Fairytales fed me throughout my childhood. My mother read them to me as I fell asleep and Disney showed me their magic on Sunday nights. I love the innocence of those fairytales. I see the magic in the world thanks to them. As an adult, still loving the fairytales of my childhood, I learned the original tales were much darker and many beloved characters did not live happily ever after. Instead, fairies were creatures of light and darkness, and most times, to be feared. In the Anthology Snow White, Blood Red, many dark retellings are visible, exploring the darkness.
Unlike the others, the short story, The Princess in the Tower by Elizabeth A. Lynn, took a lighter approach, in her retelling of Rapunzel.
Those who have been reading my blog for a while, or who skimmed through my blog’s page, will know I also wrote a twisting of the Rapunzel Fairytale.
I shared the original tale, as shared by the Gutenberg Project. then shared my retelling, where Mother Gotham is not the evil in the story. She is an empathetic fairy, making a home for the darker things found in our world. My visit to the Alnwick Castle Poison Garden inspired her story.
The Alnwick Garden plays host to the small but deadly Poison Garden—filled exclusively with around 100 toxic, intoxicating, and narcotic plants.
Visitors are strictly prohibited from smelling, touching, or tasting any plants, although some people still occasionally faint from inhaling toxic fumes while walking in the garden.https://www.alnwickgarden.com/the-garden/poison-garden/
The link to my version of Rapunzel is here.
Elizabeth A. Lynn used lighter tones. Most of the fiction I read has a lighter tone to it, to flip her Rapunzel retelling, to provide a clever look at the norms of society rather than magic. Her Rapunzel, Margheritina, was born in the Mediterranean, in an area where the beauty standard is a voluminous woman with an appetite to fit. Margheritina was oddly thin, and would push away her first plate while “others were only into their second portions.”
At last, her mother took her to the doctor to determine what was wrong with her. He diagnosed her with a rare condition, “most common among the daughters of the rich,” anorexia nervosa. A disease without a cure and she would be safest kept at home. Therefore, her mother pulled Margheritina, at thirteen, out of school and locked her up at home.
As Margheritina sewed herself harem pants, listened to rock music, and drank, her mother thought her mad.
As she danced and sang and drank to life, the village considered her quite mad. Margheritina threw herself into her chosen role with gusto.
When the amber bottles were empty and dry she inserted into them bits of paper on which she had written, in her round schoolgirl’s script, I am the princess in the tower.Elizabeth A. Lynn, The Princess in the Tower
Then one day, Federico Dominico Tommaso, better known as Fred, arrived at the hidden lands where Margheritina lived. While not a prince, he was the eldest son of a prominent landowner, destined to great things that “made him twitch.” Upon hearing a woman’s voice belting out the Beatles, he found Venus.
Fred saw Margheritina, not as scrawny as the villagers did, but as beautiful.
They ran away together where they, their children, and cousin’s daughter, ran a restaurant. They lived happily ever after, and yes, to Fred, Margheritina remained his Goddess.
I loved this story so much, with Elizabeth A. Lynn’s clever twist on current social norms and the idea of beauty. They lived happily ever after by striking out on their own and supporting each other. My daughter loved it as well, I had to share after I found it; it was nice to read a fairytale where the girl embraces her journey rather than feeling like a victim.
This is the first story of Elizabeth A. Lynn’s that I have read, and I look forward to reading more in the future. Her narrator’s voice is light and clever. With the heaviness of the past year, this is what I am looking for in my reading.
The Princess in the Tower is in the Snow White, Blood Red Anthology. I have read half of the stories so far, and many are dark and twisted. So beware of the dark and twisted and delight in the light and clever stories within. If you know of other fantasy and science fiction anthologies that play with fairytales and folklore, please share. I am always looking for more to read.