I am always up for a fairy tale retelling, and I’d had my eye on Kate Forsyth’s collection Vasilisa the Wise since it came out earlier this year. I finally read it in September, after I saw Kate speaking on writing historical fiction about womencat the Heroines Literary Festival. If anyone knows about fairy tales, and will inspire and intrigue you enough to want to know more it is Kate Forsyth! I strongly recommend listening to her on Richard Fiedler’s Conversations (Including this one where she talks about Vasilisa, but I think she has spoken with him on there three or four times) – she is sooooo good!
Vasilisa the Wise is a collection of short fairy tales about ‘brave young women’, retold by Kate for a YA audience and beautifully illustrated by Lorena Carrington.
In the foreword, Kate talks about how fairy tales were stories passed from women to girls, to help them as they moved from childhood to womanhood, and from their family homes out into the world. Nowadays most of the fairy tales we read have been retold by men – whether it’s the Brothers Grimm, Walt Disney, or anyone in between. One of the things I adored about this book was that it felt like Kate’s retellings were taking back the stories for girls and women. In each fairy tale in the collection she has put the cleverness, courage, and strength of the young women protagonists at the centre of the story.
Overall I just think this book is divine. As well at the story-telling (which I’m clearly in love with) the images are just incredible – they are created from photos, and I really enjoyed reading the comments from the artist (Lorena Carrington) on the thought behind each image. Similarly, it was so interesting to read Kate’s comments on each fairy tale about her inspiration and some of her reasons for choosing each one.
I think this would make an excellent gift for a fairy tale lover of any age (although I’ve seen it marketed as YA, I think it is suitable down to middle grade readers too), and I was absolutely thrilled to see that Kate and Lorena will be releasing a follow-up next year – The Buried Moon – definitely one to keep an eye out for!
***Vasilisa the Wise***
Source: I bought this online (I don’t think I’ve seen it in store anywhere) – and I’ll probably buy a few more for gifts!
Genre: Fantasy/Fairy Tale (YA/MG)
Read it if you love: Fairy Tales, feminism