A Wild Swan and Other Tales |Micheal Cunningham

Definitely not one your run of the mill retelling.


Title: A Wild Swan
Author: Micheal Cunningham
Published: November 2015
Publisher: Fourth Estate


In A Wild Swan and Other Tales, the people and the talismans of lands far, far away, 23848124the mythic figures of our childhoods and the source of so much of our wonder are transformed by Michael Cunningham into stories of sublime revelation. Here are the moments that our fairy tales forgot or deliberately concealed: the years after a spell is broken, the rapturous instant of a miracle unexpectedly realized, or the fate of a prince only half cured of a curse. The Beast stands ahead of you in line at the convenience store, buying smokes and a Slim Jim, his devouring smile aimed at the cashier. A malformed little man with a knack for minor acts of wizardry goes to disastrous lengths to procure a child. A loutish and lazy Jack prefers living in his mother’s basement to getting a job, until the day he trades a cow for a handful of magic beans.

(Click on book cover for more information)



It’s a modern take on classic fairy tales, I mean in the literal sense. Micheal Cunningham writes them into a 21st-century setting. Have you thought about what happened to the 12th brother with a swan wing in the Wild Swan? Or why did Rumpelstiltskin want the baby in the first place?
This book takes a different stance on retellings. It takes the ugly, messy and complicated aspects of real life and attaches it to these fairytale characters and stories. At the same time, the stories still carried the same foundations of the original tale.

I found it enjoyable, refreshing and most definitely blew my expectations! As someone who loves re-tellings, this book definitely is not the run of the mill kind. It leans towards darker themes and expresses reality very eloquently. In some places, it’s very confronting and it made me think about the whys, what ifs and what happened afterward in terms of the characters, the story, and their motives.

Something important to note is the art! The illustrations by Yuko Shimizu is not only beautiful but atmospheric. It lends to the overall feel of the book and really ties it all together!



4-2Do you love fairy tale re-tellings? What is your favourite?


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