You’re likely familiar with the fairy tale of Rumpelstiltkin; a mischievous creature who helps a young girl impress the king, but at a great cost. The only way out of this bargain is if the young girl can guess this strange creature’s unusual name. In this, part two of the Fairy Tales Gone Bad trilogy, Coelho tells a twisted version of this familiar story.
Bryony is an acclaimed taxidermist, her stitching skills and her magical ability to transport herself to moments in the lives of the animals she works on are unparalleled. But when her father boasts of her skills (‘bring back animals from the ever after’), the king demands an impossible task of her; to bring animals in his possession back to life! When all hope is lost, Bryony is approached by a strange creature who offers to help her, at an increasingly high cost. With the power of words, Bryony manages to twist this story – and his name – to defeat the greedy creature.
This book will definitely appeal to lovers of retellings and fans of darker stories. It is lovely to see a chapter book written in verse, which flows naturally and intertwines with the illustrations seamlessly. Coelho has a fantastic grasp of language and imagery that makes the form of verse incredibly accessible. The ending is somewhat rushed and uncharacteristically resolved but overall, it is a creative, unique, and entertaining retelling of a classic fairy tale.