Lies, Knives and Girls in Red Dresses – Ron Koertge

Synopsis from Goodreads.
Writing in free verse honed to a wicked edge, the incomparable Ron Koertge brings dark and contemporary humor to twenty iconic fairy tales.
Once upon a time, there was a strung-out match girl who sold CDs to stoners. Twelve impetuous sisters escaped King Daddy’s clutches to jiggle and cavort and wear out their shoes. A fickle Thumbelina searched for a tiny husband, leaving bodies in her wake. And Little Red Riding Hood confessed that she kind of wanted to know what it’s like to be swallowed whole. From bloodied and blinded stepsisters (they were duped) to a chopped-off finger flying into a heroine’s cleavage, this is fairy tale world turned upside down. Ron Koertge knows what really happened to all those wolves and maidens, ogres and orphans, kings and piglets, and he knows about the Ever After. So come closer
– he wants to whisper in your ear.

“Do you want to sleep? Find another story teller.
Do you want to think about the world in a new way?

Come closer. Closer, please.
I want to whisper in your ear.”

Initial Final Page Thoughts.

High Points
Interesting new perspectives on fairy re-tellings . Great selection of fairy tales- some that I’ve only heard of in passing. Creepy. Illustrations. The macabre. Who said Ever After has to be happy? Imaginative. Princess in a coma. “Solar panel poetry machine with biceps”. Men in tights.

Low Points.
I think the difficulty with reading and reviewing anthologies of poetry (or short stories, for that matter) is that there will always be a few of them that you don’t really like.
The main problem I had with this was that all the poems got a bit similar. The fairy tales were inverted- the princes weren’t perfect and neither were the princesses. The beast was an alright guy. Hansel and Gretl were ruthless killers.
I just sometimes felt like I was reading the same story over and over again.
I mean, I love Diet Coke but would I want to drink it every day of the year?
Um… actually, that’s a horrible example because yes, yes of course I would.

It’s funny, actually, because I read this book as part of my A Week in Verse feature on my blog but I don’t think that writing in verse actually did Koertge’s ideas any favours. A lot of the stories/poems had some absolutely great ideas but they didn’t go into the depth that I wanted.
I kind of felt that his ideas were bogged down the verse (and made them just OK) and the verse watered down his ideas (and made them just Ok).
If that makes sense?
With that in mind, I’m not sure whether this would be a good place to start your journey in the land of verse… but I’d still recommend it to people who had already moved in and settled.

Theme Tune.
Frou Frou – I Need a Hero.
Not bad but not as good as the original.
Because Bonnie Tyler is a goddess.

Sadness Scale Grimmness Scale.
7/10. Eeeeh some of these poems/stories were grimm .
There are countless mentions of sex and drugs and murder and themaleanatomy so if that’s not really your kind of thing then I’d be hesitant to recommend this to you. The imagery is pretty stark and, on occasion, it didn’t really feel like it was necessary to the story.
That might just be me… sensitive soul, y’know.
But, of course, the joyful thing about short stories and poems is that you can just skip or skim the ones you don’t like or aren’t interested in.
There’s also blood and guts (hurraaaah) and these are perfectly accompanied by the dark and twisty illustrations by Andrea Dezso.
Sometimes you just need the visual of someone slicing and dicing, don’t you?

Recommended for.
People who like their fairy tales retold. People who have ever wondered what the Beast really thought of his marriage to Belle. People who don’t trust creepy blonde children who leave trails in wooded areas.

I received a copy of this book from the publishers via Netgalley.

Gratuitous James Dean Picture.

This book is part of my “A Week in Verse” feature.

You can find out more about this and why James Dean is getting involved here.

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