Bonus Review! Lies, Knives, and Girls in Red Dresses by Ron Koertge, Illustrated by Andrea Dezso

lies knives girls in red dressesThis one is too short to count toward my CBR goal but I didn’t want to leave it off my review list because I really enjoyed it.

Lies, Knives, and Girls in Red Dresses is (are you ready?)  a collection of retold and re-imagined fairy tales.

I love this genre.  I don’t know if it’s possible to have a favorite of any type of book when you love books so much, but fairy tales and folklore are way up on the list, and when they turn into retold tales and urban fantasy, my knees get weak.

There are twenty two stories here, including Rapunzel, the Twelve Dancing Princesses, Hansel and Gretel, the Ugly Duckling, Rumpelstiltskin, Red Riding Hood, and the Princess with that damned pea.

The tales are told as short poems without much introduction.  We know who Cinderella is, so when we hear the aftermath from the stepsisters’ point of view, we don’t need to hear all that crap about the ball again.

To make these stories all the more sweet is the amazing mix between Once Upon and Time and Modern Time.

Cinderella’s stepsisters have surgery instead of their mother hacking off their toes.

Rapunzel’s mother talks about her three times a week therapy appointments.  The prince meets other princes in rehab while he waits for his eyes to heal.

The Little Match Girl is selling her CDs on the corner.  The cops find her dead, but what are you going to do?

A soldier makes a pact with the devil where he’ll wear the bearskin for seven years so his PTSD will stop.

The Beast is a bit bored now.  The weather is perfect, he’s a man again, but sometimes he really misses those fangs.

Hansel and Gretel?  Oh, they are pissed.  So very pissed.

Death makes his godson an amazing football player, poised to win the Heisman.  Things don’t go so well.

If you spit jewels when you speak and your sister spews toads, how on earth to you expect to keep a husband?

When you’re the only one speaking the truth about the Emperor’s New Clothes, how long can you hold out?

The miller’s daughter in Rumpelstiltskin?  Life is so boring after you’ve won a dangerous game.  Surely there’s got to be something much more dangerous out there in the woods.

Little Red Riding Hood is trying to tell the story to her mom, but god, stop interrupting me!  The whole thing was, like, gross?  But whatever.  I let him.  And then some dude shows up with scissors and it’s wicked gay, but whatever, I’m hungry and you need to get off my back, OK?

I love it.

The illustrations are amazing.  Koertge wrote some beautiful lines, but without Dezso’s art, this book wouldn’t have been as good.  The art is all black on white in  woodcut style.  The lines are sharp and deep.  Shadows and movement surround the cuts and you can almost see the red of the blood as it drips down someone’s chin.

Even better?  Dezso is an art professor at Amherst College, so I bet I could go see her work in person somewhere.

Hole.  Lee.  Shit.  She did embroidery of things her mother said to her as a child.  Transylvanian moms are AMAZING!

I need to stop looking at her page or I’m going to stay up for another hour and I should really go to bed.

In conclusion:

If you like folklore, fairy tales and slightly fucked up shit, get this book.  It’s much tamer than the monkey sex in Robert Coover’s Briar Rose but not purified like Disney.


6 responses to “Bonus Review! Lies, Knives, and Girls in Red Dresses by Ron Koertge, Illustrated by Andrea Dezso

  1. Pingback: pyrajane writes a Bonus Review! Lies, Knives, and Girls in Red Dresses by Ron Koertge, Illustrated by Andrea Dezso | Cannonball Read V

  2. I have never been fond of fairy tales but your review of this book, and the fact that the illustrations “make it,” has encouraged me to consider reading it. Good review!

  3. My daughter was given this book to read by her teacher a Bufford Middle. I found the book to be highly provocative for a 13 year old. I found it to be appalling in nature gross and sickening. It definitely is not a childs book at all. I disagree along with several other parents who exclaimed in shear horror of the chosen words the author picked out. It is not for a 13 year old at all. It has sexual content and profanity. What in the world is society putting in our childrens heads,and how could a school allow such a book for our children to read???? Sickening!!! It is not a GOOD read for a child and definitely NOT FOR MINE!!!!

    • Hi there Anna. I’m not sure why you thought this was an appropriate place for this comment as this is just a person’s blog about books and not the NYT Book Review. Sadly, this is not a safe space…

      I too am a parent of a female child. I was also once 13 years old. I hope it’s not shocking to you to suggest that your daughter may have already known about a good many of the words, themes, etc found in that book. If you aren’t sure, a quick check of her google history and a review of her text messages should tell the tale. Go ahead, i’ll wait….. See? Wasn’t that illuminating? And now you have something new to talk to your daughter about! Like the proper uses of the word fuck and in what situations it should be used. Exciting stuff! You can also discuss how human being behave behind closed doors and the proper ways to protect oneself. Brilliant! It seems like maybe you haven’t gotten to those topics yet and sadly it seems like you have some catching up to do. Because if you don’t teach her how to curse properly or about how species create new generations she’s going to learn from her friends and 13 year olds don’t know shit about shit.

      Now I don’t know where you live or what your “society” is putting in your children’s heads, but the fact is that more knowledge given to children and more discussions with children about that knowledge is almost always a good thing.

      • Well Hello right back at ya…. Matt, it doesn’t make a difference where I live. Sure we could leave drawn out boring posts about what you think about another individuals parenting. Or you could work on your own. Seems I have hit a sort of soar spot with the way you personally apply yourself to your reply on this so called private individuals blog. See I posted here because I could. What did I hear a bit of sarcasm?? But of course I did….lol. See not all parents are the same. Not all children are the same. Sadly to say that some children are a product of their parents…like yours. Not everyone’s child walks around with a phone attached to their back pocket. Not every home is dysfunctional, actually some parents have been able to retain full power over their homes and their children. Now I do not care what it is that you decide to talk about with your child, that’s on you. You pick the age and time. As do I. These opinions that you have share them as you may. Not too much value is taken in on them since you are somewhere over there and I am somewhere over here. As far as it being “not a safe space” I have no idea what it is that you mean by that, But safe is as safe as I make it and your threats over the internet are well just idle….they stay right where they are. Now I do not know if you are the personal little blogger owner that got his feelings hurt or up n a twisted knot….but maybe you should go ahead and take the time to pull them out your butt crack,….go ahead I’ll wait……Do you feel better now?

  4. As the parent of a young girl, we strictly follow home school Christian based education. My daughter is 12 years old and so far we have been successful in preventing her from learning how to read so we don’t have to worry about her learning about the Devil or boys.

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