Monday, 13 February 2017

Fairy Tales and Peculiar Resolutions




Just about every year I resolve to add a new genre or sub-genre to my reading repertoire. As a library assistant I feel pangs of guilt when I'm unable to recommend the right book to someone - though I swear this rarely happens! Over the past few years I've resolved to get into crime, paranormal romance, historical fiction, etc etc. I haven't yet succeeded in fully diving into any of them.

Teen fiction has been one of my "must get into" genres for a while. Being a fairly advanced reader in childhood, by the time I got the appropriate age for teen fiction I was passing them over for more serious, literary adult fiction tomes that in hindsight I barely understood. So, there's a giant gap in my adolescence where I missed out on the Hunger Games and Twilight's of  my time.

However, each time I've picked up a work of teen fiction, it's failed to grab me. I cringe at the self conscious descriptions of outfits and the hammy dialogue. Ever an optimist, I kept telling myself that eventually I would find a work of teen fiction that I would love, and I finally did!

I decided to jump on the Ransom Riggs bandwagon and have a go at reading Tales of the Peculiar, and I'm so glad! If I'm honest, I'd decided to read it based on the beautiful cover alone (all books should look like this!) but after realizing the connection to Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children (also a work of Riggs) I was sold. Those more ahead of the times might have seen the film by now, however it's *still* on my to do list!

Much unlike the teen fiction I'd encountered, Tales of the Peculiar is beautifully written in a way that's complex without being inaccessible to a teen audience, and totally devoid of cringe-worthy outfit descriptions and unnatural 'cool' slang. Essentially a collection of fairy tales, this book reminds me of my favourite authors of magical realism: a little bit Angela Carter in prose, and a little bit Italo Calvino in dark humour. While they all hint at some sort of moral lesson (or lessons) they're not as straight forward as many other fairy tales, allowing the reader to bemuse for a good while after closing the book. The brief sojourns into darker territory (capitalism, cannibalism, greed, murder) are chilling without being *too* scary. Perfect for teens but also wonderful for adults, I would recommend it to just about anyone looking for a good old fashioned cautionary tale, and for anyone who might have grown up on things like Struwwelpeter!

I will definitely be seeking out more teen fiction in the same vein - and you can borrow it here if you'd like to read it too :)