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Friday, August 4, 2017

The Fairy Tales of William J Brooke: A Review

Hello, my lovelies!

My mind is sort of spinning as I write this.

I am fresh off of rereading a series I read as a kid, was wildly fascinated with, and didn’t understand a lick. Rereading them now I appreciate them so much more and that’s why my head I spinning- because there is so much going on inside it, so much I’m thinking about and not sure how to say. But I’ll do my best.

A Telling of the Tales:

5 Stars
This is William J. Brooke’s first book in the series. At a glance it appears to be a series of short stories that retell different fairy tales. Except he likes to mess with the fairy tales, asking questions, making changes. The very first story is a Sleeping Beauty retelling in which Sleeping Beauty isn’t quite convinced that she was really asleep for 100 years. From there the stories just get better (though I do love that first one dearly). Some are happy little stories, most have elements of deep wistfulness. He likes to dig deeply into certain themes, particularly that of looking back on your life and feeling regret. It’s a running theme through the whole series and it’s very interesting.

But don’t mistake these stories for anything too heavy. He mixes comedy in seamlessly, as if to remind us not to take life too seriously. And it works. It works really, really well. I wonder if this series is where I got my love for mixing the comedic with the philosophical. I’d like to think it is.

I love each story in this book (all unconnected to each other) and don’t think I can pick a favorite (okay, that's not true- it's "The Working of John Henry") Each story is so different and varied that at first glance it seems weird that they are all in the same book together. But they work and they work well. Anyone who loves fairy tales needs to read this book as soon as possible. And even people who don’t love them should. I can’t recommend this book highly enough.

Untold Tales:

4.5 Stars
This is the second book in the series and while I really enjoyed it, it just wasn’t as good as the other two. I think maybe because it’s a bit heavier than the others? It made me think a lot more (which is never a bad thing) but there were a few things that I just wasn’t sure how I felt about them. Nothing bad!! I just didn’t love them as much as I did the stories from the other book.

There are four stories in this book. The first three are only slightly connected by the tiniest element, the third and fourth closely connected and featuring a character from the first story of the first book (A Telling of the Tales). It was honestly the last story that dropped the rating down half a star. It was CLEVER. Goodness was it clever. But it was a little too clever in places, like the author was trying too hard and it was just hard to wrap my head around, which made it hard to enjoy.

But this one was still really good and definitely worth the read!

Teller of Tales

5 Stars
This is without a doubt my favorite of all the books. I loved each and every one of them but this one blows the others out of the water. It’s written more like a novel, each story not its own, intertwined with the framework story and acting as a mirror to the characters and their lives (particularly the lives of Teller and the Girl, the two main characters).

All of the stories in this book connect and then the last story connects to the first story of the first book in a super cool way (which I shall not elaborate on so you can experience it for yourself when you read it). The stories are deeper in this book, the characters rounder, more dynamic. They suffer from more real things and are more dynamic. And because you get a whole book and not just a short story with them, the characters grow more, change over the course of the stories.

There are still fairy tale retellings, they’re just different. But the good kind of different. And definitely my favorite.

Overall the series is incredible and I am very happy with the money I spent to buy them since my library got rid of the copies I read as a kid. As I said, I would recommend them to anyone who loves fairy tales or is even slightly interested in them. Or anyone who likes slightly quirky stories that mix comedy and philosophy. Or if you’re a writer, you’d really appreciate not only his prose but the stories he tells about telling stories. They’re so good. Really anyone just looking for some good books to read. Because these are so good. So, so good.

These stories have stuck with me since the first time I read them all those years ago, though I was far too young to understand and appreciate them fully then. I used to think back on them and remember things the author did and the questions he asked about the stories. Even though I didn’t get them fully as a kid, I think these really shaped the way I look at fairy tales. I was scared to reread them, thinking maybe it would ruin the magic but I was wrong. They made things even more magical. The stories made sense this time, they captured me in ways I never would have dreamed they could. I want more and I’m so sad this is all there is.

So yes. I would definitely recommend them. I myself am going to treasure my copies and keep them safe for reading and rereading. Because I just read them but I already know these are stories I’m going to want to revisit very soon.

Also, I made a playlist. There is one song for each story in the first two books, in the order they appear (nine songs in all). The rest of the songs at the end are for the characters in the last book. I don’t have songs for their stories yet and I feel like this book is too special to try to force anything. Hopefully I’ll be adding some songs for them in the future.

I’ll be back on Monday to talk about my personal history with fairy tales and I hope to see you then. Until the next time we meet, don’t forget to live happily ever after <3

~Jennifer Sauer, the Ivory Palace Princess


  1. I think Untold Tales is a book I've been looking for! Love t me see, how to figure it out without getting spoilery...is there a guy in a blue hat. You know, The Guy in The Blue Hat? Also, are there dingbats?

    1. YEEEESSS!!!! The Guy in the Blue Hat is from Untold Tales!! Goodness that makes me so happy to know someone else has read it!!