Friday, September 16, 2016
The Seventh Bride by T. Kingfisher
This retelling of the classic tale of Bluebeard has got it all. Dangerous tasks, a dastardly villain, magic, high stakes,...and hedgehogs. Because why not?
The story is of young Rhea, a fifteen year old miller's daughter who lives in a world where minor magic is common knowledge, but true sorcerers are hard to find. So it's strange when a sorcerer shows up out of the blue and asks for Rhea's hand in marriage. Too poor to refuse, Rhea is sent to visit the Sorcerer's manor, only to discover that he's been married before. Six times, in fact. With each of his wives having suffered some horrible fate. Young Rhea must fight to outwit the sorcerer before she becomes his next bride...and his next victim.
As I said before, this story is based mostly on the tale of Bluebeard. It's not as dark as Bluebeard, but it isn't too light either. This story is kind of an odd mix. It hits at disturbing material with just what happens to the brides when the Sorcerer gets a hold of them, but you don't actually see it. Then there's the inclusion of Rhea's hedgehog companion that's straight out of a Disney movie and doesn't really feel like it should be in at all.
One of the aspects of the book I like best is Rhea getting assigned certain tests which, if she can complete, she can get out of the marriage. These are definitely the kind of element you like to see in fairy tale stories. The tasks are creepy and complicated, and Rhea has to use cleverness and whatever resources she has to succeed. Rhea's a good character in that regard. She's scared a lot, but she toughs it out and gets through it. She's determined and, while she does have a tendency to cry a lot, she just gets back up and finishes the job.
There are however, some points to the book that take away from the good ones. The first wife, Marie, seems to be pulling the strings when I really wish Rhea would do more things on her own. When *MINOR SPOILER* Rhea does end up failing one of the tests, it's kind of a let down. You get there and it's like, "Really? That's it? Well...okay." It's an anticlimactic end to what was the best part thus far. Also, I really wish the Sorcerer was a bit more threatening. While you see his handiwork spread across the story and you know he's a terrible bad buy, you never see him being a bad guy. He's barely in it and, when he is, he just kinda stands around and barks orders. There is one scene where he torments Marie, be even then I just didn't really feel the threat coming from the guy. The horrible things he did to the brides feels almost like something that someone else did but he took the credit for. I just wanted a little more threat out of the guy.
This book felt like it was walking across a lot of fine lines. Like it couldn't decide if it wanted to be a dark adult book, or a friendlier kid book. Dark or light. Scary or safe. It felt indecisive and so I was indecisive. The good parts are still good, there's nothing particularly awful about it and, if it sounds like something you'd enjoy, by all means check it out at your local library.
Have you read the book? What did you think? Do you want to read it now? What's your favorite adaptation of a fairy tale? Comment below and tell me what you think.
Next time: That doesn't sound very comfortable....