Today and yesterday I read no less than three stories by T. Kingfisher aka Ursula Vernon who wrote Jackalope Wives. I started by reading The Dryad’s Shoe in Women Destroy Fantasy and loved it. I of course had to search out other works by her and it turned out that she wrote the novella Nine Goblins, which I discovered. I liked that one enough to keep going and read the first story of Toad Words and Other Stories, Toad Words, right away. I thought I would put my reviews of all her stories I read this week in the same post, or it will become a bit messy – I think.
“The Dryad’s Shoe” in Women Destroy Fantasy – 2014
This is a retelling of Cinderella, basically, well it is if you sort of look at it sideways. This is the story of what that story could have been if Cinderella was a sensible girl and if the story had made sense. The protagonist loves gardening and as Kingfisher points out in the interview in the magazine, the kind of skill a girl working as the family’s servant girl might pick up is just not very useful in a formal ballroom setting. Imagine what would actually happen if somehow the prince did marry Cinderella. Imagine the embarrassment of not knowing how to eat properly, how to talk in polite company, how to dance and not step on people – people trained all of their youth to learn how to behave in polite company. That makes it sound like this story might be dull social commentary. But it isn’t. It’s giggling funny and delightful! Just what I needed after a long day in a very long month.
“Nine Goblins” a novella – 2013
As soon as I finished The Dryad’s Shoe I picked up Nine Goblins because the description of Terry Pratchett-like storytelling was too good not to give a read. And I was not disappointed. As I explained to my sister last night this is Pratchett, but without all the weird language, that makes him hard to read for non-native speakers. The story is clever and funny and in places rather delightful. The story plays with fantasy preconceptions and tropes. I have to say that I adored Sings-To-Trees. The goblins was also rather amazing. Icky but amazing and it didn’t take half a chapter before I found myself rooting for them. I very much recommend this story!
“Toad Word” in Toad Words and Other Stories – 2014
This story is just really sweet and so delightfully quirky. The very idea of a girl whose words drips toads and frogs is amazing. The story had me laughing out loud and smiling. I have been too tried all month to write anything about what I am reading, though I have read three wonderful novels, but this story gave me enough energy to turn on the computer and write.
“The Wolf and the Woodman” in Toad Words and Other Stories – 2014
This story is retelling Little Red Riding hood with the same kind of logical glasses on as “The Dryad’s Shoe”, however the tone is very different. While The Dryad’s Shoes was very much a new story told with the same bones as the original, this story was more like reading a critic of the story, with a new narrative inserted. That doesn’t sound particularly interesting, but it worked. It was told as if it was the real story behind the fairytale but it was still very much a magical story including a talking wolf. It was also very much a story about women and the particlar problems women face in the world – like misplaced affection turned violent (I am not saying that never happens for me, but looking at murder statistics we know who tend to be the victim of that kind of thing). I will not spoil the story other than to say that these are not pushover women and that I wondered at the relationship between Granma and the wolf.