“The Queen, the Cambion, and Seven Others” by Richard Bowes— Modern Fairy Tales

the queen

Bowes, Richard. “The Queen, the Cambion, and Seven Others”, Aqueduct Press, 2013.

Modern Fairy Tales

Amos Lassen

All of us have our favorite stories from our youth—the stories that were called fairy tales. I am not sure that the stories we heard and loved are receiving the same reactions from kids today. The world is constantly changing and we are always looking for stories with relevance and that entertain. This is a collection of eight . Fairy tales but these are not for kids. Our fairy tale heroes and villains are here but the stories deal with world issues and social change. They combine fantasy and reality and we then look at fairy tales in completely different ways.

There is a charm to stories like this and I imagine what great fun Richard Bowes had in writing them. Stories have agendas and/or morals and this is what they have been used for during history. “Seven Smiles and Seven Frowns” deals with the relationship between the public and the rulers as well as giving us information about the evolution of the fairy tale. Dealing with the concept of apprenticeship, we are reminded that there was a time when always every profession was entered in via apprenticeship.

There is also a modern take on the gingerbread man with “The Cinnamon Cavalier”, the story of a fey policewoman in “The Lady of the Wands”, two stories based on the legends of King Arthur. We meet some outrageous characters in “The Bear Dresser’s Secret” and have a brand new take on the ageless story of the beastly bridegroom in “The Margay’s Children”. We get a look and sexuality and spirituality in “The Progress of Solstice and Chance” and finally the author gives us “A Secret History of Small Books”, a history of fairy tales as women, gay/lesbian writer and readers see them.

This is a pleasure of a read and the illustrations by Arthur Rackham are wonderful.

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