Fierce Fairytales & Other Stories to Stir Your Soul by Nikita Gill — New Review

Fierce Fairytales was a birthday present from Ally. I assumed it would be short stories, retellings of famous fairy tales with a twist, along the lines of Roald Dahl’s Revolting Rhymes. I didn’t realise there’d be poetry, too, or that the reinterpretations of the classic tales would be more nuanced.

And the more she saw the kindness that was in Cinderella, the more she wanted to take it from her, so Cinderella would understand ho awful life can be.

Fierce Fairytales & Other Stories to Stir Your Soul, Nikita Gill

Fierce Fairytales opens with several pages of the poetry, which was fine, but which I didn’t enjoy as much as the short stories, so I’m glad I didn’t give up before I’d got to the bit I really loved. More than anything, the stories reminded me of things I’ve read on tumblr, which explore motivations of secondary characters in interesting ways. Indeed, Nikita Gill is on tumblr, where you can find some samples of her poems.

A hand is a small price to pay for a magical ship that will take him to Neverland, a place that lives on a star.

Fierce Fairytales & Other Stories to Stir Your Soul, Nikita Gill

The standout works from Fierce Fairytales, for me, were Boy Lost and Badrulbadour, both of which managed to pack a lot of story into a very short space. I enjoyed the longer stories, too, especially the ones about Wendy, Belle and Cinderella. I’d recommend reading this if you’re a fan of these kinds of stories posted on tumblr.

Next, I’ll be reading Jane Austen at Home by Lucy Worsley.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Bend Sinister by Vladimir Nabokov — New Review

My introduction to Bend Sinister was Michael calling me over to help him decipher how to interpret a sentence on the third page. I read a little extra for context, and got caught up in the satisfaction of untangling sentences so that I could understand them. When Michael offered to lend me the book after he was finished, I thought I was in for a difficult-but-rewarding experience. Bend Sinister, beyond the introduction, actually isn’t as challenging to read as I expected. The several chapters I read on the train to Coventry flew by, managing to be both lyrical and yet light.

On other nights it used to be a line of lights with a certain lilt, a metrical incandescence with every foot rescanned and prolonged by reflections in the black snakey water.

Bend Sinister, Vladimir Nabokov

I read for the plot or the characters, and neither the political machinations nor the intellectual professor featured in Bend Sinister are quite my usual cup of tea. Trying to explain what the book is about, therefore, is quite a challenge, because I can only make it sound boring. I can’t easily pin down what kept drawing me through this book, except that it must’ve been some combination of the language and the emotional resonance. I don’t usually read for – or notice – particularly beautiful sentences, but Nabokov managed to write several which were striking without interrupting my reading experience.

The car vanished while the square echo of its slammed door was still suspended in mid-air like an empty picture frame of ebony.

Bend Sinister, Vladimir Nabokov

I didn’t finish Bend Sinister in the best of circumstances. I put it down for several days in a row while I was working 12-hour days, and struggled to ever give it a long enough session to fall back into it. For the first half of the book, I felt the plot almost served as a backdrop to the language and emotions, and I was surprised when the second half became a lot more focused on concrete happenings. The brutality of the ending surprised me, and I’m not entirely sure what to make of the metafictional aspects. Now that Bend Sinister has served as an introduction, I’ll definitely be putting more Nabokov on my reading list. Tentatively, I’d recommend Bend Sinister to people who enjoyed The Outsider.

Next, I’ll be reading Fierce Fairytales by Nikita Gill.

Rating: 3 out of 5.