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Five Enchanted Roses Paperback – July 27, 2015
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I bought the collection on kindle soon after it came out ... and it proceeded to sit on my kindle until just a few days ago. I'd pulled it open and read the first chapter or so of Esprit, I'm not sure when, but my apathy kept me from getting invested. I was heartened by hearing that entries that had followed the Disney version had been disqualified, but ... still, I didn't have any desire to read it.
I finally cracked it open the other night, and actually dug into the stories ... and realized why I so rarely find a retelling that I can genuinely be excited about. I read retellings to see a side of a fairy tale that I hadn't realized before, to find meaning in it I didn't expect. Fairy Tales are, as a general rule, moral tales, but most of them are so bizarre and plot-hole-ridden that it takes some serious digging to crack into them and understand what they have to say.
B&B is a solid fairy tale, however. It's a modern story, comparatively, and the culmination of a large genre of fairy tales - the Cupid and Psyche tales. It's message - love is about more than appearances - is deep and solid.
Not many retellings seek to dig deeper than that message. However, in this collection, I found four stories that dug deeper, and one ... I'll get to it.
Esprit de la Rose - I think 90% of the reason I was able to get into this collection was because I was in a random pirate-mood the other night from Christmas shopping (one of my relations maaaaay be getting a DVD of the newest Pirates of the Caribean) and this book scratched that itch. So it started right-off a full turn-around from the original tale, especially since Cecilia and her father don't have the bond of love that you usually find in this tale. His piracy meant that she was ostracised through her childhood, and she resents that. She's also very upset to find that he'd stolen a mirror from the Fee - a group of merfolk who take it upon themselves to impose justice upon the sea. And she doesn't mean to take her father's punishment - she ends up on the ghost ship quite by accident. For a while, though, it looked like it was going to follow the typical plotline - there was even a mutiny that felt like the "kill the beast" sequence.
Then, a plot twist happened. Can't give details ... but I'll just say that I appreciated that the Happily Ever After wasn't just handed to the characters. They had to fight for it.
I also noted that this seemed to have been the only tale that incorporated the mirror from the fairy tale. Indeed, it rather took the rose's typical place in the story.
Wither - I have actually gotten to know this author over this past year, and it was actually for this story's sake that I deliberately picked this collection up again, as I wanted to acquaint myself with her writing. And I really liked this story, too. It had an eerie beauty that I really liked, and I had to force myself to leave it because I had work the next morning. It quickly caught my attention - because the youngest daughter isn't the heroine. Instead the MIDDLE daughter decided that her little sister didn't need the hassle of a second curse (she already had one promised for her sixteenth birthday). And while it did follow the original tale the second best out of the collection - again, the ending had a beautiful twist. I saw a reviewer saying that it wasn't a happy ending ... but I can't imagine a better one. And while it did deal with the "Beauty isn't about appearences," it dug deeper, showing more depth to that moral.
Stone Curse - As I already stated, this was the retelling that I was cheering to win the collection, yet I still knew little about it going in, other than the fact that there were stone statues in the castle, and that Karyna was there from the beginning. And it only briefly winked at "True love can break the curse" as maidens are frequently sent to the castle to try to break Prince Betram's curse. TRUE LOVE WASN'T THE ANSWER HERE, FOLKS. I won't say what the answer was, #spoilers, but it was beautiful. I might have forseen the plot twist, and I might be a bit disatisfied by the secondary romance (I just didn't feel anything between them, kay?), but it was altogether an excellent retelling.
Rosara and the Jungle King - To be honest, if this hadn't been in this collection, I probably wouldn't have taken it for a retelling of B&B. It just feels so different. The Jungle King never even feels like a beast, not after the first few seconds, at any rate. The BEAST of the story is the Gaston character (because, yes, of the collection, this one feels the most like the Disney). It takes place in an Amazon Jungle, about a girl from a village that doesn't treat its women well. As such, it never even looks in the direction of the tale's typical moral. Its romance is sweeter (and of my favorite variety). It carves its own path and talls its own story. (Though it does smell like Ladyhawke for a short bit). I really liked it. Don't recommend it for younger readers, but I do like it.
Wulver's Rose - Now this one ... this one is more of your typical B&B story, just set in Scotland instead of France. It touches on a note of self-forgiveness, but its core message is the core message of B&B. But after four retellings showing me the grand scope of the tale, I was ready to hear again the story's roots. It was beautiful and lovely, and though I was a bit uncomfortable with the magic ... well, it was portrayed as evil, so ... anywho. Rois, though. Poor Rois.
Alltogether, it was a solid collection that I would recommend to anyone who wants to know just what B&B is about. The stories flow well from one to another, which meant that I didn't have the huge reading gaps between stories, like I did with the last two stories in the Cinderella collection.
Also, I need sequels to most of these stories.
1. "Esprit de la Rose," by Kaycee Browning. Rating: 3 stars. I loved the creativity of having this story set on a pirate ship. Cecilia, the heroine, is likable, loyal to those who have hurt her in the past and spunky in a gentle way. The undersea mermaids provided a creepy but compelling touch, and I loved the idea of the ship as a character, how it mirrored those aboard it. I never felt like I truly connected with the beast character, but the story is fun and engaging.
2. "Wither," by Hannah Jezowski. Rating: 5 stars. Set in a world where ravenous ghouls and wraiths seek to gain dominance, this is a heartwrending tale of one protector's desperate attempt to save that with which he's been entrusted. "Wither" is also the story of Lilybet, a practical girl with a fiercely loyal spirit determined to save her younger sister at all costs. I loved the characterization in this story, and the beast is extremely empathetic. The world building is superb, leaving room for the hopeful possibility of more stories from this author. I loved how the chapters of this tale alternated from the beauty and beast characters' perspectives.
3. "Stone Curse," by Jenelle Schmidt. Rating: 5 stars. This story tells of a Beauty character who must leave a castle in order to lift a curse. It is a tale of a visiting prince who is transformed through no fault of his own. I loved the twist ending and how the author examines the theme of what truly makes a person a beast. The tale is simply told but beautifully written. One of my favorites.
4. "Rosara and the Jungle King," by Dorian Tsukioka. Rating: 4 stars. Set in a jungle where brutal men seek to ruthlessly claim what they desire, this story tells of a young woman's desperate fight for survival. It is a coming-of-age story in which two characters flee from predetermined fates only to find each other. Yet many dangers stand in their way, and can Rosara's newly-found friend be trusted? Rosara's voice is engaging, and I loved her independent spirit. The setting is wonderfully conveyed and unique. I did feel that some of the characterization fell flat, and the love story seemed too abrupt for my taste. However, Mrs. Tsukioka employs beautiful imagery, and I particularly loved the description of the Karawara, or "jungle spirits."
5. "The Wulver's Rose," by Hayden Wand. 5 stars. My utmost favorite of this collection, this retelling is set in Scotland. The tale most closely resembles the original classic in both tone and plot. However, there's more than enough surprises to maintain interest, and the beast's motivations moved me to tears. Bonnie is sweet but strong, and I loved how Ms. Wand explored the themes of guilt and sacrifice so compellingly. Filled with breathtaking imagery, authentic dialect and vivid characters, this story is worth the price of the book alone.
I encourage everyone to read this riveting collection of inventive retellings of such a universal story. You will not be disappointed. God bless you all.
However I was disappointed, it seems to me the story in this collection were very lose retelling telling's of beauty and the beast.
Rosara and the Jungle king was the worst, I was left wondering how is this beauty and the beast?
I was expecting the stories to be more like the wulver's rose solid retellings of beauty and the beast.
While in Five glass slippers there was some lose retellings (Don't get me wrong I love A Cinder's Tale) but it seem like the majority of the stories were more solid (sticking to the oringal tale) retelling's then lose where here it seem to be the opposite.
Another thing that bother me was the lack of beatly beasts.
Think about Corwin is a great guy; sacrificing his life greater good for the others and Barend and Lauchlan were simply curse for loving
the 'wrong' girl.
Not one of these beasts had been cast into beasthood because they were horrible, selfish, vane people and need to learn a lesson (okay maybe Pepoin).
I hoping next year's collection will be better.