Monday 10 February 2020

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Review: Fierce Fairytales by Nikita Gill

Fierce Fairytales by Nikita Gill

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Fierce Fairytales by Nikita Gill

Published: Trapeze | Publisher: 11th September 2018 | Cover Designer: TomásAlmeifa | Source: Bought
Nikita Gill on Twitter and Instagram

Poet, writer, and Instagram sensation Nikita Gill returns with a collection of fairytales poetically retold for a new generation of women.

Traditional fairytales are rife with cliches and gender stereotypes: beautiful, silent princesses; ugly, jealous, and bitter villainesses; girls who need rescuing; and men who take all the glory.

But in this rousing new prose and poetry collection, Nikita Gill gives Once Upon a Time a much-needed modern makeover. Through her gorgeous reimagining of fairytale classics and spellbinding original tales, she dismantles the old-fashioned tropes that have been ingrained in our minds. In this book, gone are the docile women and male saviors. Instead, lines blur between heroes and villains. You will meet fearless princesses, a new kind of wolf lurking in the concrete jungle, and an independent Gretel who can bring down monsters on her own.

Complete with beautifully hand-drawn illustrations by Gill herself, Fierce Fairytales is an empowering collection of poems and stories for a new generation.
From Goodreads.

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Being a lover of fairy tale retellings, I've wanted to read Fierce Fairytales by Nikita Gill for so long now, so I decided to treat myself at the beginning of the year - and it's bloody incredible!

I didn't know it was poetry until buying, or I had forgotten. I'm not a poetry connoisseur, but I do enjoy some contemporary poetry, and I was intrigued by how Gill would retell the various stories we know so well. With gorgeous illustrations by Gill throughout, Fierce Fairytales features 91 poems examining fairy tales and their characters, children's classics, and other ideas or topics through a fairy tale lens, and it's so, so powerful.

Gender and sexism are massive themes throughout. Through the stories we know, Gill tackles gender stereotypes, sexism and the rights of women, the idea of how society believes women should behave. Through female villains Gill covers how we're shown examples of who women shouldn't be, but also how women can be seen as villains simply for not following the rules, deviating from the norm, not conforming. There is exploration of toxic masculinity through the princes, but also of abusers hidden behind a charming smile. But she also looks at monsters and dragons and fairy tale witches, and how society just decides who and what is allowed to exist, who or what is good and evil based on how they look, or in some cases, the things they're interested in.

Gill also deftly tackles subjects like mental illness, trauma, body image, self-worth, and, as briefly mentioned, abuse of all kinds. There's discussion of parents and parenting; how parents raise children, how they treat them, how they try to teach them and how good intentions can go awry, and the effect of absent parents. There are poems that discuss race and racism, that are as gorgeous as they are, in some cases, devastating.

There are heartbreaking villain origin poems; poems about how the universe came into being that are so beautiful; poems of understanding, of empowerment, of encouragement. There are poems where Gill shows you a different perspective of a story, or encourages you to think about characters differently. There are poems where Gill is talking about a specific character, but feel like she's talking about, or to, you.

This collection of poems moved me beyond words. Gill brought tears to my eyes with how beautiful some of the poems are, she had me raging with a large number of them, and Gill had me feeling like she stood with me, beside me, an encouraging friend reminding me of my strength. This book is thought provoking and empowering, and so very important, and I implore you to read it. I'll definitely be buying Gill's most recent book of poetry, Great Goddesses!

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Over to you graphic

What do you think about fairy tale retellings/exploring fairy tales through poetry? Are you a fan of contemporary poetry? Have you read anything by Nikita Gill before? Have you read, or will you be picking up, Fierce Fairytales? Let me know in the comments!

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