The Storyteller is a reimagining of Grim’s 12 Dancing Princesses. For those not familiar with the original tale, every night the King locks his twelve daughters into their room and every morning when he releases them the princesses are not only exhausted but their dancing slippers have been worn through. The king decrees that any champion who takes on the challenge and succeeds in uncovering the Princesses’ secret will not only be richly rewarded but will be free to choose the hand of whichever princess he so wishes. Failure however will result in death – by decapitation. Rounded up so bluntly like that you can’t help wondering why we read this as a nighttime fairytale to our children!
What I particularly liked about the story was that it adheres in format and style to the original but it manages to give the princesses more character (although given there are twelve they don’t all get equal time – otherwise this would be a very lengthy novel indeed!) We’re also provided with a little back history into the King and the motives behind the locked door. Is he protecting his daughters or is he in fact keeping them captive. I think it also succeeds in making the princesses more likable. Lets not forget that in the original tale they play a hand in quite a few champions losing their heads! In this particular story they act quite responsibly towards these men – even though they are unwelcome visitors! The main character of the story is Lyra. All the girls not only look very similar but their names all start with the letter ‘A’ and so to assist with identifying each other they usually adopt the end of the name therefore Alyra becomes Lyra. She’s a book worm who enjoys regaling her sisters with stories about castles and curses never totally putting together the fact that they’re living in their very own story!
I think the author succeeds in delivering a story that gives a bit more insight into these otherwise ‘anonymous’ princesses whilst at the same time giving them an interesting back story. Plus managing to squeeze in a few more stories along the way. I thought the change in tack for the last champion was a really good take.
In terms of criticisms I don’t really have anything at all other than I think this could have been shortened a little, simply to strengthen the tension a little. I also think I could have handled a little bit more creepy darkness or more of a gothic feel but, that being said that would have changed the ‘feel’ of the book. As it is this has more the feel of a mystery adventure and a race against time to work out a solution.
A lovely retelling of a favourite old tale. Well written with Princesses that have a little more of a modern outlook. Talking cats and fairy godmothers. It will be interesting to go and read the first book by this author – The Wanderers – these books don’t have to be read in order but there is some overlapping of characters and I’d like to find out a little more about Tom.
In the interest of disclosure I have known the author in a blogging capacity for some time and was very happy to read and review The Storyteller. The above is my own opinion.
We recently spent two weeks touring the island of Sicily. We started at Mondello – which is about 15 minutes outside of Palermo. A quiet place with a lovely beach and I imagine a very popular spot for city people come the weekend!
Palermo is amazing. I just loved it. We only spent a day looking round but we had some of the highlights of our holiday on that day. We visited the Capuchin Catacombs (no photos allowed – this article shows more if you want more info:
I must admit I hesitated before going down to see this – I wasn’t quite sure how I felt about it becoming an attraction and almost felt a little bit as though i was being disrespectful. As it happens the experience was nothing like that. It’s actually quite a fascinating glimpse into the period really.
I’m not sure I’d advise driving round Palermo – unless you want to add that to your ‘experience’ list! We took a tuk tuk ride (which is a scenic taxi) – and my, what a brilliant experience – I would definitely recommend this.
The following day we spent time in Monreale and this is a picture of the cloisters. Each of the columns are carved with intricate figures – everything you can think of, even mythical winged things!
We then headed to Sciacca for a couple of days after which paying a visit to Selinunte on our way to Syracuse and Ortiga. Ortiga is a beautiful place. We’ve been before and so only spent a couple of days but really I could have spent a full week. There is such a lot to do and see. We took a tour of the hypogea – which was fascinating. If memory serves this used to hold 10,000 bodies – obviously now removed (second only to the Hypogea in Rome according to the guide)! Below is a picture of the tunnels that lie beneath the Duomo – used for air raid shelters during WWII and lined with information and pictures.
This is Taormina – our hotel was opposite this beautiful spot quite rightly named Isolla Bella. We had three very relaxing days here.
Then off to Milazzo for a whistlestop visit before arriving in Cefalu. We’ve spent two weeks in Cefalu on a previous holiday. It’s a wonderful spot to visit and I would highly recommend it. It’s perfectly situated to visit other places and it’s a historic town and seaside resort.
Our final stop was Castellammare del Golfo which was our final 3 days and literally just a chill out. We had a lovely room overlooking the harbour. The weather was scorching and so we basically sat around doing as little as possible!
Verdict: I would recommend Sicily very strongly. It’s packed with things to see and do. It’s cram packed with history and amazing sights to see. We’ve spent four weeks there now during two different holidays and yet I still only feel I’ve scratched the surface!
If you get the chance – go. Amazing people, fantastic food and drink, breathtaking scenery, historical wonders. An island of passion and adventure and absolutely fascinating.
Fan Art Up is a weekly meme hosted by Tabitha over at Not Yet Read. The idea being to see if you can come up with some inspiration for a little sketch or doodle from your last week’s reading or just anything else in general. This week I’m reading The Tropic of Serpents by Marie Brennan. I’ve also read the Undying by Ethan Reid. I seem to be having a lot of dragon books at the moment which is set to continue as I’m about to start Dreamwalker! I’ve tried a dragon – you have to imagine this is flying at you – hence the bad perspective (believe me when I say this looked so much better in my head!) The other is my dog – the weather is filthy and so is he! My drawing ability seems to be getting worse! Stop on over at Not Yet Read and check out all the loveliness.
Being Thursday, I’ve packed up my toothbrush and I’m going travelling through the tropes of fantasy with the Fantasy Review Barn. Hosted by Nathan, every week we dig out examples of whatever trope is the topic and try to expand each others horizons – otherwise known as the TBR. So, this week:
DESERT NOMADS occupy the hot parts to the south, which is either desert or rather parched grass. For some reason this is ideal terrain for breeding horses, of which nomad clans have in large numbers.
Three by Jay Posey – a strange apocalyptic world where terrible creatures called Weir stalk the night shrieking and causing terror. Three is the lone gunman of the piece who against his own better judgement turns hero and comes to the assistance of a lone woman and her son in their hour of need. Can’t say there is any horse breeding going on here but Three is definitely a nomad type character travelling alone through the deserted plains.
The Painted Man by Peter Brett. Arlen is something of a nomad. He leaves his home and family in a quest to discover more about the lost wards that prevent the demons that arise at dusk from taking over his world. I could probably also have the character Jardir from the second novel in the series by the same author – the Desert Spear!
Smilers Fair by Rebecca Levene – probably a slight cheat but Smiler’s Fair itself does have a nomadic lifestyle. The whole fair packs up and moves on on a regular basis – in order to avoid the ‘worm men’ who come from beneath the ground. In fact most of the communities of this book have to regularly up sticks and move for that very same reason.
Aragorn – he rides a horse occasionally, I’m sure that some of the weather must be hot every now and again and he’s a ranger which definitely lends him a lonesome style of life. And, this allows me to get LoTR into my list as usual!
Darn it though – I can’t think of an example from Harry Potter. Drat and bother.
That’s it for me this week – tell me about your nomads please as I’ve done shockingly badly this week!