Tuesday, July 17, 2012

ARC Review: Lies, Knives, and Girls In Red Dresses by Ron Koertge

Publisher: Candlewick Press
Publication Date: July 10th, 2012

Writing in free verse honed to a wicked edge, the incomparable Ron Koertge brings dark and contemporary humor to twenty iconic fairy tales.

Once upon a time, there was a strung-out match girl who sold CDs to stoners. Twelve impetuous sisters escaped King Daddy's clutches to jiggle and cavort and wear out their shoes. A fickle Thumbelina searched for a tiny husband, leaving bodies in her wake. And Little Red Riding Hood confessed that she kind of wanted to know what it's like to be swallowed whole. From bloodied and blinded stepsisters (they were duped) to a chopped-off finger flying into a heroine's cleavage, this is fairy tale world turned upside down. Ron Koertge knows what really happened to all those wolves and maidens, ogres and orphans, kings and piglets, and he knows about the Ever After. So come closer
- he wants to whisper in your ear.
(Courtesy of Goodreads)

This book was an interesting take on the increasingly popular (and favorite of mine) Fairy Tale Retelling genre.  A quick, engaging read, Lies, Knives, and Girls In Red Dresses is a compilation of several mostly lesser-known (re: haven't yet been raped by Disney) fairy tales, retold in quick, lyrical verse.  Often humorous, always dark, these retellings capture the gist of the original tales, modernizing them, while for the most part, not losing the original cautionary nature.  I didn't like every one. In fact, there were a few that I thought sucked, but there were at least twice as many that I loved.  I thought The Little Match Girl,  Bear Skin, The Robber Bridegroom, and Hansel and Gretel were great, and I especially loved The Princess and the Pea: A Monologue and Red Riding Hood, Home at Last, Tells Her Mother What Happened.  I like dark wit and humor, and those traits abound in this book.  I also need to comment on the illustrations; while I don't know if I would like them alone, they fit the context of this book brilliantly, so kudos to illustrator, Andrea Dezso.  

My biggest complaint about this book is that I don't really think it has much of a market, which is sad.  I think the vast majority of YA readers aren't going to get it or find it interesting, and it's not really appropriate for younger readers.  I think it really takes an adult mind to appreciate it, and I think most adults won't give it a fair shot because of its length (a mere 96 pages) and subject matter.  Of course, they would be mistaken...

My Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★  

Grade Level Recommendation:  This book would be best suited for a more intellectually-minded, older teen or adult.


  1. I have this out from the library right now. I haven't flipped through it, but my impression is that adults would like it better than teens.

  2. I must admit, I hadn't heard of this book, but it sounds really good! Definitely going on my TBR list :)

  3. I was originally drawn to this review because of the eye catching book cOver and I'm happy that I was. This sounds like an amazing book - I love anything fairy tale related. Thank you for putting it on my radar


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