“Books are made of single words…”
As you know, I love stories. I especially love fairy tales. But not the Disney-type fairy tales, though I was in fact a complete product of Disney movies when I was a child. It was the inception of a hellish 6th grade year, by the way. But, no, the fairytales that I enjoy are the ones found in books such as Perrault’s Fairy Tales, Grimm’s Grimmest, Black Pearls, and Kiss the Witch. These are fairy tales as they were originally intended, cautionary tales, morality tales. Dark stories of poor judgment and bloody consequences of evil, foolishness or disobedience.
I’m not entirely sure why these stories draw me or why I enjoy them so. Perhaps it’s the darkness in the stories; perhaps it’s the idea that not all fairy tales are pixie dust and happy endings. I am a dreamer, but I also know for a fact that not every story has a happy ending or that not all new peasant-to-princesses are kind-hearted and magnanimous to those who wronged them. I like that they are human with faults and tempers like the rest of us. For example, in Bill Willingham’s precursor to the Fables world, 1001 Nights of Snowfall, it is Snow White who revenges herself on the seven dwarves for what they did to her and her sister Rose Red. She uses her growing knowledge of swordplay (the wedding gift that she requested from Charming) to kill them off one at a time.
I’ve devoured so many books like that that I can find, such as Just Ella, The Goose Girl, Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister, Mercedes Lackey’s Elemental Masters series, Melting Stones, The Fair Folk, The Fairy Reel. It’s not just fairy tales, it’s the stories of the Fey Folk as well that I enjoy more when they are dark. I prefer Peter Pan as a child thief and kidnapper than as a hero; he was a self-centered little prick after all. I prefer stories of fey who calculate their use of humans rather than grant wishes with the tinkle of a bell. I enjoy stories of magic grounded in the earth rather than in pixie dust. I want a talking heart of a mountain called Luvo, just like Evumeimei in Melting Stones. I want to learn fire magic through the tarot path like Eleanor in Phoenix in Ashes. Stories that are not all talking animals and happy endings for the characters. Stories of characters who have to dig deep down inside to survive the torments of others, the difficulty of their situations, who have to grow up a bit and be honest with themselves.
Stories like Brom’s The Plucker where you are dealing with dark forces but, at the same time, it’s the toys that must save the day, those are stories that draw me in and captivate me. I love to be lost in stories, to find myself surrounded by the characters in all their darkness and light, in all their triumphs and difficulties, in all their blood and blue sky. I would throw my arms around Bigby Wolf and cuddle him like a puppy, regardless of the fact that he is THE Big Bad Wolf, EVERY Big Bad Wolf in every story and he has caused untold harm and death in his past. Yet he has seven beautiful cubs that he would do anything to protect, including cursing his own brothers. I find him fascinating and endearing.
I love fairy stories and fairy tales. But make them dark and difficult, not just bright lovely. Like Giselle in Disney’s “Enchanted” found out, it’s not all cream puffs and happy friends. Sometimes you have to stand up for yourself, raise a little hell, and work for your happy ending, over and over again.