Having loved this book I was really chuffed to be asked by the good people at Andersen Press if I would like to be involved in Adam's blog tour, and I feel honoured to be kicking the tour off on Day One. The blog continues tomorrow at the So Many Books, So Little Time blog, but in the meantime, it is my great pleasure to hand you over to Adam Gidwitz:
The Grimm Truth About Fairy Tales
Once upon a time, fairy tales were horrible.
Not boring horrible. Not so-cute-you-want-to-jump-out-the-window horrible.
Terrifying, bloody, disgusting horrible.
Now, if you’ve been raised on the drivel that passes for fairy tales these days, you probably don’t believe me.
First off, you’re constantly hearing the same fairy tale again and again and again. “Today, children, we’re going to read a Cinderella story from China! Today, children, we’re going to read a Cinderella story from Madagascar! Today, children, we’re going to read a Cinderella story from deep space!” And you, meanwhile, are wondering how many students have been convicted of murdering their teachers.
Second of all, those stories they keep telling you over and over are all about fairy godmothers, and talking frogs, and cute little girls in red caps. And they are generally about as interesting as a cookbook. In Swahili.
But you see, the real Grimm stories are not like that.
Take Hansel and Gretel, for example. Two greedy little children try to eat a witch’s house, so she decides to cook and eat them instead—which is fair, it seems to me. But before she can follow through on her perfectly reasonable plan, they lock her in an oven and bake her to death.
Which is pretty cool, you have to admit.
Or Cinderella. You think you know what one, right? But did you know that when the first step-sister tries to put on the slipper, and her big toe is too big, so she cuts it off with a knife? Or that the second step sister tries on the shoe, but her heel is too big, so she takes the same knife and cuts off a nice juicy chunk of her heel? And then, at the end, both step-sisters have their eyes pecked out by birds? Sweet, huh?
And that’s not to mention the stories that are so terrible adults deny their very existence. Have you ever heard of a story called Faithful Johannes? Of course not. Because in that story, two lovely little children get their heads cut off. By their parents. The heads get put back on, of course. So it’s no big deal.
What about the fabulous fairy tale Fowler’s Fowl? Heard of that one? Of course not. That’s because Fowler’s Fowl is about a lovely young woman who marries a very important doctor who lives in a very big house. He gives her keys to every room of the house, and tells her she can go anywhere—anywhere, that is, except the basement. He tells her that if she ever goes in the basement, he will kill her. So of course she goes into the basement, and what does she find? The bodies of all the women he’s married before her, hanging, dead, from the ceiling. And then, of course, he comes home. I won’t tell you what happens then. You can probably guess.
“Okay,” you are now asking, “if fairy tales are so horrible, why are all the versions of the stories I’ve heard so unbelievably, mind-numbingly boring?” Well, you know how it is with stories. Someone tells a story. Then somebody repeats it—and it changes. Someone else repeats it—and it changes again. Then someone’s telling it to their kid and taking out all the…well, the horrible, awesome parts…and the next thing you know the story’s about a sweet girl and a glass slipper and singing mice—and you’re so bored you’ve passed out on the floor.
Even the Brothers Grimm changed the fairy tales some. So I’ve written a book that goes back and sets them right. You see, there is a story behind the stories of Grimm’s Fairy Tales. A story that winds all throughout that those horrible, bloody tales, like a trail of breadcrumbs winding through a forest. It appears in stories you may never have heard, like Faithful Johannes and Fowler’s Fowl. And in some that you have—Hansel and Gretel, for instance. It is the story that you will find in the book A Tale Dark and Grimm.
Now, this story isn’t for everybody. It is scary, and gory, and grim. But it is a tale worth knowing. For, in life, it is in the darkest zones that one finds the brightest beauty and the most luminous wisdom.
And, of course, the most blood.