Vasilisa The Wise and Other Tales of Brave Young Women: Retold by Kate Forsyth, Illustrated by Lorena Carrington.
I have most likely in the past gushed about my undying love for Kate Forsyth and her work. I was excited the moment she first posted that she was working on this project with Lorena Carrington. I love her fairy tale retelling novels, so of course I was going to love her book of fairy tale retellings. I got this book straight away and began reading it. However, until now I hadn’t made it past the first two stories. The title includes, ‘tales of brave young women,’ and although Vasilisa and Kaite Crackernuts were brave, I was slightly disappointed both tales ended with the girls getting married. So I stopped reading and didn’t look at the book again until now.
My love for Kate and her work made me rethink; there’s no way I could be disappointing by all of these stories, and so I tried again and jumped in at story number three. This story is a retelling of ‘A Bride for me before a Bride for you,’ and I honestly loved it. I had not read the original, but in Lorena’s comment after the story she reveals how Kate changed the story, in the original the girl was forced to marry the serpent prince, but Kate changed it so she was the brave girl who made the decision, and although she still ends up with a man, she made the choice and ended up in the arms of her hot new husband, who just happens to be heir to the throne meaning she will be Queen… I thought that was pretty kickass. It also made me see the other stories in a new light, these are fairy tales after all and who am I to say the girls shouldn’t get their man and their happy ending?
After ‘A Bride for me before a Bride for you,’ my second favourite story in this book has to be ‘The Singing, Springing Lark.’ I have came across this story in the Grimms’ brothers tales before, but also because Kate told this story in her book, ‘The Wild Girl’ and retold it in her book, ‘The Beast’s Garden.’ This was actually the only story in this book I was familiar with the original. However, it felt like an entirely new tale in this book. How Kate can take the same story and retell it in so many ways I don’t know, but she has done it and it has become more gorgeous every time. If you were ever to read a version of this variant of ‘Beauty and the Beast,’ read Kate’s.
The great thing about the stories in this book is that they all have different origins. They all come from different countries and Kate and Lorena reveal the source of how they first came across them. Meaning I have not only read this book, but came out with a list of other fairy tale books I am now desperate to find and read!
Of course, the other aspect of this book other than the tales themselves, is Lorena Carringtons gorgeous illustrations. The pictures were actually made from montages of separate pictures, and the images of the girls are Lorena and Kates daughters, as Lorena wanted the girls to be real. However, every other image of the fairy tale creatures from the tales were made from items actually found in the forest. Such a stunning idea and very well paid off. Here’s a few of my favourite images from the book:
‘The Singing, Springing Lark’
‘The Rainbow Prince’
‘A Bride For Me Before A Bride For You’
‘The Stolen Child’
It was really difficult to just select four images from this book because every single illustration is beautiful and it was clear that Kate and Lorena shared a vision when it came to the storytelling. I can’t wait to see what they do next, and I would recommend reading Vasilisa the Wise and other tales of Brave Young Women in the mean time.