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Kissing the Witch: Old Tales in New Skins

Kissing the Witch: Old Tales in New Skins
Author: Emma Donoghue
ISBN 13: 9780064407724
ISBN 10: 64407721
Edition: Reprint
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication Date: 1999-02-27
Format: Paperback
Pages: 240
List Price: $11.99

Thirteen tales are unspun from the deeply familiar, and woven anew into a collection of fairy tales that wind back through time. Acclaimed Irish author Emma Donoghue reveals heroines young and old in unexpected alliances—sometimes treacherous, sometimes erotic, but always courageous. Told with luminous voices that shimmer with sensuality and truth, these age-old characters shed their antiquated cloaks to travel a seductive new landscape, radiantly transformed.Cinderella forsakes the handsome prince and runs off with the fairy godmother; Beauty discovers the Beast behind the mask is not so very different from the face she sees in the mirror; Snow White is awakened from slumber by the bittersweet fruit of an unnamed desire. Acclaimed writer Emma Donoghue spins new tales out of old in a magical web of thirteen interconnected stories about power and transformation and choosing one's own path in the world. In these fairy tales, women young and old tell their own stories of love and hate, honor and revenge, passion and deception. Using the intricate patterns and oral rhythms of traditional fairy tales, Emma Donoghue wraps age-old characters in a dazzling new skin.

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School Library Journal

Gr 8 UpDonoghue has shaped this collection around several traditional and literary fairy tales. What sets it apart from all the other retold tales is that the heroines realize that they are more interested in the princess, witch, or local farm girl instead of the prince, merchant, or woodsman. Each story is loosely connected to the next by the narrator asking another character how they came to be in a particular situation and the answer, "It is the tale of an apple" (or a handkerchief, hair, a needle, etc.) This device cleverly unites the pieces into a seamless, if lifeless, whole. The female characters, while never really demanding any emotional involvement of readers, are at least complex enough to be neither entirely good nor entirely evil. However, the male characters are all weak, stupid, boorish, or a combination of the three. This one-dimensional treatment makes for very dull reading. Like Francesca Block's work, Donoghue's writing is built on vivid images. Unlike Block, she fails to use that skill to sustain a sense of place or bring a character to life. Though Snow White, the Little Mermaid, Cinderella, Beauty, and others roam through the pages, their voices are dismally similar, with the exception of Gretel, who hasn't mastered speaking in whole sentences, and becomes, by default, the only memorable character in the book. The author must be applauded for wishing to provide teen girls enduring the painful process of coming out with characters who are reassuringly similar. However, even when these protagonists are describing their own treachery, their own fears, or their own sorrows, their emotions never break through the fog of monotone narration.Patricia A. Dollisch, DeKalb County Public Library, Decatur, GA