Thursday, September 11, 2014

The Asylum for Fairy Tale Creatures

I  heard about this book on SurlaluneThe Asylum for Fairy Tale Creatures by Sebastian Gregory, and because it was so cheap and had gotten such good reviews overall, I ordered the Kindle version for myself (Currently only $2.30!).
There was a time when I would have looked forward to reading any dark, creepy collection of fairy tales, but because they've become so trendy, we've seen lots of dark fairy tale retellings and not all of them are the best of quality, so I was wary of this book that was just published but already so cheap. But I was pleasantly surprised-it reminded me a bit of Tanith Lee or Angela Carter-very dark, violent, and gory, but it gave you different ways to think about fairy tales or the certain elements of the stories (This book has no sexual content, though, although still definitely not for children, despite the cartoonish cover).

The book description:
 "Once upon a nightmare…

Long ago, in a land where imagination meets the darkest nightmares, they built the asylum. Surrounded by a forest of thorns, it holds the most twisted minds in the fairy tale kingdom: a terrible collection of evil creatures and forgotten souls. Imprisoned within its walls, they are doomed to spend forever after telling their tales… and serving as a warning to others.

Now, you are invited to accompany Blood Red Riding Hood into the depths of this strange place – where you will meet its even stranger inhabitants. But be warned: walls this thick were built to withstand the darkest magic… so once you’re inside, you might just find yourself living horribly ever after… and wishing you were indeed in a land far, far away."
Image from here

The premise deals with the fact that the plots of fairy tales really, truly, are dark and disturbing. If we really take the tales at face value we realize each of the characters has gone through something extremely traumatic-a wolf attack that also killed your grandmother, your stepmother and sisters making you a slave, being isolated from the world in a tower.  (See my recent post on the effects of verbal abuse that Cinderella might have dealt with). If you really think about the effect these situations would have on a person, many of those characters really might lose their sanity just from the trauma-not to mention that some people wouldn't believe your incredible story and assume you lost your mind.

I liked the writing style; it hooked me in. It's decidedly creepy. This book gives you all the chilling aspects of a creepy ghost story-considering the fact that October's not far away now and we tend to be more inclined to like spooky stories this time of year, it would definitely be worth checking out if you tend to like the more chilling aspects of fairy tales. Plus it's a pretty short read.

I was kind of surprised to find many obvious punctuation errors, they must have been cheap on editing? It was a little distracting but not too much so.

The beginning of the Introduction, "Once Upon a Time":
"Once upon a forever more, a long time ago in the dark place where imagination and nightmare met, they built the asylum. Surrounded by a forest of dense thorns and crumbling on a precipice falling to an infested monster sea, the asylum held the most insane in the entire fairy tale kingdom.

To be poor abandon children in the forest, left to the whims of the nearby witch in her gingerbread house-imagine how frail your mind would become. Imagine the trauma of finding a house inhabited by bears who think they are people. How about being a boy made of wood who can think and talk yet is ridiculed and shunned. Or a girl given to a reclusive beast by her own father. It would be enough to drive a person to madness. And so many of the fairy tale creatures went skipping into the comfort of insanity."


  1. Replies
    1. You're welcome-thanks for stopping by!

  2. I don't know. Ever since reading Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, I tend to find madness more funny than scary. But then, I tend to find humor in the strangest places.

    1. Trust me, this is a totally different form of madness than Alice and Wonderland (which I also love and find hilarious). Very violent and gruesome in parts-definitely more like horror

    2. Well, I don't tend to go to fairy tales when I need my horror fix. I look to fairy tales more for their seriously crazy fantasy ideas. For example, I love how in fairy tales when someone's searching for someone, it's perfectly rational for a character to say "I haven't seen him, but go to the Sun's house and ask him. He sees almost everything."

      Not that I dislike the spooky side of folklore. I just tend to go for ghost stories when it comes to that stuff. In fact, keep an eye on my blog for the month of October. It might start to look a little spookier for a while. Bwa-ha-ha-ha!

  3. oooh sounds very good. Thanks for the recommendation!

  4. Love the concept of this, will definitely have to have a read once I've got my uni books out of the way!