#Friday56 – Hag

Happy FriYAY Bibliofriends!

This week’s Friday 56 comes from Hag: Forgotten Folktales Retold by a various group of awesome British and Irish authors – It is perfect for any folktale, retellings or feminist enthusiasts out there who want something just right for the upcoming dark nights and spooky season ahead.

Hosted by Freda’s Voice, the Friday 56 is a weekly bookish prompt. It’s quite easy to do and could cover no end of different books and genres so seems great if you’re looking for a quick snippet to discover something new!

Rules:

*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader (If you have to improvise, that’s ok.)
*Find any sentence, (or few, just don’t spoil it)
*Post it.
*Add your (url) post here in Linky. Add the post url, not your blog url.
*It’s that simple.


As for me? I leave the island and I leave the past, or as much as I can. Meaning: now there’s only you. So, I hope you put your best foot forward as you heard all this and, if you didn’t, you might want to have a think think about that.

The Tale of Kathleen by Eimear McBride

This book was so brilliant to read. Each author put so much thought, effort and detail into their chosen retellings. It brings a fresh, modern and diverse uplift to some truly great British and Irish folktales. You really should read it! You can check out my full, spoiler-free review here.


Drop me a comment below or connect with me here:

Twitter | Goodreads | Book Sloth: @thebiblioshelf |Email: thebiblioshelf@gmail.com

Biblioshelf Musings – Hag: Forgotten Folktales Retold

Happy Wednesday Bibliofriends,

Hag is a wonderfully relevant and apt anthology of British and Irish folktale retellings, perfect for the upcoming Halloween season. Filled with feisty female characters, atmospheric settings and morals aplenty, the fairytale lover within me thoroughly enjoyed rediscovering some of these bygone traditional tales.

Originally a podcast series, Professor Carolyne Larrington conjured up a writing experiment which tasked 8-10 inspiring British and Irish women authors to write a contemporary retelling of a forgotten folktale with a modern, feminist twist. This collection reminds me of a fresh uplift on the gothic horror genre – think Angela Carter meets Henry James’ Turn of the Screw. With particularly eerie and dark stories, the tales within are guaranteed to get you in the mood for Halloween and those darker nights by the fire.


Book: Hag by Various Authors
Genre: Short Stories / Fantasy
Publication Date: October 8th 2020
Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group UK (Virago)
Pages: 288
Rating: 📚📚📚📚

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

DARK, POTENT AND UNCANNY, HAG BURSTS WITH THE UNTOLD STORIES OF OUR ISLES, CAPTURED IN VOICES AS VARIED AS THEY ARE VIVID.

Here are sisters fighting for the love of the same woman, a pregnant archaeologist unearthing impossible bones and lost children following you home. A panther runs through the forests of England and pixies prey upon violent men.

From the islands of Scotland to the coast of Cornwall, the mountains of Galway to the depths of the Fens, these forgotten folktales howl, cackle and sing their way into the 21st century, wildly reimagined by some of the most exciting women writing in Britain and Ireland today.

My Musings

As someone who has spent a fair bit of time reading folk/fairytales (I even did my dissertation on them) I was pleased to see a few of the more familiar and popular creatures making an appearance here such as selkies, boggarts, fairies and mermaids. That being said, the stories they were contained within felt fresh and new, I didn’t feel like I’d read any of them before – whilst the concepts may have been familiar, the stories themselves had me gripped to finding out what was going to happen, so they felt like more than just your average retellings.

What I particularly liked in Hag, was the focus on different regions from the UK rather than just a generalisation of British and Irish tales. It really did emphasise the nature of how transient traditional stories are and how they have shaped places across our entire nation. Also, the settings of each story became more relevant and heightened; you could visualise the area you live in and the places you’ve visited. Kudos too goes to the authors who managed to incorporate some the regional accents and dialects into the speech of their stories to make them all sound incredibly authentic.

The breakdown at the end recaps for the reader the ‘original’ tales as they may have been told in anthologies from the 19thand early 20thcenturies. These short snapshots not only refresh your memory of all the stories you’ve just read, but it also helps to see just how these tales have been revamped and updated for our 21st century world – they now have a modern diversity which wasn’t necessarily present in their earlier versions.

It is highly evident to see how much effort and hard work each author has put into their own retelling. Shamefully, I wasn’t aware when first diving into these stories just how well known some of these amazing writers are and it’s made me want to add more of their own voices and writings to my ever expanding TBR pile – there is some serious writing talent within this book and it shines off each and every page in the tone of the retellings and the way the stories have been brought to life within the pages.

Complete List of Tales

Below is a complete list of the authors, their revamped retelling, the location it is heralded from and a few examples of the author’s own works. (My personal favourites are starred)

Suffolk: A Retelling (Based on the Green Children of Woolpit) by Daisy Johnson [Fen; Everything Under; Sisters]

Yorkshire: Sour Hall (Based on Ay, We’re Flittin’) by Naomi Booth [The Lost Art of Sinking; Sealed]

Norfolk: Rosheen (Based on The Dauntless Girl) by Irenosen Okijie [Butterfly Fish; Strange Gigantular]

⭐️Orkney: Between Sea and Sky (Based on The Great Silkie of Sule Skerrie) by Kirsty Logan [Gracekeepers; Things We Say in the Dark]

⭐️Stafford: The Panther’s Tale (Based on Chillington House) by Mahsuda Snaith [Thing We Never Thought We Knew]

⭐️County Galway: The Tale of Kathleen by Eimear McBride [A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing; The Lesser Bohemians]

London: The Sisters (Based on Tavistock Square) by Liv Little [Editor-in-Chief of gal-dem Magazine]

Wales: The Dampness is Spreading (Based on The Fairy Midwife) by Emma Glass [Peach; Rest and Be Thankful]

⭐️Cornwall: The Droll of the Mermaid (Based on The Mermaid and the Man of Cury) by Natasha Carthew [All Rivers Run Free; Only The Ocean; The Light That Gets Lost]

Somerset: The Holloway (Based on Old Farmer Mole) by Imogen Hermes Gowar [The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock]

Favourite Quotes:

Sad, isn’t it, how many beautiful things we have destroyed to find out truths.
– Between Sea and Sky by Kirsty Logan

The trees surround her like giants from the folktales her mother recited: dark, looming, with crooked arms.
– The Panther’s Tale by Mahsuda Snaith

And if tales of her spirit seen dancing there surfaced, it should be remembered such stories are common enough. They are almost to be expected and should be looked sceptically upon – depending, of course, on how much of the rest of this story you believed anyway.
– The Tale of Kathleen by Eimear McBride

Song for the forgotten, a few words turned towards the ocean waves the place where the legend began where for some of them it would certainly end.
– The Droll of the Mermaid by Natasha Carthew

Why Should I Read This?

For the ominous, autumnal vibes.
For the rediscovery of traditional tales from the heritage of our nation.
For the exceptional storytelling prowess of some seriously powerful female authors.

If you love your folktales / retellings / contemporary female voices or you just want something to give you spooky and caliginous chills this October then Hag may be the perfect collection for you!

Find out more about this book here:

Amazon | NetGalley| Virago | Waterstones

Connect with me here:

Twitter | Goodreads | Book Sloth: @thebiblioshelf |Email: thebiblioshelf@gmail.com

Biblioshelf Musings – Twelve: Poems Inspired by The Brothers Grimm Fairytale

Aloha Bibliofriends,

Fairytales have always had a special place in my heart. I love reading and analysing them so much so that my university dissertation was based on the tale of Sleeping Beauty and a whole section of my bookshelves are dedicated to fairytale theory books from the likes of Jack Zipes, Bruno Bettelheim and Marina Warner. When I came across Twelve: Poems Inspired by The Brothers Grimm Fairytale by Andrea Blythe as an eARC on NetGalley I was immediately captivated and wanted to read it. Thank you to Interstellar Flight Press, Andrea Blythe and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.


Book: Twelve: Poems Inspired by The Brothers Grimm Fairytale by Andrea Blythe
Genre: Fairytales / Poetry
Publication Date: September 7th 2020
Publisher: Interstellar Flight Press
Pages: 64
Rating: 📚📚📚📚

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

Twelve is a poetic retelling of the Brothers Grimm fairytale “The Twelve Dancing Princesses.” Bewitching and beguiling, this short series of linked poems takes the reader to the underground realm and back, following the stories of twelve princesses and their life after the magic shoes.

My Musings

To me, fairytales are the original story. With elements of folklore and oral-storytelling passed on from generation to generation until they are finally written down and published for anyone to read, it’s no wonder that each of these amazing stories have different variations and attributes linking to a myriad of cultures across our planet. Modern-day retellings often seek to gender-bend or feminise these tales, questioning the traditional roles of the obedient princesses who require a loving stereotypical marriage as their happily ever after.

In Twelve, Andrea Blythe manages to pull off a modern retelling in spectacular fashion whilst retaining the elements of fairytales and storytelling which all of its fans love. Taking each sister one by one, Blythe dedicates each of the Twelve Princesses with their own unique voice and identity giving fresh substance and purpose to the once subservient, archaic damsels-in-distress in search of their prince.

As characters of their own, we see the ringleader whose decision it was to condemn their failed suitors to death; the sister whose stubbornness and obstinance defied punishment and carried on her dancing regardless of the King’s ruling; the wannabe-baker who despite being told to stay out of the kitchen ends up finding more than one passion in the pantry; the Belle-like book-lover who managed to camouflage herself amidst the stacks.

Twelve was not quite poetry in the form I was anticipating and represents more of a prose-style narrative, however the writing was lyrically beautiful just the same. Language and imagery contribute to a huge part of my enjoyment in a book and, for something shorter than what I’m used to reading, Blythe brought this in spades! The haunting imagery of the Third Sister’s tale is sure to resonate with any bibliophile who has ever been lost and caught up in their own little bookish world.

The Author’s Note at the end seeks to clarify Blythe’s inspiration for writing these wonderful poems. It gives credence to the fact that she is well-versed in the genre and this tale in particular. It was interesting to read her motivations for writing Twelve and take on board her own viewpoint in bringing these stories to life.

Favourite Quotes:

Her blood spit within her veins like dragon fire.

The library became her realm. She slept on the nests of old discarded pamphlets and nourished herself on the pages she consumed.

She might read you and find in your flesh the story that shapes you.

Any small fraction of magic could have settled itself under her skin.

Why Should I Read This?

For the bewitching storytelling.
For a fresh uplift on a classical fairytale.
For the diverse representations and identities of the Twelve Princesses.

Any reader with a passion for fairytales is sure to find something to enjoy in this short and sweet collection of poems based on tale of The Twelve Princesses from The Brothers Grimm.

Find out more about this book here:

Amazon | Interstellar Flight Press| Author’s Website | Twitter | NetGalley

Connect with me here:

Twitter | Goodreads | Book Sloth: @thebiblioshelf |Email: thebiblioshelf@gmail.com