A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that, like all fairy tales, these three tales have a dark side. The third and longest story is the darkest and most adult, with a land of demons who can take over human bodies and make them have (barley described) sex. The first two stories involve older teens coming of age and having first romances. There are goblins, curses, demons, and danger throughout but it's not to the point of feeling like a horror novel. Also of note: One of the stories has characters who visit Hell, and a demon who can visit above. The author's Afterward discusses her views of Hell and some of the world religion stories she was inspired by.
What's the story?
In each of three brand-new fairy tales, a young woman comes of age and discovers a first love while also uncovering secrets about herself. The first is contemporary, and a 16-year-old hears ghosts and is pursued by beautiful goblins despite her grandmother's warnings. The second is set in colonial India where a girl is cursed at birth and like so many fairy tale heroines, her first kiss might kill her or her beloved. A strong matriarchal figure and her brave beloved help her outwit her curse. In the final and longest tale, high fantasy creates a world of demons who keep children as pets, inhabit human bodies for the vicarious thrill of sex, and remain completely hidden from the modern world. But one of those human pets, Mab, escapes to save her own daughter, Esme, and creates a new fairy tale life. The demon who helped her longs for his lost humanity, and finds a way to use Esme to also restore a soul to his beloved queen.
Is it any good?
Each of these three fantastically imagined tales could stand as the quintessential fairy tale. Each heroine is modern enough to make up her own mind about love, despite inherent dangers. Each is helped by a distinctively wise older woman, and handsome, honorable, and good men are also cast. Delightfully creepy goblins and monsters and not a few demons also come to life: Like all fairy tales, there is some danger mixed in with the beauty.
The lush language is as delicious as a peach, with phrases so beautiful you could almost believe that Laini Taylor sold her soul for the magic ability to craft them. A beautiful book design with rich endpapers and several pages of black, white, and red illustrations for each story depict the worlds within. Readers of fairy tales and fantasy both will love this book.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the universality of fairy tales and folk tales. Are their lessons relevant today?
One of the stories has characters who visit Hell, and a demon who can visit above. The author has a note afterward that discusses her views of Hell and some of the world religion stories she was inspired by. How do they inform her stories?
There is some danger that comes with these three kisses. Do the three heroines make the right choices?
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