This book was one of my random impulse purchases. I was holidaying in Goa when I went to this adorable little bookstore in a Goan cottage. With nobody around to dissuade me from shopping, I came out with two books (after deliberating on a third one for over ten minutes). This was the same trip for which I went armed with four books and inadvertently returned with nine.
The only reason this book caught my eye was thanks to its description of princesses, warlocks, dragons and a smattering of other fairytale creatures. I’ve had the vaguest idea for a fairytale of my own and figured this would be a good book to get my brain into the appropriate mood.
The book has three stories: Suzy’s Gift, Sally and the Warlocks and The Hidden Continent. The first is about Princess Suzy who finds herself able to make a person’s nose grow if he utters a falsehood in her presence. This gift comes handy when her father’s minister decides to get rid of the king and queen and take over the kingdom. In the second story, six-year-old Sally is kidnapped by evil warlocks who intend to sacrifice her after she accidentally witnesses a secret ritual. She finds friends in Granger, the only good warlock around, and William and Mary, two talking mice – the three of whom are Sally’s only hope of getting out of her predicament alive. In the last story, the Lord of Magic decides to move the entire magical population to a lonely continent inhabited by only a smattering of humans. However, they land right in the middle of kingdom takeover attempts and plots and double-crosses.
Fantasy is a favourite genre of mine and I love new fairy tales or old ones with a twist. The plots in the three stories are definitely imaginative, but I suspect that I would have enjoyed them more had a parent read them out loud to a younger me right before bedtime. The stories have a lot going on but while reading them, I felt the writer could have done more to make them really stand out. Out of the three, I liked The Hidden Continent the most because it had funnier characters and was full of instances where things decidedly did not go according to plan. However, the book rankled my inner feminist with its depictions of all those damsels in distress. The princesses just stood around, waiting to be rescued, and doing absolutely nothing. Oh, how I wanted to shake them! (I think modern renditions of take-charge princesses has completely spoiled me).
Like I mentioned earlier, I think the stories are perfect for being read out loud or even for kids to enact in a school or local production. With a range of voices – scary and scared – and a last-minute costume thrown together, the stories would be a lot of fun. And I’d prefer them that way.
Sally and the Warlocks and Other Stories
Price: INR 195
Publisher: Puffin Books