Saturday, 26 March 2011
The Sunday Salon: Short Story Quest
As part of the Once Upon a Time V challenge I'll be posting reviews of short stories at the weekend set in a fairytale, mythical, fantastical or folkloric world. Recommendations are always much appreciated, as are comments.
Ardour by Jonathon Keats
I read this interpretation of the Russian snow maiden Snegurochka whilst I was reading a bunch of Russian fairy tales this week, see this post I wrote yesterday, this had to be my favourite so I thought it deserved its own post.
Each winter the peasants tell the same story of the sightings of the beautiful girl in the woods, a girl covered in just a light dusting of snow who quickly disappears from sight. Each man craves to seduce her, for not only does she offer perfection and mystery she also is the release from the harsh winter into spring. Any man able to find and seduce her, and thus allow the fields to be harvested and the snows to melt, is rewarded by the king with a year off of work.
Yet one year Ardour goes from the desired to the hunted. For, suddenly one year she turns on the men and allows no one to seduce her. The winter draws on season after season, bringing with it hunger, death and disease, she has become a vengeful monster out to wreak havoc.
The king offers rewards of a life time escape from work, but no man is able to tame her until an unlikely Prince comes along.
This story’s telling was beautifully woven, and reminded me of the early African folk tales when stories were told to explain the things that man did not understand such as the passing of the seasons. This is certainly a story I’ll be coming back to read time and again, as with all good fairy tales.
The story can be found in the collection My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me’, ed. Kate Bernheimer.
In my search for the Snegurochka I found this cool website where they write and publish free retellings of fairytales. Go check it out.