Title: The Wilful Eye (Tales from the Tower #1)
Author: short collection story by 6 authors, collected and edited by Isobelle Carmody and Nan McNab
Page count: 302 pages
Rating: 2/5 stars
Trigger warnings for the book: mixing of reality & fantasy, drugs, murder, diseases. They`re based on classic fairytales, so don`t expect any Disney-esque sweetness.
Spoiler warnings for this review: there are some spoilers in here, though I tried to make them vague.
A dozen of the most exciting and unique writers for young people have chosen fairytales as starting points for their own original stories, in this surprising and spellbinding two-volume collection
Margo Lanagan (Tender Morsels), Rosie Borella, Isobelle Carmody, Richard Harland (Worldshaker), Margaret Mahy (The Seven Chinese Brothers), and Martine Murray (Henrietta There’s No One Better) have taken inspiration from stories that have shaped us all, tales like “Beauty and the Beast,” “The Steadfast Tin Soldier,” and “The Snow Queen.” This collection carries universal themes of envy and desire, deception and abandonment, courage and sacrifice. Characters are enchanted, they transgress, they yearn, they hunger, they hate, and, sometimes, they kill. Some of the stories inhabit a traditional fairytale world, while others are set in the distant future. Some are set in the present and some in an alternative present. The stories offer no prescription for living or moral advice and none belong in a nursery. Open the covers and submit to their enchantment.
The Wilful Eye is a short story collection based on fairytales, written by (mostly?) Australian authors. At least as far as I`m aware this is Australian, though I`ll readily admit that I didn`t really bother looking up every single one of these authors.
The fairytales these stories are based on are not the Disney versions. Oh, no. They`re dark, they`re gritty, they deal with modern (and not-so-modern) problems. There are drug addictions, there are gangs and dangerous parts of cities and monsters mixed in with it all.
I have to start by admitting this: I did not like this book. I`m starting to feel I`m not much of a short-story-collection kind of person, but I also simply just did not like these stories. In fact, I even skipped one or two of them. The rest of them do not stand out in my mind as particularly good either.
Although I finished reading it in April, it took me more than a month to read these in the first place. I don`t remember exactly when I started reading, but it was either in February or in early March. Either way, it took me way too long. It took so long because right from the very first story I did not like it. I skipped the first one because I couldn`t figure out what was going on. I ended up trying to read one short story in between every full book that I read, just to switch to “let`s force myself through this as quickly as possible so I can be rid of it and get it off the TBR-stack”.
As such, my general feelings towards The Wilful Eye as a whole can be summarised with a simple “meh”. Were there any stories that stood out? Well, yes.
I did like the story about Beauty and the Beast. At least, at first I did. The ending did ruin it for me, though I can`t pinpoint what it was that made me go “oh fuck this”. There was one story, I think it was the one about the tin soldier, that I did like. I thought that one was very interesting and had a good storyline and a good ending. if a bit cheesy and cliched. But I like cliches, so it`s all good.
Still sad that I only actually liked about 1,5 story out of the 6. It was still better than some things I`ve read this year, but I will not be buying the second book of Tales from the Tower. Alhough I do for some reason feel a need to keep this first one. Maybe one day I`ll reread it and actually like it. For now though? Meh.
If you have read this book, let me know down in the comments what you thought of it! As per usual, don`t let my review keep you from trying something you might be interested in. If you`re interested, go read it! Have fun 🙂
Take care, and I`ll see you guys soon 🙂