I adore fairy tales. Have I said that before? Because I really do. And it's especially interesting seeing the same basic fairy tales retold by the different classics. For instance, both Perrault and the brothers Grimm included Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, and Sleeping Beauty, among others, and it was awesome getting to see how the stories changed depending on year and region.
My thing is, people always say how grim Grimm's fairy tales are. How dark and creepy and bloody, you know? But really, I think they're the most cheerful of the lot. Some of Perrault's fairy tales, notably Little Red Riding Hood and Sleeping Beauty, ended in misery and death....but in Grimm's version, everybody lives happily ever after. I mean, sure, there are some of Grimm's that are pretty dark and gory, but as a whole, they have nothing on Perrault's or even Andersen's.
I love these fairy tales to pieces, but of course there are always a couple - in this case, Chanticleer and Partlet especially - where I just have to wonder what purpose they serve. There's no quest, no adventure, no moral, no nothing.
Let me explain Chanticleer and Partlet for one second, and because it's three stories I'll put it under a spoiler tag. Hopefully it won't get too long.
But anyway, basically nothing happens, more nothing happens, more nothing happens, and then everybody dies in the end without any meaning. I just don't get this story. Most fairy tales originated in stories that parents would tell their kids before bed, either to scare them into good behavior or teach them a lesson or encourage them to be good - thus, most fairy tales have an obvious goal. Don't speak to strangers, listen to your elders, don't make hasty decisions, listen to magical foxes when they give you good advice, be generous and share what you have, et cetera.
Chanticleer and Partlet has nothing. It's not even just an adventure story that might've been told purely for entertainment, because it has no plot or goal or main boss or anything that might drive it along....and of course, everyone dies pointlessly in the end. I know that the brothers Grimm were just collecting pretty much all the stories they could find, but this one seems like such a waste of space to me.
But okay, enough on that subject and back to my actual review. Promise.
It's so refreshing knowing that fairy tales used to be awesome, back before Disney turned them into all sugar and rainbows. And as I already said, I love seeing the differences in the stories from one retelling to another. Cinderella, for instance: in Grimm's version she didn't even have that famous fairy godmother, she had a bird in a tree that brought her gowns and gold slippers to her. She was also called Ashputtel, not Cinderella or Cinderilla. And unlike in Perrault's version, she didn't forgive her horrible step-sisters and give them a home in the castle - she left them behind when she went to marry her prince.
I personally like Grimm's ending better, but that may just be because I'm a horrible, unforgiving person and the step-sisters annoyed me to no end......and also, I want to know what Ashputtel did with the gowns that the bird brought to her. I mean, did she hide them somewhere, or give them back to the bird to be carried away again, or....?
Guess I'll never know. But anyway. My point is, I absolutely adore fairy tales and old folklore, and I've read and re-read all these fairy tales a hundred times since I first learned to read. I never get tired of them. So even despite Chanticleer and Partlet, I have to give this one five stars.