Kirkus Review of Monstrous Alterations

Another review of Monstrous Alterations has come in, this time from Kirkus Reviews, which had this to say about the book:

Barzak’s lyrical short story collection reimagines fairy tales and other classic stories.

The adaptations draw on children’s classics such as Brothers Grimm fairy tales, J.M. Barrie’s stories of Peter Pan, and L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900) to literary staples such as Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper” (1892)and Robert Louis Stevenson’s Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1886). Familiarity with the original tales certainly enhances the reading of these well-written retellings, but the latter can stand on their own. Barzak’s favored approach is to retell a story from the perspective of an overlooked, tertiary character, frequently imagining them as queer but trapped in heteronormativity, just as they’re trapped in narratives that sideline and shortchange them. There are effective themes of classism as well, with the shifted perspective giving voice to those on the stories’ periphery. As a result, the stories in this compilation put forth new heroes for modern readers. The prose is elegant and old-fashioned but accessible, with occasional allusions to the original texts’ language, as in “Eat Me, Drink Me, Love Me,” an adaptation of Christina Rossetti’s “Goblin Market” (1862), one of the many highlights in this collection, in which the prose seems to sing in harmony with the original work: “Sometimes, as I came to see if the peach kernel was growing, I would be deluded by visions of ripe berry bushes, the way a thirsty traveler in the desert will see water where no water flows.” “Invisible Men,” inspired by H.G. Wells’ novel The Invisible Man (1897) is less successful, as Barzak’s attempt to relate his protagonist’s rural Sussex dialect is inconsistent.

A haunting but quietly hopeful set of tales that’s perfect for a cozy fall read.

Perfect for a cozy fall read. I hope you enjoy the book, though, in whatever season you might read it!

And if you’re so inclined, when you do read it, please offer a review of the book wherever you may do such things (Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, etc.)

Kirkus Review in full here.




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