Guest Reviewer: Fattimah Intoual
"As the days get chilly, there is nothing better than spending a Sunday
afternoon sitting in the sunshine with a pot of tea, a thick jumper and a good
book. And nothing makes me feel warmer than a re-imagined fairy tale. Robin
McKinley takes the comforting familiarity of childhood tales, pulls them apart,
expands and reweaves them into vibrant, complex stories of royalty, betrayal,
duty, love, revenge and war. Her novels gave me many hours of reading pleasure
as a teenager and, to be honest, I still pull them off the bookshelf whenever I
need some escapism."
End McKinley takes the Perrault fairy tale ‘Sleeping Beauty’ and creates
a hypnotic, tangled tale of briar roses, magic and friendship. I’ve never
particularly liked the story of Sleeping Beauty because she isn’t a heroine
who does anything. She grew up, pricked her finger, fell asleep, got
rescued, and lived happily ever after. Rather boring… McKinley, on the other
hand, refuses to allow her heroine to laze about waiting for a prince to come to
the rescue. Princess Briar-Rose (raised in a village, handy with animals and
known as Rosie to friends and family) is strong enough to save herself, and all
those who love her.
is a lush re-imagining of ‘Beauty and the Beast’ rich with the
transformative power of love and a heroine who is brave, compassionate, and who
has a talent for growing roses. Unlike traditional versions of Beauty and the
Beast, Beauty’s power lies not in her looks, but her kindness and courage.
grown up with the saccharine Disney version of Beauty and the Beast, I find
Rose Daughter a refreshing change. Although there are no singing
teacups and dancing candelabra, there is a Beast who is more than just a
handsome man trapped in an ugly body, and he is (eventually) loved by a woman
who is more than just a pretty face.
takes Charles Perrault’s little known fairy tale Donkeyskin and
creates an extraordinary tale of darkness and light, despair and hope in Deerskin.
The author has received hate mail for this novel and indeed it is a
confronting story of abuse and pain, but ultimately it’s a story of
survival, courage and justice. Though a difficult and often heartbreaking
story, I find beauty in Lissar’s courage, and the ordinary kindness of
the people she encounters in her travels.
McKinley doesn’t pretend that the scars of abuse disappear over
time, but her character does find the strength to trust and love again.
This is not a novel to take lightly given its subject matter.
Fattimah currently lives in
the nation’s chilly capital where she works for the federal
government and tries to avoid frostbite. Originally from Adelaide,
she’s an escapee from the legal profession, has more books than
available storage space, a love of quirky British comedy and a habit
of forgetting to sleep when she’s in the grip of an excellent