them.
In HOW TO FRACTURE A FAIRY TALE, Yolen employs all the necessary tools to keep readers engaged. Her stories are funny, outrageous, epic, dreamy, and everything in between. Yolen moves almost seamlessly between these different atmospheres and each story is solid in its own right. Yolen writes with joy and that joy infects the reader as well. In a number of stories Yolen uses her own family history and Jewish heritage to fracture the tales. Although that doesn’t make them any easier to read, it does show just how intrinsic fairy tales are. They are elemental, in a way. We all grow up with stories and they are intensely personal and widely universal all at once. In each story in HOW TO FRACTURE A FAIRY TALE, Yolen’s love for stories comes through and that is what kept me exploring each new story. Not all of the stories necessarily clicked for me, perhaps it showed me a fracture I wasn’t interested in seeing. But each story nonetheless taught me something interesting about its foundation story, let me look at these characters and themes anew.
I really enjoyed the wide variety of stories in HOW TO FRACTURE A FAIRY TALE. Yolen is a pro and handles each in such a way it shines anew. Some of the stories are cheeky fun, the others are beautifully tragic. In the end, there is a story for everyone in this collection. I am now off to explore Yolen’s other work.
For the Portuguese site OSRASCUNHOS, Cristina Alves names the collection among the best English-language reads of 2018.
Jane Yolen is no stranger to these fairy tale reenactments, and in this collection she brings together the result of several short stories – now to present a perspective of an unusual character (such as a bridge that serves as a shelter for a troll ) to make the reader wonder why a prince would want to kiss a dead princess in a glass coffin.
(Translation from Portuguese courtesy of Google)
Photo: Jason Stemple
Maria Harrison of CONTEMPLATE AND INTIMATE praises the book.
What I liked most about this book was the variety. There were stories that I loved and stories that I didn’t care too much about. There were stories that were magical and stories that were bland. There were stories that were beautiful and stories that were gross. There were stories that were funny and stories that were sad.
Overall, I am really glad I took the time to read this anthology. I generally love fairy tale retellings, and this showed me that my idea of “fairy tales” was actually quite limited. I think this is a great way to expand beyond the Snow White & Cinderella stories that are most common.
In another post at CONTEMPLATE AND INTIMATE, Harrison shared five quotes from HOW TO FRACTURE A FAIRY TALE.
“And while a story with Death might be true, a story with a king in it is always a fairy tale.”
This quote is not only catchy, it feels true to me. Kings are a thing of the past or make believe, and even the histories are sometimes hard to believe.
For more info on HOW TO FRACTURE A FAIRY TALE, visit the Tachyon page.
Cover design by Elizabeth Story