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Thursday, December 10, 2015
The Seventh Bride by T. Kingfisher
The Seventh Bride by T. Kingfisher is a re-imagining of the old Blue Beard tale.
Plot Description: Young Rhea is a miller’s daughter of low birth, so she is understandably surprised when a mysterious nobleman, Lord Crevan, shows up on her doorstep and proposes marriage. Since commoners don’t turn down lords—no matter how sinister they may seem—Rhea is forced to agree to the engagement.
The style is similar to fairy tales in maintaining a distance, a kind of disconnect, from the characters and their situations. I like Kate Bernheimer's description of character "flatness" (Fairy Tale Is Form, Form Is Fairy Tale) as a way of explaining that distance.
But as much as I love original tales, one reason I enjoy re-tellings and modern versions is that there is a much more personal take on the characters. The Seventh Bride somehow manages a little more rounding of characters while still keeping that disconnect. In the grim, dark elements of this tale there is a feeling of remote observation of events, even though much of the book is first person as related by Rhea. As a result, I couldn't place the story in either the traditional, abstract camp or the modern, psychological/personal camp.
In attempting a new twist on the traditional Bluebeard tale, the book seems to be trying to hard--especially in the descriptions of the previous wives. Since I was unable to really identify with Rhea, the protagonist, or find much interest in the previous wives other than their oddity, the book failed to really satisfy me.
Note: I am in the minority in my opinion. Reviews are very favorable.
"T. Kingfisher is the vaguely absurd pen-name of an author from North Carolina. In another life, as Ursula Vernon, she writes children’s books and weird comics, and has won the Hugo, Sequoyah, Mythopoeic, Nebula and Ursa Major awards, as well as a half-dozen Junior Library Guild selections."
(via T. Kingfisher.com)
Fairy Tale/YA. 2014; 2015. Print length: 236 pages.