The second season of the acclaimed television show The Witcher came out on December 17th and I, for one, am eager to bingewatch! I vividly remember watching the first season with my mom in the winter of 2019 (which wow, what a different world it was then). I went into it with low expectations (I was skeptical of Henry-Cavill-as-Geralt, who as far as I knew was supposed to be a grizzled old man) and finished it pleasantly surprised that I’d enjoyed it as much as I did.
This November, I finally read the book that the first season is based on—The Last Wish, which is actually the prequel to the series. I don’t know how I missed it (and plan to re-watch the first season to pick up on the clues) but The Last Wish is made up of several rewritten fairytales. Renfri, for example, is a parallel to Snow White! WHAT!
Fairytales generally end the same way: happily ever after. But I’ve never been able to help but feel that it’s a bit of a stretch to ask me to actually believe that they do just sort of float through life happily ever after, so I love seeing follow-ups to, and riffs off of, some of the more popular traditional fairytales!
In Wooden Bones, Scott William Carter explores concerns I’d say were noticeably absent in the original Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi – why being a real boy is necessarily better than being a wooden puppet, for example*, or developing a concept of identity that is not dependent upon being a boy of flesh and bone – while still adhering more or less to the fairytale structure. Pino, the boy formerly known as Pinocchio (because Pinocchio is too long and cumbersome for everyday use, according to Gepetto), discovers that apart from just being a magical boy, in the sense that he became a real boy only with the aid of magic, he truly is a magical boy, in that unlike regular real boys, he has magical powers.
Of course, these magical powers only bring him trouble (as well as helping him get out of trouble by digging himself a bigger hole), but the trouble is what prompts him to come to the realization that it doesn’t matter whether he’s a real boy or a wooden puppet boy: he’s Pinocchio, and perhaps more importantly, Gepetto won’t love him any less for being one or the other. Continue reading
I have not enough space to say all the good things there are to say about The Singing Bones, nor a vocabulary sufficiently stocked to even so much as touch upon a full description of the wonder and delight this volume arouses in me! I mean, for one, I know we really shouldn’t judge books by their cover*, but how can you resist picking this up, knowing that this is a collection of the Grimm’s fairy tales, each tale accompanied by a sculpture in the same vein as the one on the cover?
It gets better. Each tale is presented here as a vignette rather than a retelling, revealing dramatic snippets of each story (the drama is aided all the more by the lighting and setup of each scene), sometimes altogether forgoing any mention of the plot proper. You’ll be exposed not only to a specific adaptation of the tales, but to a new way of interpreting them: Tan acts more as a guide that shows you the sweep of the landscape rather than one that points out all the details.
And if you aren’t completely familiar with the Grimm’s tales, a short synopsis of each of the tales featured in The Singing Bones is provided at the end of the book. It was quite nice to revisit the pages for tales I was unsure or had absolutely no clue about. (In addition to which I’ve blogged about Pullman’s collection of Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm before, so although there are some tales Tan covers that aren’t covered by Pullman, it’s well worth a read.)