Beauty wraps up the trilogy, tying the books together even more and linking even more fairytales. It’s written in the same style as the previous two, and illuminates some points from the other books — including the characters of the Prince and the Huntsman. It’s all a little too neat for my tastes, and I think this might’ve been my least favourite of the books; the gruesomeness and sex was exaggerated even further, and we spend far too much time with the Prince, who we know is not exactly the nicest of characters. (Though perhaps this book explains it, somewhat!)
The ending, the epilogue part, was just infuriating — is this the end of a trilogy? Are there more books coming? I’m confused; it seems to promise that there will be resolution of this plot, at some point, maybe, but not now? The character is just left hanging in the most infuriating sort of way: there’s a way out of her situation, right, so what is it? I want to know! (Though the choice to combine Sleeping Beauty and Beauty and the Beast is quite fun taken as a concept, I just wish there was an actual resolution.)
I do like the way that Pinborough has twisted and combined the fairytales into one landscape of story. It might be a bit too clever by half, but I’ve been getting used to it, and it’s kind of fun to play spot-the-fairytale — and also spot the references to other people’s versions. The language works well, although it makes the sexual imagery all the more surprising — reading it, you’d think it’d be suitable for a child, or almost. And then… oh. Perhaps not!
I liked Charm more than the first book, but I’m still somewhat wondering exactly what to think about this. There’s less of a focus on sex in this book than in Poison, and what there is ends up feeling less exploitative and like power-play. Indeed, two of the scenes include a lot of tenderness, for quite different reasons. I can appreciate the world created, in which sex isn’t a huge deal but can be a way to share joy.
It’s also an interesting set-up world-wise, with Robin Hood making an appearance and more references to Hansel and Gretel, etc. It’s all a bit too wildly promiscuous about the stories mingling for my taste — there seems little rhyme or reason behind it — but it’s kind of fun to figure the references out, anyway.
As with the first book, the narration remains fairytale-like, and the twists on the original story are quite fun. For example, the ‘ugly’ step-sisters aren’t really ugly at all, and Cinderella’s hatred of her step-mother is rather unjust… but she is lower class than them and she does work around the house, and she doesn’t go to the balls. And her sister, Rose, tries to cut off her own toes to fit the shoe… because she believes it’s what her mother would want. The characters aren’t necessarily likeable, but for me that isn’t so much an issue with the clever sort of tale chosen here. I think you’re only meant to be able to sympathise with Rose, and not so much Cinderella. It’s showing up the selfishness of pursuing a dream to others’ cost.
I’m definitely going to read the third book, Beauty; the three aren’t that closely linked together, I think, but thematically they compliment each other — and the Fairy Godmother is someone you’ll recognise if you’ve read Poison…
Just one library trip this week — partly because I have a book I really should return soon that I need to finish. So not many books picked up!
Since you probably know me at least a little, you know that I’ve started Beauty already, because I can never wait and just read books I already have… At least it finishes off that trilogy!?
Oh, and I did get one review copy this week, via Edelweiss. Exciting!
What’s everyone else been getting, reading, or coveting? Reading-wise, I’m partway through Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater and The Cutting Room edited by Ellen Datlow, among others. I’m not sure a book of horror stories based around movies is really my thing, but at the same time I’m kind of mesmerised.
Also, yay! It seems I have reached my goal of getting 80% feedback submitted on Netgalley. Finally.