The Violent and Weird Side of Grimm's Fairy Tales: Part Two


As mentioned in "The Violent and Weird Side of Grimm's Fairy Tales: Part One," there is typically a little more to the fairy tales of the Grimm brothers than what makes it to whitewashed modern children's television and literature. In fact, the original Grimm fairy tales would be lucky to get by with a rating of T for teen, with a few exceptions. Here are a few more tasteless children's fairy tale twists courtesy of the Grimm brothers.

Cat and Mouse in Partnership

Oh, how nice, a fairy tale that brings together a cat and a mouse. These ancient enemies will be just adorable together. Well, it might work in legitimate children's television like Tom and Jerry . . . Wait, Tom and Jerry were homicidal maniacs too. Well, if this were a cartoon blog, we would certainly discuss it. Where was I? Ah, yes, the cat, the mouse, friends forever, or until the food runs out.

This story starts with a cat convincing a mouse that they would make great roommates. They move in together and decide to store a pot of fat for the winter. The cat tricks the mouse and eats the entire pot long before winter strikes. Finally, winter comes around and there is no food. When the mouse figures out that the cat did it, her dear friend eats her without a blink. Moral of the story: store extra food for winter or your friends might eat you.

The Goose Girl

A princess, kind and meek, is sent to another kingdom to be married to a prince. She takes with her: royal clothes, a golden cup, jewels, a talking horse, a maid and many more riches. During the trip, the maid forces the princess to trade horses and clothes, saying that she will kill the princess if she tells. When they get to the kingdom, the prince mistakes the maid for the princess and brings her inside. However, the talking horse is a problem and the maid has it killed. The princess then has its head hung outside of a gate and talks to it every day. Oh, and the severed horse head talks back.

The king eventually finds out that the maid has tricked his son, partly thanks to the Dickensian ghost of a horse. So, he sneaks the princess into the castle in royal clothes. Nobody recognizes her as the goose girl that she had become. The king then recounts the story and tricks the maid into deciding her own fate. She is then stuck in a barrel with many nails sticking into it. Then, the barrel is dragged by horses.

Rapunzel

Rapunzel is not as bad as others, though I have heard that the very original version is quite X-rated. In the version that made it into recent translations, Rapunzel does not just let the prince up into her tower, she gets pregnant. We all know how that happens. Then, the enchantress who trapped Rapunzel banishes her to the desert and gets the prince to jump from the tower. He does not die. He only has his eyes gashed open by thorns and is rendered blind. Disney left that out. Later, he stumbles into the desert where he finds his wife and twin children. His sight is restored by Rapunzel's tears. Lovely happy ending, but readers deserved it after the eye gouging, bearing children alone in the desert and kidnapping going on in Rapunzel.

Fundevogel

Do not be fooled by its name. The Grimms forgot to put the fun in Fundevogel. It starts when a forester finds a child that was grabbed away from its mother and carried off by a bird. He takes the boy and raises him as a son with his own daughter Lina. Lina and Fundevogel grow to love each other very much. They are inseparable, as evidenced by their great escape when the cook admits to Lina that she is going to boil Fundevogel alive. Oh, yes. We assume she was going to eat him too. Sleep well, kiddos, and don't worry. Lina and Fundevogel turn into a swan and a pond. Lina then drowns the cook in Fundev . . . the pond.

More of these twisted tales of fairy whimsy will be up soon. Beware.

Shelly Barclay 

The Violent and Weird Side of Grimm's Fairy Tales: Part One


Grimm's fairy tales are among the most popular children's stories of all time. Several of them have been the basis for those airy Disney classics that our kids love so much. Though some arguably messed up stuff makes it into children's television, it is pretty much guaranteed that Grimm's uncensored works would be rated nothing less than "Holy crap! Don't let kids watch that."

The Golden Bird

In The Golden Bird, a fox helps a young prince find a golden bird that his father covets. Like a strange personal ad on the internet, the fox only asks one thing in return -- that the prince cut off his -- the fox's -- head and feet. Serial killer bedtime stories, anyone? Not to worry, though. When the prince finally gives in and hacks into the fox, the little guy becomes a prince.

Hans in Luck

Hans in Luck is the story of a man who is ripped off . . . over and over again. Hans starts his day with a hunk of silver as large as his head. Throughout the day, he happily trades his silver for a horse and so on. Every person he makes a trade with is a swindler. By the end of the day, Han is empty-handed and happy about it. Moral of the story: If you are going to be ripped off, it is best to be a dolt so you do not feel bad about it.

The Dog and the Sparrow

In The Dog and the Sparrow, a man decides to starve his dog. The dog runs away and is run over by another man, who committed the deed on purpose. A sparrow had befriended the dog and so torments the man who killed him. The man tries to kill the sparrow with a hatchet, but misses three times and kills all three of his horses. Later in the story, his wife tries to kill the sparrow, but misses and hits him in the head with the hatchet, killing him. It is like Poe and 70's teen slasher flicks got together and had a baby.

The Twelve Dancing Princesses

In The Twelve Dancing Princesses, a king is curious where his daughters are going at night. Their shoes show signs of having danced the night away. He issues a proclamation that any man who can discover their activities will be given the princess of his choice and later become king. However, if he cannot within three days, he will be executed. Several princes die this way. It turns out that the princesses were giving the men a sleeping agent, despite knowing that the men would have their heads chopped off.

Shelly Barclay

Book Review: Cereal for Dinner, Cake for Dessert by Laura Wells McKnight

If you're hoping this book contains a miraculous new diet plan that allows high-carbs and plenty of sugar,while still allowing you to lose ten pounds in one month, you may be a bit disappointed. This is not a book about diets or weight loss or weight gain. The book is, however, a delicious treat and may have your mouth watering for fluffy white cake slathered with buttercream frosting after each succeeding chapter.

Read more of this review from Kathleen Krueger. 

Short Story Review: "Cat Calls" by Cynthia Leitich Smith


"Cat Calls" by Cynthia Leitich Smith is a short story that is clearly geared toward young teen women. It is about a girl named Tiffany who is coming into her own living with her grandmother in a traveling circus. The story touches a bit on the girl's back-story, particularly as it pertains to her parents. It is not especially memorable, well written or suspenseful. However, it does the trick. It delivers what it is meant to deliver and leaves the story open at the end so girls can gobble up a little more sexual angst and supernatural mystery.

If there was one thing that could have been hoped for out of this story it would have been more development as far as the setting of the circus. Yes, we get to know that Tiffany and her grandmother have some special gifts, but it is hard to tell whether the rest of the circus is just as gifted or if it is just your typical circus. In this way, Smith manages to take her greatest opportunity and leave it stranded.

Unfortunately, the big twist of "Cat Calls" is evident from about page two or three. There really is no surprise to be had for most readers. Some might find it surprising or tantalizing. I did not. Nevertheless, Smith has found her niche and does well in it, and this story is not terrible. It is just not eerie enough for my taste, especially if I were still a teen girl.

Shelly Barclay

Best Horror Short Story Anthologies


Horror is one of the most beloved genres in literature. Writers like Stephen King and H.P. Lovecraft have made horror visceral and approachable. However, some people like their horror with a quick punch rather than as a long tale. That is what horror short story anthologies are for. The following are single author anthologies, but there are great collections available that include several writers each.

More Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz

Unfortunately, it seemed the thing to do to include only one of the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark series. That is not because only one is good, but because only one is necessary to put this series on the map. I chose More Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark because it contains The Bride, which is my favorite of all these spooky tales. It is written by Alvin Schwartz and illustrated surreally by Stephen Gammell. This is the only collection on this list that is geared toward children. Of course, its status as a children's book is widely challenged because of its violent and gory content. Needless to say, kids love it. I know I did.

Skeleton Crew by Stephen King

Skeleton Crew is a short story anthology by best-selling horror author Stephen King. Some of the stories contained within it are largely psychological, such as The Jaunt. Other stories contain that characteristic in-your-face horror that has made Stephen King a living legend, such as The Mist. This book is a constant hit and never miss.

The Dunwich Horror and Others by H.P. Lovecraft

Since you are reading this, you probably do not need an introduction to Lovecraft. However, if you are experiencing a sudden craving for horror that you have never indulged, thus you do not know of him, read his work. That is all the introduction needed. As for The Dunwich Horror and Others, it is a short story collection typical of Lovecraft. By typical, I mean it is quite awesome. His use of the English language never fails and certainly does not here. Creeping prose, vivid imagery and an instinct for fear make Lovecraft the best of the best. This collection is proof of that. Story of Note: The Call of Cthulhu

Clive Barker's Books of Blood

All right, I said I only added one by Alvin Schwartz for a reason, but one cannot mention the Books of Blood without just chucking them all in for good measure. Some of Clive Barker's horror has gone on to become teen screams, but not in the way one would expect. It is just that he appeals to that audience, not that he has half-naked teen girls in his stories. However, the Books of Blood cater to any audience. I have to suggest that readers start from the beginning so they understand the literal meaning of the collection's name.

Please feel free to leave your horror short story anthology suggestions in the comments or even tell me why you hate mine.

Shelly Barclay

Book Review: The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton

It wasn't only the garden that the little girl at the beginning of Kate Morton's story had forgotten. She'd forgotten her name. She didn't know where she belonged or who she belonged to. It had been a long voyage from the shores of England to the continent of Australia, especially for a four year old. But the childless couple who took her in off the dock knew exactly who she was. She was a child who needed a home, and they were just the ones to give it to her. They gave her a name as well, Nell.

Read more of this review by Kathleen Krueger.