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Thursday, December 5, 2013

Literary Review - Sisters: A Fairy Tale by Liz DeJesus

Someone Wicked, a Written Remains anthology, was released by Smart Rhino Publications on November 25, 2013. Edited by Weldon Burge and JM Reinbold, Someone Wicked contains twenty-one tales of wickedness sure to please the most discerning reader.

Over the next few weeks, my plan is to read and review many, if not all, of the stories contained in Someone Wicked. I have not historically been a big anthology reader but having had the opportunity to get to know many of the authors through the Written Remains Writers Guild, I am excited at the prospect of discovering each of their unique and individual writing styles.

Being contrary, and a bit of a scaredy-cat, I began with a story that was somewhat familiar to me. That's not to say that I had read Sisters: A Fairy Tale before; however, I knew some of the characters from the second novel in the author's Frost series: Glass Frost.

Fanny and Elda are sisters. But they are as different as night and day. And they live in a world quite different from ours, a world rich in magic, both light and dark. And this particular peek into their lives is not like any fairy tale I read growing up. In fact, I have only lately discovered that fairy tales can be dark and frightening places.

Liz DeJesus has written a compelling story that draws the reader into the lives of her characters. The fourteen pages of Sisters deliver a fully realized slice of life in this incredible world. Fanny and Elda have both been given a gift by Titania, the Fairy Queen. I won't reveal the nature of these gifts for therein lies the foundation of the story.

It's difficult to write a review that would help one fully appreciate the depth of DeJesus' characters. As I was reading Sisters I tried not to rely too heavily on my foreknowledge. Fanny and Elda are complete, three-dimensional inhabitants of their world; I was drawn into their conflicts, their emotions, and their pain, as if I traveled along with them on their journey to the Fairy Realm.

The narrative and dialogue are excellent and, in my opinion, this is a top-drawer short story. Ms. DeJesus has a gift for writing and clearly loves the world that she has crafted both here and in other, longer works. That love shines through and makes Sisters a clean, crisp read. But be warned, if you linger over long in the Enchanted Wood, you may find yourselves undone by its magic.

Content disclosure: To prepare any potential reader for what they will encounter, I would point out that there is one expletive near the beginning of Sisters and there are some violent confrontations. Hopefully this is to be expected in an anthology entitled Someone Wicked. I would also say this is not a fairy tale for young children.  If I were to give it any sort of rating that might guide parents, I would lean toward PG. There is certainly nothing here that one won't find on network television, but being somewhat conservative, and knowing that some readers of this blog will likewise be conservative, it is important to me to provide this information.

If you choose to read Sisters I believe you will enjoy the brief, but rich glimpse DeJesus has provided into her most magical of realms.


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