Friday, April 30, 2010

Review: The Storyteller's Daughter by Cameron Dokey

The Storyteller's Daughter
by Cameron Dokey
YA, Fairy Tale
218 pages
published: 2002
For: Once Upon a Time Challenge
3.5 of 5 stars


This is a retelling of Arabian Nights, focusing mostly on Shahrazad's story and the story of the king.


I haven't read the original fairy tale of Arabian Nights, and the only memory/association I have for it is a preview I saw as a kid for a TV movie. So I can't say how accurate or different this version is. But I enjoyed it.
I liked Shahrazad's story - about her mother and her storytelling gift. I like her father, the vizier, and her younger sister. I liked how different brotherly relationships were showcased in the novel. The really enjoyed the tall tales. I was surprised by this because sometimes I just want the side-stories to end so that I can return to the 'real' story, but this time I would sometimes forget about the 'real' story and wanted to get back to the book for the sake of the side-story. I must be a sucker for those lyrical tall tales. I liked exploring how the king became so cold-hearted and watching him struggle with himself. I liked that the storytelling gift came with a price, was something that had to be discovered instead of 'made up,' and that it was associated with cloth.

For all that, I must confess that this one isn't my favorite retelling by Dokey. I felt like the character's motivations were sometimes overdone. (Though this could be the fault of working with this particular fairy tale.)  What logical purpose does it serve to kill your wife the morning after? You won't get an heir that way. And I didn't fully understand Shahrazad's removal from the world - society, yes, but never going outside? That seems to make for insanity. The sequence of events got a tad confusing at the end and a few things were wrapped up too neatly. This seems an odd thing to say when referring to a fairy tale, but there it is. Perhaps some of my confusion has more to do with internal logic. There should have at least been textual reasons.

And I think I'm going to be sick if I endure any more references to "seeing with your heart" or "looking inside your own heart." But I don't know if that is the fault of this book or is indicative of me getting fairy taled out. Since I'm nearly done with the Once Upon a Time Challenge, being fairy taled out is perfectly fine.

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