Happy Friday the 13th, all! I hope everyone is avoiding bad luck so far today. If you have, you’re luckier than me, because the most unfortunate thing happened when I sat down to read the graphic novel trilogy The Good Neighbors: I discovered a Holly Black series that I simply did not like.
Recently, I found myself in a discussion with my sister-in-law about 80’s and 90’s cartoons and how in retrospect, a good deal of them are really bad, but hell if they weren’t fun when I was a kid. And that in turn brought back memories of the Sky Dancers cartoon. After Sky Dancers was released, it rocketed its way to the number one spot on my list of favorite cartoons, where it remained until I discovered Batman: The Animated Series. That was all for the best, because looking back, I can say with all certainty that Sky Dancers did not deserve the pedestal I put it on. All the same, though, I still have fond memories of the story.
With the new television show coming out next month, I decided to sit myself down and reread The Mortal Instruments series. I just got done with the first book, City of Bones, and I can safely say that I was not blown away by the writing. Now that I’m older and more aware of social justice issues and my own internalized sexism, I definitely loved Clary, our main character, a lot more than I did on my first read through, but the downside to that is that I detested just about everything and everyone else. In theory, the ideas behind City of Bones are fine. The plot is fairly compelling, the relationships between characters give us significant conflict, and the worldbuilding is interesting—but the story doesn’t know what it’s doing half the time, and many of the good things about the book get lost under the bad.
Spoilers for an eight-year-old book up ahead.
It seems that I’m forever rereading fairy stories for my Throwback Thursdays, but today is not going to be an exception. The only really surprising thing about my topic for this post is that Lady Geek Girl didn’t get to it first.
Tithe: A Modern Faerie Tale by Holly Black came out in 2002 and was the formative YA novel of my teenage years. I think I may even say without overstepping that it was the formative novel of my entire friend group. What about it left such an impression?
Slight spoilers after the jump.
Children can have a cruel, absolute sense of justice. Children can kill a monster and feel quite proud of themselves. A girl can look at her brother and believe they’re destined to be a knight and a bard who battle evil. She can believe she’s found the thing she’s been made for. (x)
Holly Black is one of my all-time favorite authors, and I was delighted when I heard that her most recent book, The Darkest Part of the Forest, would mark a return to stories about faeries. While her most recent works dealt with organized magical crime (The Curse Workers series) and vampires (The Coldest Girl in Coldtown), I associate her so strongly with faerie tales that I was eager to snatch up this new one when it hit the shelves. Unsurprisingly, it was an exciting and fresh take on old faerie-story themes.
Some spoilers for the novel below!
You know, I thought that this looked like a good movie until I found out that, like Rise of the Guardians, Epic is based on a children’s book by William Joyce.
I now think that this looks like a great movie. Yeah, I’ll admit that I have a lot of problems with RotG, but they were all forgivable and can be easily overlooked in light of the bigger picture that the story tells. They’re annoying, but they don’t ruin the experience. And that gives me hope for Epic.
The summary for the movie from Wikipedia is as follows:
A young girl named Mary Katherine lives in a cabin in the woods with her father and dog. Her father, Professor Bomba, has long studied a group of warriors who live in the forest and protect it as guardians of good. He often will go into the forest and survey them.
One day, the professor does not return from a hike in the forest, so Mary Katharine sets out to look for him. Hours later, she comes upon a group of glowing, falling leaves. Catching one of them, she is suddenly shrunken down. In her miniscule state, she discovers the group of warriors Prof. Bomba has studied, who are known as the Leafmen. Soon she is forced to assist them in a war against forces of evil known as the Boggans and their villianious leader Mandrake, while trying to find out how to return home.
Awesome! So this is going to be like FernGully, except with a gender reversal. Well, that’s not too bad. Avatar was a rip off of FernGully among others, and it was okay, I suppose. But think of it like this: RotG was about Jack Frost teaming up with Santa Claus to defeat the Boogeyman. And that’s still a good movie.
What I love about William Joyce’s works, from what little I have read of them, is his ability to take stories that everyone already knows on some level and put a unique twist on it. Little-forest-people stories have been told before to varying degrees of success. Normally, we call little forest people ‘faeries’. But as I said, this comes from William Joyce. And though I’m not familiar with as many of his works as I’d like to be, I know enough about them that I’m more than willing to give Epic a chance. And hey, it’s going to have a female lead, and we don’t get too many of those.
I do still harbor some concerns though. I mean, Epic is about little forest people.