Megan Whalen Turner wrote seven “fractured” fairy tales. I love twice-told tales, and slightly sarcastic senses of humor, so I ate this book with a spoon. In the title story, a poor old elf in the modern world gets helped across the street by a girl he has to reward, but she is suspicious of his three-wishes offer. Things go from absurd to funny to sweet in this send-up of that age-old fairy tale motif.
My other favorite is “A Plague of Leprechauns,” when leprechaun-hunting turned tourism threatens the peace of an English village, until the pub owner and the guy who found the little green man in the first place get smart–and cynical. I love this one.
“Leroy Roachbane” is about the wonders of Borax in the ancient world. Time travel, local boy makes good; it’s fun.
My other favorite was “Factory” a rather amusing treatise on the practicality of being a ghost in an industrial society gone wrong. The humor Turner displays in this is wonderful. You have to realize, ghosts stay as they were when they died for eternity. The mom who’s plotting the death of her family is very worried about the fact that her two-year-old granddaughter has a cold. Which would be worse, she muses, to miss the moment and get evicted from their house before crossing over, or to spend eternity with a sick two-year-old? That kind of thing.
“Aunt Charlotte” is about a silkie with a seductive plan. “The Nightmare” will delight every child who’s ever been picked on by a bully (be advised one should not threaten little old ladies in the streets, boys). And “The Baker King” is a fun send-up of youthquests to become rulers.
I liked the stories for their simple, clear language and humor, and also because they exude warmth and compassion. Things work out right for the nice people. The supernatural characters are hysterical in their over-the-topness. The airhead tree nymph from Instead of Three Wishes is wonderful. And the humans are sweet, silly, charming, scary–real. This is intended to be a young adult read, but I’d recommend it for anyone who just wants an hour of escapism and a little faith in humanity restored. Leprechauns and elves can do that for you.