content by

Ana Grilo

Doing Buffy One Better: Sawkill Girls and the Subversion of Genre Tropes

Decades of dead girls. Poor girls and rich girls. Black and brown and white girls. All of them Sawkill girls.

Hello, let me tell you about Sawkill Girls by Claire Legrand, how much I loved it and how it tramples on a number of minor and major tropes like a boss. A horror YA novel, Sawkill Girls is about tradition, survival and death. It has four major viewpoint characters who are given equal footing in the story.

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Writing Girls and Rethinking Fairytales

I am a voracious, enthusiastic reader of all things young adult and one of the things that interests me the most as a reader, reviewer, and editor is the way that we write about girls, how those stories are framed, and how we engage with them. Warning: this column contains girls. And spoilers. But mostly, girls.

Looking at folklore and old tales and reinterpreting them is nothing new, of course; the Brothers Grimm did just that 200 years ago, and SFF and YA authors have been engaging with this kind of material for a long time.

That said, I do feel like there has been a renewed interest in YA to reimagine fairytales through feminist, subversive, and diverse lenses, with stories focused on girls and their empowerment. I recently read three of these—three novels published this year, three retellings that take beloved stories/tropes and turn them upside down. The Surface Breaks by Louise O’Neill is a retelling of “The Little Mermaid” with a side of Slavic folklore and their Rusalka via an Irish history of policing women’s bodies. Blanca & Roja by Anna-Marie McLemore is Swan Lake meets “Snow White and Rose Red” from a Latinx viewpoint. Finally, Damsel by Elana K. Arnold looks at the trope of the damsel in the dragon tower waiting to be rescued by a prince.

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Book Review: The Poison Throne by Celine Kiernan

THE POISON THRONE is the first book in The Moorehawke Trilogy from debut novelist Celine Kiernan. The first and second books have been out for over a year in Ireland, Australia (and other countries) and are being published by Orbit in the US and UK in April. Set in alternate 15th Century Europe, the trilogy follows protagonist-cum-narrator Wynter Moorehawke as she and her dying father return home after a 5 year absence up North, eager to join up with her two childhood friends, the two brothers Razi and Allberon, only to find a kingdom in the throes of religious and political turmoil. The once kind and enlightened King Jonathon has become a tyrant who opened the doors to the Inquisition, subverting the previous order. Now, the Cats who used to communicate with people have been killed and the Ghosts of the Castle have been declared non-existent. Even more distressing is the political instability as Alberon, the official heir to the throne is nowhere to be seen and his half-brother (and bastard son), Razi has been proclaimed the new heir. The story follows Wynter and her father as well as Razi and his best friend Christopher as they are caught up in the middle of transition.

For those of you unfamiliar with The Book Smugglers’ style of joint book reviews, we write (lengthy) conversational-style analyses of plot and characters. As this is our first post, we could think of no better way to introduce ourselves to the community than to ramble on about a book we have just finished reading.

[The Poison Throne discussion ensues beyond the cut…]

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