by Andrea Blythe
*I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for a fair and honest review *
“There is power in the fact that they enjoyed pleasure for pleasure’s sake and never apologized.”
I’m already a fan of Andrea Blythe’s work, and I’ve been meaning to preorder this (which I will now be doing promptly, as the layout and section art is very attractive and I prefer my poetry chapbooks in print.) However, seeing it available as an ARC, I couldn’t wait to get a sneak peek.
A few months ago, I’d read a compilation of short fiction called Trolls Eye View, which contained a 12 Dancing Princesses story, so this fairy tale was fresh in my mind and I was eager to see how Blythe handled the tale. Blythe is a talented writer, but nowhere does her talent burn brighter than her work in the realm of revisionist, feminist fairy tales.
From poisoner to mother to adventurer to ghosts of their own making, the word I’d use to thread together these vignettes is “haunted” — how do you return to a life of obligation that you never chose, knowing the pleasures that exist when you are given (or take) the option of choice ?
The same way the sisters chose to dance in the fairy realm — so do they choose their own wildly divergent lives after the dancing ends. I favored the Third, Sixth, and Tenth sisters tales — take from that what you will. I think every reader will see some fraction of their own tempestuous spirit — and how it might react to its freedom being taken away — in at least one of these vignettes.
I call them vignettes because they’re not quite poetry and they’re not quite prose either, so maybe “proems” is the word to describe these tales. In a way, it reminds me of the structure of Gayle Brandeis Many Restless Concerns, in that it brings a life to a woman who’s never been given a name, and exists in the liminal space between poetry and prose.
I love the art that introduces each sister, and the Author’s Note was a fascinating read that honestly, I wish had been longer. I love the idea of an essay that corresponds to a themed creative project.
Andrea Blythe’s work never disappoints me, and it makes me eager to read what her next project will be.