Tuesday, April 17, 2012

BOOK: The Rose and the Beast by Francesca Lia Block

The Rose and the Beast by Francesca Lia Block, 229 pages

Once Upon a Time6

Francesca Lia Block brings her magical, lyrical writing to fairy tales, with her unique vision rewriting some classics stories. Like traditional tales, they are short, briefly hitting the plot points, but her poetic style adds a charm to the modern setting. Most of these are set around Los Angeles, and identifying the original story was part of the fun for me. "Wolf" is the Little Red Riding Hood story, but the girl here is escaping her abusive step-father as she hops a bus to her grandmother's in the desert. The Sleeping Beauty tale, "Charm" is also a dark, dark version, where the main character is also an abused child, living a drug induced life to escape her pain. The sleeping here was the drugs, until she meets Charm, her saviour. Fairy tales were originally written as morality plays, and Block takes modern themes to the old stories in a way that is amazing.

I preferred the stories that were completely modern takes, like the two I've described, but Beauty and the Beast, Rose White and Rose Red, Cinderella, and Thumbelina were also recognizable and wonderfully done. There were a few I didn't recognize - Bones, or Ice. I have become a huge fan of Block, and her style of writing is one of the few magical and poetical that I really enjoy. Weetzie Bat, and then Cherokee Bat and the Goat Guys, were both fairy tale type books set in modern LA. She is usually on the young adult shelves, but she covers some more mature themes that not all young teens would want to read.