Kids grow up hearing bedtime stories of faery tales--faery tales in which princesses are rescued by princes and the ending is always "happily ever after." In this new book by Melissa Marr, Faery Tales & Nightmares, your average faery tales aren't as simple as "Once upon a time."
Faery Tales & Nightmares is a collection of short stories; some happy faery tales, others dreadful nightmares. The faery tales include a short story about an ice princess whose breath could frost whole mountains and a regular girl falling in love under the enchantment of a half-human creature. The nightmares include: an excerpt about a girl being chased my monsters she cannot out run, a chapter about a teen girl "transitioning" into a vampire, and a short story about a girl bearing extreme pain in order to look beautiful. This book, Faery Tales & Nightmares, also includes a tale of a world outside the mortal world, run by Summer Queens and Dark Kings, home to faeries, monsters, and "fey." This setting and the characters in this story are used throughout the book in different chapters about different people all living in this non-mortal world.
My favorite short story in Faery Tales & Nightmares is Love Struck, a sweet story about a girl falling in love with a selchie, a half-human, half-seal creature. In this tale, a teen girl, Alana, finds a selchie pelt and takes it, putting herself and the selchie, Murrin, under an enchantment. Murrin loves Alana, but Alana is furious with him for putting her under his spell. I liked this story so much because it had a happy ending, but wasn't cheesy like some love stories can be. Also, I read this story right after reading the creepy vampire tale, so was happy to read a faery tale-ending love story.
Faery Tales & Nightmares definitely had its scary elements, so I would caution younger readers. This book is more guided to middle and high school students who aren't scared easily. For me, an easily frightened reader, I liked some stories in this book, but others were a little too sinister for me. I enjoyed the faery tale stories more than the nightmares, probably because I usually don't enjoy the dark, vampire kinds of books. But, this would be a good book for dark, fantasy lovers. For readers like me, who like books with happy endings, this book would be a good way to try new genres, because Faery Tales & Nightmares mixed happy endings with bone-chilling terrors.
Besides the scary themes to this book, I didn't like how it was a collection of short stories. Some stories satisfied me, but others didn't make sense because of how short they were. The first story of the book is only 3 pages long, and in those pages, you don't find any characters' names, where the story takes place, or any details like that. While some stories were confusingly short, others were chopped up in different chapters throughout the book. For example, the story about the Dark Kings and the non-mortal world was told out of order, with altogether different stories in between chapters of this story. This confused me, it was like reading the second book in a series. It feels like the characters are forgetting to explain certain people or events.
From reading the 418 pages of Faery Tales & Nightmares, I know that scary fantasy books are not my favorite. This book was published by Harper Collins Publishers in 2011. It was written by New York Times bestselling author of the Wicked Lovely series, Melissa Marr. For more information about Faery Tales & Nightmares, go to www.melissa-marr.com. Faery Tales and Nightmares hits the shelves February, 2012.