The Vast Wasteland

Sheila's rantings, most likely of no interest, on TV, movies, books, music, etc.

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Location: Seattle, Washington, United States

I live in Seattle, am married, have two cats (one is a genius, the other insane), and am a mild-mannered copy editor by day. I love horseback riding, coffee, reading, TV, movies, music, playing (too much) World of Warcraft, and lying on the couch. This isn't a personal blog, but rather a place for me to vent about movies, TV shows, books, music, etc. Thanks for checking in!

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Book Review: Fitcher's Brides

Contains spoilers (although, can you really "spoil" a book that's based on a well-known fairy tale?)
Also, I should warn you that I'm going to give a mini-lecture on fairy tales.

Fitcher's Brides by Gregory Frost is yet another book in the Fairy Tales series. This one is based on the story Fitcher's Bird, which is a similar (yet superior) version of the Bluebeard tale. Superior, because although three sisters are married to a powerful man, and the oldest two are murdered when they discover their husband's secret (he's had other wives, and he's killled them), the youngest sister is allowed to save them herself, with no help from her brothers or father, and there's no "moral" about the evils of women's curiosity. (Perrault's Bluebeard story has a "women shouldn't be curious; it's bad for them" moral tacked onto the end.) Still, it's a dark tale of serial murder, maybe originally to warn females of the possibility of male violence. (Or maybe to warn people about strangers.)

The first 200 or so pages were fabulous. I couldn't wait to read more. The book is set in the late 1800s, in a religious "end of the world" community (which there were so many of at the time). The magnetic preacher of the community is the Bluebeard figure, and the 3 sisters are unable to resist his advances. The descriptions of murder (and sometimes sex and abuse) are pretty graphic.

However, the last 100 or so pages seemed pretty weak to me. I think the book spends too much time with the first sister, and then kind of glosses over the second and third sisters--which is too bad, because it's the youngest sister who's most interesting (and most important to the plot). The ending felt a bit rushed. Also, there were a lot of unresolved issues: Who was Fitcher? Some comments made it seem like he had supernatural powers--did he? And if so, why did he die so easily? Or did he die? Who were the men in the shadowy rooms, and why were they there? Who was the ghost the sisters talked to in their room? (This is the plot point that really bugs me; why spend almost 50 pages on something you're going to totally drop later?) And by what power does the younger sister knit together and heal the bones of her sisters?

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