“Twelve” by Andrea Blythe

Thanks to Interstellar Flight Press and NetGalley for the advance review copy in exchange for an honest review.

I am not really sure that I would describe these little vignettes as poems, but they certainly have a poetic quality to them.

This collection tells the individual stories of each of the Twelve Dancing Princesses best known from Grimm’s fairy tales. I have always liked that story and I tend to love a good fairy-tale reimagining and this book was no exception. The main sense I got from this collection was one of feminine anger. Anger against the sister’s father and anger against the restrictions placed on them by the patriarchal society in which they live.

This book goes to some surprisingly dark places and the feeling of simmering rage and resentment is ever present throughout. This feeling resonates with modern dialogue relating to feminism and the “Me Too” movement and despite its traditional grounding it felt quite modern. I am not familiar with the author’s other work, but the first thing I did upon finishing this collection was to look up what else they have done as I found her voice so intriguing and compelling.

The short afterword that follows the collection of stories explains the author’s motivations in more detail and the connection is made between the problematic aspects of fairy tales whilst also highlighting their unique sense of female centeredness.

I was selfishly left wanting more but the brevity of each story was what made them all the more tantalising and exciting. A top class work.

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