Thursday, November 19, 2009

black pearls

“We’re all working from the same dictionary.” That’s Dr. T, my dentist, commenting on the fact that English users are not all writers. I thought of this as I read Black Pearls: a Faerie Strand by Louise Hawes, Houghton Mifflin, 2008. The lyrical language of these re-imagined fairy tales is astounding. Is Hawes really working from the same dictionary as the rest of us?

The dwarf Erin falls in love with Diamonda as she waits for the fateful poisoned apple. “While the wind of envy rattled and moaned, closing its fingers around her hiding place, the two of us spent whole mornings in the blue shadows of the mountains beyond our forest.”

Rapunzel or Rampion? Snow White or Diamonda? The name changes alone signal that our beloved fairy tales have grown up. Did you wonder why Lady Godiva rode naked down Coventry’s single street? “…it was as a penitent that I dismounted, freighted with a secret treasure, at the small cottage where Ebba was being born.”

Hawes boldly travels into dark places with these tales. The surprising twists are perfectly geared to a YA, and even adult, audience. Readers who grew up with Hansel and Gretel, Jack and the Beanstalk and Cinderella will delight in approaching these familiar stories from new angles. Louise Hawes is a master writer. You can trust her to deliver stories worth reading.

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