Sunday, July 15, 2018

Review - Brother. Prince. Snake.

Brother. Prince. Snake.
by Cecil Castellucci
Date: 2012
Publisher: Tor.com
Reading level: YA
Book type: short story
Pages: 32
Format: e-book
Source: Tor.com

A retelling of the Prince Lindwurm fairy tale, Brother Prince Snake is a story of love, sibling rivalry, and how a monster became King.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

I came across this obscure fairy tale just a few days ago on Sarah Beth Durst's page of... well, obscure fairy tales. (If you haven't checked those out, I highly recommend it. The commentary is hilarious.) The story has a sort of "Beauty and the Beast" vibe with some of its themes... although the poor girl in this one has to overlook a lot more than just some fur and horns; this Prince Lindwurm guy sounds totally disgusting.

But he's actually not, at least not in Castellucci's version of the story, which is told by the creature himself. This character has a heart and a soul, even if nobody can see it past his hideous physical appearance. While I thought it would be difficult to relate to a woman-eating monster, his gentle heart and his love for reading won me over. I mean, sure, he's basically a snake with wings (which makes me wonder about the jacket he was wearing at one point), but he's intelligent and compassionate, and who wouldn't love a guy who'll stay up all night talking about books?

As with many of the Tor short stories, there are a few typos, but the rest of the writing is pretty good. And the pace is great. Sometimes when I'm reading one of these, the 32 pages seem more like 320; that wasn't the case here. I was pleasantly surprised at how fast the story clipped along.

Overall, this is one of the stronger Tor short stories I've read. If you like fairy tales, you might enjoy this one, too.

Quotable moment:

"When I see a book, my heart races as though I'm in love," Irinia said.

"It makes me sad that not every book is good," I said. "Not every book can be loved."

"But when I pull a book off a shelf, and examine it, turning it this way and that, inspecting the cover, flipping through the pages and glancing at the words as they flash by, a thought here and a sentence there and I know that there is potential between those pages for love. Even if in my opinion the book is bad, someone else may find it good. Isn't that like love?"

Plot: 4/5
Characters: 4/5
Pace: 5/5
Writing & Editing: 3/5
Originality: 4/5

Enjoyment: 4/5

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 ladybugs



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