What You Don’t Know About Fairy Tales (A Wild Swan: And Other Tales – A Book Review)

A Wild Swan: And Other Tales
Author: Michael Cunningham
Published: 2015

On Goodreads

Scarlet Reader - A Wild Swan

My Rating: Full boltFull boltFull boltFull boltHalf bolt



Most of us are safe.

If you’re not a delirious dream the gods are having, if your beauty doesn’t trouble the constellations, nobody’s going to cast a spell on you.

Fairy tales come with a twisted twist. Here come the classic stories we know with poison apples, a princess with incredibly long hair, a house made of gingerbread and gumdrops. But, these are thee moments nobody imagined. Lazy Jack prefers living in mom’s basement until he trades their precious cow for magic beans. It turns out it’s not always happily ever after with Snow White and her prince. A tiny, malformed man will go to great lengths to have a child of his own to take care of, even threaten the woman he helped make queen.


This book marks 23 out of 25 authors, from my New Year’s resolution, that I’ve never read from before. I get so swept away at the prospect of fairy tales and these ones piqued my curiosity.


I didn’t know what to expect with this book. It seems pretty bland and nothing special on the outside. I only just noticed that the font is braided hair on the cover which is *shiver* creepy. It was the and Other Tales that snagged my attention, and I certainly didn’t expect retelling of fairy tale. I’m so glad I read this book.

The illustrations of this book were amazing! I was blown away by them. Done in black and white, the art brought a unique visual to the stories. They’re intriguing and horrifying and beautiful.

From the hag witch of Hansel and Gretel to Snow White and her prince to a part prince part swan. This collection of tales took on many tales I don’t think many people would think to add sugar, spice and a crap-ton of chemical-X to. There were so many different POVs that haven’t been explored enough. Cunningham went up and beyond in exploring the lives of some of these characters that we never thought to go beyond the story with. It was fascinating and I was hooked. I never thought about how the hag witch of Hansel and Gretel came to live deep in the woods in a candy house. Not really. And the explanation of how idiotic Jack is for trading his cow for beans had me laughing so hard.

Love it

The tone of this book really captured my attention. It was sarcastic and bitter and humorous. I swear at times I could hear my one professor narrating in my head. There was NO FILTER. I figured that out pretty quickly too. I was laughing so much from the sarcasm, but as I tell many people, sarcasm is my first language. English came second. LOL.

More than this though, I was taken by how much I could compare to the world I live in as well as the parts that acted as a revelation. These tales weren’t just entertaining, but enlightening and dark and honest and relatable. There’s jealousy, heartbreak, the great human flaw of never being satisfied, fear, and pity. It was so unexpected and dark.

There are some tales I loved more than others such as:

Crazy Old Lady


Little Man



I’m really glad I read this. It was entertaining and even more, it was shocking. I didn’t expect this. This take on fairy tales was real and raw and dark. Definitely a keeper.



“Most of us can be counted on to manage our own undoings.” (Dis. Enchant., p. 3)

“It’s the solitude that slays you. Maybe because you’d expected ruin to arrive in a grander and more romantic form.” (Crazy Old Lady, p. 15)

“One of the reasons ordinary people are incapable of magic is simple dearth of conviction.” (Little Man, p. 66)

“Sometimes the fabric that separated us tears just enough for love to shine through. Sometimes the tear is surprisingly small.” (Steadfast: Tin, p. 88)


More to come soon…



P.S. Song Today? Don’t Let Me Go by Raign.


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