Title: Beauty and Cruelty
Author Name & Publisher: Meredith Katz (Less Than Three Press)
Publication Date & Length: December 23, 2015 (174 pages)
Cruelty, once an evil fairy and now working in fast food, comes home one day to find the lazy, drooling King of Cats on her doorstep. Worse, he comes bearing news Cruelty would be happier not hearing: Sleeping Beauty has gotten tired of lying around and is trying to save the world Cruelty left long ago.
Any respectable Archetype knows it’s a waste of time; their chances of survival are much better if they can hide in the human world. But since nobody sent her an invitation to the world-saving, she’s practically obligated to interfere.
This was a rather interesting intermingling of several old fairy tales that kept me chuckling through to the very end. While I feel like there could have been more in the way of content and conflict (as in there was plenty of missed opportunity to cause mischief) it was pretty good overall. I can’t see it being one I’d read again simply because the underlying suspense wouldn’t be present in a second reading but I would definitely recommend it for someone looking for a fun, decent read. With visits from characters throughout the fairytale world it has a little something for everyone!
I’m not sure if this concept has been done before or not, but I found it refreshing and innovative, and it immediately grabbed my attention and dragged me into the book. The idea of these fairy tale Archetypes dying from disbelief, and deciding to do something about it just hit me the right way at the right time. Our main character, Cruelty, or Rue as she’s known in the human world, is a villain, only she’s not doing many villainous things these days. Whether that’s because she’s trying to survive or because the human world has changed her is a matter for debate, but I think it’s a little of both. And she isn’t the only one who’s changing. The heroine of her story, Sleeping Beauty, is changing as well, and it is changing their world.
The basic conflict is that since humans don’t believe in fairy tales anymore, the Archetypes of fairy tales are finding their world disappearing. The solution? Get humans to believe again. The way that they go about this goal changes them, their world, and the relationship between them. The best part of this is that Cruelty is a reluctant participant, in every way. The changes are making her seem less a villain and more of a kinder, gentler fairy. And she doesn’t like it one bit. But Change is rolling over her, and she has the choice of going with it, or getting flattened by it.
The story ends with hope, but it isn’t exactly a happy ever after, for Beauty and Cruelty, or their world. Which is exactly what Cruelty’s personality can accommodate, and a clever decision by Katz. I definitely recommend this book.
Meredith Katz started writing around the same time she started to walk, a 6 page ‘book’ called “The Baby Dragon” (spoilers, there was an egg, it hatched, and then there was a baby dragon). She hasn’t stopped since, and after many years of writing slash and femslash fanfiction, she is only too excited to share her original fiction. She lives in beautiful BC, Canada with her gorgeous fiancee and adorably nerdy cat.