Good fiction always means something. Literature teachers spend any amount of effort teaching their students to look behind a story to find a greater truth, a universal moral. Fairytales are no exception. In fact, they may suffer from literary snobbery because their themes seem too transparent, too simplistic.
In part I think such snubs come from readers associating fairytales with stories for children, designed to teach them not to talk to strangers or to obey their parents—in other words, stories that don’t demand much of adults.
I believe this view in part comes from the Disney-fying of fairytales in the twentieth century in which they were pushed into the corner of make-believe suited for children.
Welcome to the faery stories of the twenty-first century! These are more closely aligned to the original tales told and retold until they were collected and written down by people like the Grimm brothers and Hans Christian Anderson.
Those original stories were not intended exclusively for children. In fact, they were not set aside as a special class of story. Rather, they constituted the fiction of the day. Instead of being light stories fit for children, most had a dark edge, a bit of the macabre or the paranormal.
In our day of assiduously categorizing our fiction, we have had some work to reclaim faery stories from the trivialized classification of the last century. Authors like Anne Elisabeth Stengl are doing a remarkable job accomplishing this feat for readers of Christian speculative fiction.
Her latest, the CSFF feature for December, is Starflower, book four of the Tales of Goldstone Wood series.
Fourth in a series might scare off some readers–I mean, who wants to jump into the middle of a string of stories and be lost? As Anne Elisabeth herself said, however, Starflower is a great place to start because it is a prequel to the first three books. It reads very much like a stand alone, but knowing the title to the next book, I’m confident there will be a strong connection between that story and this one. In short, Starflower is the book fans of fairytale fantasy need to pick up.
And now a couple tour highlights
- Meagan @ Blooming with Books has an outstanding interview with Anne Elisabeth. Here’s the first question and part of the answer.
1) Tales from Goldstone Woods has such a depth to it. Where did the inspiration for this series come from?
The initial inspiration for this series was simply my love of all things Fairy Tale. I wanted to write a series of inter-connected novels that used classic and familiar fairy tale themes and took them in unexpected directions.
- Gillian continues her book-giveaway contest with a discussion of the characters in Starflower. Leave your comment to become eligible for the drawing. Leave your comment each day and increase your chance to win.
- Shannon McDermott, an astute CSFF reviewer, gives her impressions, ending with this:
The story was unexpected, and landscapes and people rose up brilliantly from the pages. This book was a surprise to me. I had expected it to be good, but I didn’t think it would be incredible.
Are all the reviews uniformly favorable? No, actually not. But one that was sort of so-so, yet nonetheless accurate, was written by Robert Treskillard‘s daughter. Since this book came to us as a young adult fairytale, he asked his twelve-year-old to read and review it, figuring she was bordering the target audience. She herself concluded otherwise, ending her review with this: “Overall I would recommend this book for readers 16 and up.” Spot on, Ness!
Be sure to visit the other participants (listed at the end of this post) and read their thoughts about this book and the others in the Tales of Goldstone Wood.