When I came across this one in my preparations for Fairy Tale Fortnight, I was immediately struck by the dark and direct tone of the cover, and took it as an indication of the tales found inside In some ways this is what I got the retellings are gritty and dark and very pared down, stripped of any residual fairy dust and ball gowns Koertge plays on the original tales, in all their dark and twisted glory, but he also plays with our Disneyfied modern expectations.But even though Koertge did sort of give me what I was expecting, it somehow managed to not be quite what I wanted The book is very brief, tackling 23 different tales in less than 100 pages, including illustrations and title pages for each story This means each story averages about 2 pages of well spaced text or free verse, and this means Koertge only has the space of a few blinks of the eye to make an impression with each story blink and it s overI will say, I think Koertge certainly tried to create memorable, concrete images that would linger with the reader, plunging straight into the heart of each with a wry, jaded style There s also a really good mix of well known and little known tales, and Koertge changes up the narration slightly in each tale But even the narration at its most different like Little Red s vapid prattling still has a sameness to it Some readers will appreciate this and feel the sardonic tone running throughout is the thread that holds it all together Other readers like myself will feel that what the book really needs is a shake up The stories, different as they are originally, blend one into the next in Koertge s hands, and in the end, I would have been hard pressed to tell you what happened in which, and how if at all the narrators differed.There just weren t any stand outs Maybe it s because of my admitted immersion in fairy tales maybe others who pick this up on a passing fancy, who don t read and breathe fairy tales, will find this fresh but I felt like I d seen it all before This isn t necessarily bad on its own, because these are retellings, after all so of course I ve seen it before , but if you re going to put forth these little gem retellings, every effort needs to be made to make each and every one memorable in its own way And when they re verse on top of that well, every little bit of space matters No word should be wasted they should all serve a purpose I know I hold things like this to a high standard, but there should be something, some turn of phrase or image or pleasing sound to the language itself that makes each story stand on its own Instead, these felt oh god, you have no idea how much it pains me to write this amateurish I cringe to write that, I really do, but the stories felt like writing prompts or Creative Writing 101 exercises And in the end, whether because of their style or brevity, I quickly forgot them.So maybe others won t feel this way, I don t know Maybe people who don t eat, sleep and breathe fairy tales, and who haven t read a flipping shit ton of short story retellings that take very similar tones and tacks to the ones in this book but do so better, will find this collection fresh and entertaining At the very least, it s easily read in 1 sitting, so I would advise those who are considering picking it up to actually pick it up and flip through a few stories first they re all pretty much the same, so if you like one, you ll probably like them all And if instead you re looking for short fairy tale retellings with a variety of stories, styles, and twists, I cannot recommend enough the fairy tale anthology series edited by Terri Windling and Ellen Datlow Especially Silver Birch, Blood Moon, which I adore. My first read through of this modern retelling of many well known fairytales left me a little cold Okay, they re clever, but maybe a little too clever, too edgy, too precious So, believe it or not, I decided to give it a second chance What I m sure I ve done that once or twice in my life.So the second time through, the stories sort of grew on me There were subtleties I missed first time, probably when I was rolling my eyes I wasn t in love with all the stories and I was confused by the inclusion of the story of Bluebeard Isn t that a pirate story The author was inspired by Grimm s fairytales, orlikely responding to the Disneyfication of these tales They re retold in the current day A similar theme runs throughout It seems Ever After might not be such a happy place The life characters have longed for are not entirely what they d hoped What originally appears to be a gift may also be a curse The beast in Beauty and the Beast states We re happy now We re very, very happy But I have to admit there s not much to do in Ever After It s always sunny and 78 degrees Every night the fireworks light themselves The prince in Rapunzel But sometimes I go to the window instead and close my eyes and Rapunzel says, Sweetheart, what s wrong And, God help me, I m not sure I even know myself Cinderella s not so innocent and the evil stepsisters may have been misunderstood.The artwork in the book is wonderful It is mostly black and white except for the book cover paper cutouts Please note the cover because it s pretty cool The illustrations are very bold and very graphic Even without the use of color, you know there s blood and gore Which brings me to a final point, who is book written for Not kids obviously What doesn t terrify them will go right over their heads And I think it s a little too mature for preteens So maybe teens who enjoy graphic novels but are open to other experiences might get a kick out of it. To enjoy this book, you probably need two things a strong gut and a wicked sense of humor I have both, so almost all of this book was an absolute pleasure for me to read, if only because it was so very darkly amusing Free verse poetry is my favorite kind of poetry, and every single one is as creative a satire as the last Things these days are going back to darker and edgier all the time and this does just that to all the favorite fairy tales, but in a way that relates to now mentions of GPS and iPods are not uncommon between the twisted thoughts of the characters about whether or not they want to be saved or killed Bluebeard The violence isn t all that graphic mostly it s just frank the illustrations aregasp worthy than the poems themselves , but if you have a vivid imagination as I do, the strong gut will come in handy Honestly, I just wanted the theme to Dexter the television series playing during my entire reading of it.As a side note, my very favorites were The Emperor s New Clothes An Afterword and Red Riding Hood, Home at Last, Tells Her Mother What Happened. I found the art to be the most entertaining part of this book The fairy tales not so much Parts of them were alright, but most felt either rushed or poorly constructed, plot wise The author took major poetic license, twisted the stories which is what I expected but rather than lending them intrigue or satire, they just were confusing and oh so desperately trying to be controversial or edgy You know, if you find incest and copius amounts of profanity to be hip In closing, it s a quick read, so if you re looking to boost your book count for the year, it s easy to get through without resorting to an actual kids book to do so though, you d probably be better off Some of it is laugh out loud ridiculous, though, I doubt that was the intended result Kids should stay away from this, but late teens and adults, read, but with the idea that it s not as promising as it seems, though I m sure some will still enjoy its absurdity. If you like your fairy tales warm and chaste with no pesky disturbing sexual undertones, then dear God in heaven run from this book as fast as your innocent little legs will carry you Ron Koertge re imagines a whole herd of fairy tales in wildy creative free verse diddies Some will make you squirm Some will make you laugh out loud Some will make you wish you had some penicillin All of them are inspired little explosions of unique craft that do not play nicely At all.The fairy tales aren t for children any concept is not new, but rarely has it been boiled down into a lean, mean outburst of disobedient glee like it is here I ve re read Red Riding Hood, Home at Last, Tells Her Mother What Happened over and over again and snorted with delight every time yes, that is incredibly unflattering imagery I just used, but so be it it s true Memoirs of the Beast tantalizes with its longing over things lost after the happily ever after with Beauty Hansel and Gretel is a nasty little thing and awesome for it , and The Frog Prince is just a wonderfully evil little trifle about the hypocrisy of sexual objectification.This kind of thing is certainly not for everyone But for those intrigued by the idea of a first rate poet remixing fairy tales into throbbing little tales of hidden desires or at the very least, bringing those latent feelings already present in fairy tales to the forefront with a wicked sense of humor and a dark, dark heart this will do the trick I love fairytales.I love retellings.I love short stories.I love free verse.I love silhouettes.I did not love this book.I wanted to so badly to dive into this and squee with dark horror delight but it just wasn t for me.I found the bits to be something I ve seen before And some of this just seemed thrown together Rushed That s not saying that it s bad that s just saying that I m picky I just never got that WOW moment.The pictures throughout the book are very nice In my opinion, if you are looking for a short fairytale retelling with a poetic side you should check out The Rose and the Beast Fairy Tales Retold by Francesca Lia Block.I will give you a warning This book shouldn t be read by young ones that you don t want to hear cussing or sexual references While I understand this is YA, the cover might make the little ones think it s for them. Yes It S Blue And Yes It Tickles And Yeshe S Had A Lot Of Wivesand Nobody Knows What Happened To Thembut He S Fun At The Party And Omigodthat Castle Once Upon A Time, A Strung Out Match Girl Sold CDs To Stoners Twelve Impetuous Sisters Escaped Daddy S Clutches To Jiggle And Cavort And Wear Out Their Shoes Bluebeard S Latest Wife Discovered She D Married A Serial Killer And Little Red Riding Hood Confessed That She Kind Of Wanted To Know What It S Like To Be Swallowed Whole You See, Ron Koertge Knows What Really Happened To All Those Wolves And Maidens, Ogres And Orphans, Kings And Piglets Of Fairy Tales, And He Knows About The Ever After So Come Closer He Wants To Whisper In Your Ear Written in poetry form, this modern retelling of a classic but disturbing fairytale wasn t really a bad idea, but it just ended up being really lame, like if Twilight and a Lifetime movie were blended together The characters were shallow and boring, and it was hard to relate to them. Interesting collection of fractured fairy and folk tales told in the form of poems They re all rather dark and grim, and those based on Grimm fairy tales are obviously taken from the original violent and unexpurgated versions None of the poems really stood out to me, but teens would probably enjoy them.