What better way to celebrate the holidays than with a good fairy tale or sixteen??
My eyes were just as bugged out as I hope yours are.
So, when I heard about the Myth and Magic: Queer Fairy Tales anthology released by Boldstrokes Books, you can imagine that I was pretty sure that this was my very own Christmas present from the Universe.
As the holiday rush died down and I was faced with immense amounts of back laundry, I made the prompt decision that the clothes would have to wait a little longer while I read at least the first story in the lot. And so, my procrastinating self sat down after clearing out a nest among shirts, pants, socks and dresses, and started to read. The story had the pacing of a writer experienced in the art of short stories and I was quickly taken in by the story of a young and incredibly narcissistic Adalbert.
Peters keeps the old language cadence that one would imagine belonging to a fable or legend and while I’ve read stories where that language has halted the story and felt unnatural, I got absolutely none of that with The Vain Prince. The prose read naturally and even poetically in some places.
“He was under a shadowy tree, and I was veiled beneath the lip of the cave. There was a moonlit glade between us.”
And those are just two of the sentences that made me hold my breath and read the rest of the passage out loud. With an embarrassingly bad English accent.
The premise of the story is simple. An arrogant boy has to get over himself and grow to value other people beyond simply what they can do for him. He has to find a way to look deeper and to find a real companion in another soul. And he must do all of this with the most accepting and loving parents on the planet. I was playing the universe’s smallest violin for him and his terribly privileged plight. To his credit, his arrogance wasn’t entirely his fault. He had been spoiled by overly loving parents who did what parents do, and gave him the best of everything that he asked for because they were just so happy that he’d been born, and ya know, lived and all that good stuff.
For a short story, it was incredible how much I grew to learn about and care for the few characters presented. Almost two stories in one, they were crafted and intertwined beautifully until I found myself zipping through the story…twice. I had hoped that I would have been able to pace myself…the laundry was still waiting after all. But the writing was just too good, and that is at the heart of this tale.
There are twists on a classic theme, but really it’s the writing that takes the cake. The crafting of these characters and the emotions that are conveyed within the space of a few pages, (I can’t tell you how many pages to be exact because my Kindle wouldn’t tell me. Blame Amazon) shows an expertise of the craft that made me want to learn from this author as a writer myself.
Even when I thought I could predict the outcome of the story, the journey and the reveal was incredibly satisfying. The only thing I would have wished was that the ending was drawn out a little longer. That I was able to marinate in the happy ending a bit more and to get more of a feel of the relationship at the end. Did I give too much away? The ending is happy. Alls well that ends well and all that jazz. It made the romantic in me smile and saw “aw.” Sorry if that gave it away.
I’m actually mouthing “not sorry” right now.
Okay, so I loved it. I wished it were longer because it was so awesome. I wanted to go and beg Andrew J. Peters to mentor me in all things written. Go forth…read it, let it make you smile. Allow it to make you feel cozy. It’s procrastination at it’s finest.