Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Once Upon a Time 4 Challenge and a book review!!

It's here, it's here, it's finally here: Carl's spring challenge, Once Upon a Time IV, is here. I was piling up the books I'd been gathering for the challenge, on Sunday, and one book just fell into my hands and I opened up the first page and started reading......now that's magic! So I've already finished a book for this challenge! Like Carl, I also have a large list of books that I want to read for this challenge. I plan to do Quest the Third : Quest 2 Read at least one book from each of the four categories. In this quest you will be reading 4 books total: one fantasy, one folklore, one fairy tale, and one mythology, combined with Read a Midsummer Nights' Dream in June.

The novels I plan to read: (or at least dream over)
Tooth and Claw - Jo Walton (fantasy)
Tam Lin - Pamela Dean (folktale)
Little, Big - John Crowley (fantasy)
The Book of Lost Things - John Connolly (fairy tales)
The Court of the Air - Stephen Hunt (fantasy)
The Sea of Trolls - Nancy Farmer (myth)
Lament - The Faerie Queen's Lament - Maggie Stiefvater (faerie)
Unshapely Things - Mark del Franco (fantasy)
First Among Sequels - Jasper Fforde (fantasy)
Forests of the Heart - Charles de Lint (myth, fantasy)
Bone Crossed - Patricia Briggs (faerie)
Urban Shaman - C.E. Murphy (fantasy)
GreyWalker - Kat Richardson (fantasy)
Jack the Giant Killer - Charles de Lint (folk and faerie) - DONE!!
Drawing Down the Moon - Charles de Lint (faerie)
Blood and Iron - Elizabeth Bear (faerie)
Fool Moon - Jim Butcher (fantasy)
The Time Travelers - Bk One of The Gideon Trilogy - Linda Buckley-Archer (fantasy)
Riddlemaster (Riddlemaster of Hed trilogy) - Patricia McKillip (fantasy)

Short Story Collections for the Short Story Weekends:
We Have Never Talked about My Brother - Peter S. Beagle
Black Heart, Ivory Bones - Datlow and Windling, eds.
Harrowing the Dragon - Patricia McKillip

Assorted others:
The Complete Fairy Tales of the Brother's Grimm ed by Jack Zipes
Transformations - Anne Sexton (collection of fairy tale poems)
A Midsummer Night's Dream - William Shakespeare + possibly viewing a movie or better yet, finding a BBC production of the play

I have to say a word about the artwork chosen to head the banner for this year's challenge. I love it. It's perfect, dark and scary and mythic, and fairy tale looking and just - everything.

So, on to my first review!!:
Jack the Giant Killer - Charles de Lint

This was one of the first books written in the Fairy Tale series edited by Terry Windling. They are comprised of fairy and folk tales rewritten by contemporary fantasy writers. Most of them are excellent. I had never read Jack the Giant Killer before, although I had owned a copy at one time. Sometime in the last year I have made the decision to read, and re-read, all of Charles de Lint's books again over the next several years. I had come across Jack the Giant Killer sometime the past year again and bought it. So when I was looking over my books and it fell into my hands, I opened it up, and immediately I was swept away and I knew it was time to read it.

What a wonderful folktale retelling!! Who doesn't know the story of Jack and the Beanstalk? Only this time, Jack is a girl (Jacky Rowan), and she is drawn into the world of faerie one night when she is out wandering in a park upset over being dumped by her boyfriend. She sees a small man getting hurt, and when she goes over to help him, she is too late, but she picks up his red cap without thinking. Red caps allow you to see the fairies around us, and into their world. She doesn't have much time, for by trying to help the little man, she has drawn the attention of the Hunt - wonderfully imagined as bikers!

I'll let you guess how she lives up to her name of giant killer, though I will say there are no magic beans, no cows or donkeys, no mad mother. I was caught up in this fairy tale retelling, delighting in the combining of modern Ottawa with the fairies living among us, just out of sight, in the world. Jacky is a fun and brave heroine, very charming and courageous, and in true fairy tale spirit, she gathers a small band of helpers as she seeks to rescue the faerie princess from sure death at the hands of the Unseelie Court. Jack the Giant Killer is delightful and a wild romp through faerie at a breathtaking speed - really, everything occurs over a matter of 4 days and nights, I think. And it's fun. I think it might be among the best of Charles' books, and I am so glad I finally discovered it. I can't recommend this highly enough. It has everything you want in a fairy tale. It was a real surprise also at how well it has held up - like the best fairy tales, this one is timeless. The book might be over 20 years old now, but the story - ageless.

A note on the edition I have - I have the paperback edition called Jack of Kinrowan, which combines in one volume Jack the Giant Killer and Drink Down the Moon, which were published separately. It features a lovely Thomas Canty cover.

I know some of you have noted that I picked this as both folktale and faerie tale. It has both elements, is based on a folktale, and definitely has faeries! Since I plan to read more for this challenge, I'm making this count for my folktale reading for the challenge. And as always, my list can change and be added to at any time!

Happy Challenge reading, my Gentle Readers! I hope you have lovely piles of fantasy and fairy tale books calling to you to read them now, too.


StephanieD said...

I love your list; there are quite a few books on there I've never heard of. I loved the Book of Lost Things - I hope you get to read that one.

DesLily said...

hmmm the book of lost things was good (read that 2 yrs ago i think)
the sea of trolls is another good one! (the whole series of that is good).. I read the Riddlemaster of Hed eons ago! so a review of that would refresh my memory!.. glad you have joined Susan!!!!

Cath said...

I have that same edition of jack the Giant Killer as you... at least I think so, it has two books in it anyway. Haven't read it yet so maybe that's an extra one for me for the challenge. I also have a Jasper Fforde book on my pile, The Eyre Affair.

A good list anyway. Yaaay! for The Sea of Trolls and I enjoyed The Book of Lost Things too. Lots of great reads there and I look forward to reading about them.

Debi said...

"or at least dream over"...LOL. Well-said! :D

And wonderful review! That really sounds like a great retelling, and yes...you've forced me to add it to the monstrosity I call a "wish list."

Elise said...

I have never been a big fantasy reader but am participating in this challenge as I can't really pass up a fairy tale, princesses and magical escapades! Thanks for that review, it sounds like a great book and I will certainly have to check it out!


Daphne said...

You know how much I love de Lint! This sounds wonderful. I have to hop on the OUAT bandwagon and pick my books!

GeraniumCat said...

That's a great list as always, Susan - I loved The Court of the Air and Forests of the Heart (I'm absolutely sure you'll love that one!)

I'm so impressed that you've finished your first book - it sounds good. I want to read some more de Lint but I couldn't decide which one and he's not an author you just come across in a bookshop here, which is a pity. Not a single copy of his books in the library either (our library is hopeless - I've had Guy Gavriel Kay's Ysabel on order for ever, so I am beginning to think it must have drowned in the floods they had last year. No good putting in on my list.)

Susan said...

StephanieD: thanks! Are you joining the challenge too? the Book of Lost Things is one of those 'must read' this time around.

DesLily: I know, you and Cath have been reading The Sea of Trolls and sequels! "The Riddlemaster of Hed" was one of my favourite fantasy series for the longest time, so I'm hoping I enjoy it as much this time. thanks, you know it's a great challenge we all love!

Cath: thanks! I like my list though everyone else's lists always make me think, "sure, I could read that one, or why didn't I think about it?" lol I hope you get to The Eyre Affaire, I really have enjoyed that series. I think you will too.

Debi: there are always books to dream over, aren't there? that would be a good title for a blog, wouldn't it? lol and yaaay for adding to your pile! lol we missed you, so glad you're back, Debi!

Elise: I'm so glad you are in the challenge also! I'll come see what you're planning on reading for the challenge :-D

Daphne: yaay! you're joining too! I'll come see if your list is up - I'm catching up on who's in the challenge, still. A de Lint you haven't read either! It really is a good fairy tale retelling. I hope you can find it!

Geraniumcat: I remember you reviewing Forests of the Heart and I loved that review! I've heard good things about the Court of the Air too, including the bookseller of the store I bought it from and he doesn't read a lot of fantasy.

Sorry about your library woes, too. Our library specializes in hard covers, which is bad for my back, so I don't utilize it as much as I could. Even if you request a copy, and they have softcover, they give you the hardcover! That is pretty bad that a book that is a nominee for an award isn't picked up by more libraries. Can you make suggestions to the librarian? we can hear. Not sure if it ever works, it might just be a PR move because Ottawa is so large now! I'll come see your list too :-D now that it's up!

Nymeth said...

Oooh, Tam Lin, Little Big, The Book of Lost Things! Wonderful list, Susan. As for the De Lint book...sigh, I've wanted it for ages and now I want it even more :P

Kailana said...

I love this challenge! Glad to see you are joining in, too. Lots of great books listed.