Re-Release Date: February 1, 2015
Publisher: Scarlet Primrose Press, 262 Pages
Formats: eBook; Paperback
Adelaide’s mother, Katrina, was the finest storyteller in all of Airsbach, a borough in the great city of Cologne, but she left one story untold, that of her daughter, that of Snow White. Snow White was a pet name Adelaide’s mother had given her. It was a name Adelaide hated, until now. Now, she would give anything to hear her mother say it once more.
A rampant fever claimed Adelaide’s mother just like a thousand others in Cologne where the people die without last rites and the dead are dumped in a vast pit outside the city walls. In an effort to save Katrina’s soul, Adelaide’s father obtains a secret funeral for his wife by bribing the parish priest, Father Soren.
Soren commits an unforgivable atrocity, pushing Adelaide toward vengeance. When Adelaide realizes that the corruption in Cologne reaches far beyond Soren, the cost of settling scores quickly escalates. Avenging the mother she lost may cost Adelaide everything she has left: her father, her friends, her first love, and maybe even her life.
Seamlessly weaving historical events and Grimm’s fairy tales into a tale of corruption and devotion, The Fairytale Keeper, leaves the reader wondering where fact ends and fiction begins. The novel paints Medieval Cologne accurately and vividly. The story develops a set of dynamic characters, casting the famous villains, heroes, and damsels of Grimm’s fairy tales into believable medieval lives. Though historically set, The Fairytale Keeper brims with timeless themes of love, loyalty, and the struggle for justice.
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Besides being the award-winning author of The Fairytale Keeper series, Andrea Cefalo is a self-proclaimed medievalist, hopeless bookworm, and social media junkie. She graduated with honors from Winthrop University in 2007 where she studied Medieval art history and children’s literature. The next three books in The Fairytale Keeper series—The Countess’ Captive, The Baseborn Lady, and The Traitor’s Target—will debut in 2015 and 2016. She resides in Greenville, South Carolina—ever perched before her trusty laptop—with her husband and their two border collies.
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I’m a big fan of people who find new ways to share old stories. With The Fairytale Keeper, Andrea Cefalo has given us a reality-based version of the classic tale of Snow White that is every bit as magical as the versions we all grew up with (and I’m not talking about Disney), even though there’s no actual magic in it.
Set in medieval Cologne, Cefalo’s story is of a young girl on the brink of womanhood, growing up at a time when reading and writing were not the norm, and the Church had the power over the life and death, not just of individuals, but of entire communities. She turns archetypical characters -Snow, her father, her (future) stepmother into three-dimensional begins, with lives and wants and personalities and in doing so, she shows us that life is complicated, and that even the best of us sometimes make poor choices.
I loved that Adelaide (Snow White is a hated nickname bestowed upon her by her storytelling mother) is a feisty, empowered (for the time) young woman. She’s a problem solver, but one whom the real world hasn’t quite touched, and it’s her mixture of innocence and knowledge that really make the character live. I also liked that she has a friend – a young man named Ivo – who she’s on the brink of romance with (he brings her jars of fireflies), but that it’s handled in an appropriate way.
Adelaide’s father, too, is complex: mourning his wife, doting on his daughter while also teaching her his trade, and trying to find a future. Similarly, Galadriel, the woman who (it’s foreshadowed) is likely to become Adelaide’s stepmother at some point in the future (she’s living with them) is an all-too-human figure: caring, but lost, and somewhat broken.
Together, this cast of characters form a family, and the other characters in the story broaden it to a whole community that seems every bit as real as any historical village from a textbook, but with more color and life.
Fairytales are woven through the novel, of course – often representing stories told to Adelaide by her mother, who, in a flashback, tells the child her story isn’t written.
And that’s really the point of this whole novel: we can learn from the stories of others, but ultimately, each of us has to also write our own story.
The book is an easy read. It sucks you in, and is paced well, with accessible language that never feels too contemporary – a trick that can be hard to pull off.
I’ve got the sequel as well, waiting to be read for review next month, and I’m eagerly awaiting another visit with Adelaide, and watching to see how her story evolves.
If you love fairytales and folklore, if you love strong women, and complex characters, if you love believable plots and rich descriptions of place and things, you will – as I do – LOVE The Fairytale Keeper.
Goes well with Strong black tea with either milk or honey (never both) and toasted rustic bread with cheese melted on top.
The Fairytale Keeper Blog Tour Schedule
Monday, February 16
Spotlight at Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers
Tuesday, February 17
Review at Book Drunkard
Thursday, February 19
Review at Cheryl’s Book Nook
Saturday, February 21
Spotlight at I Heart Reading
Monday, February 23
Review at Bookish
Wednesday, February 25
Review at 100 Pages a Day – Stephanie’s Book Reviews
Thursday, February 26
Review at Carpe Librum
Friday, February 27
Review at The Bookish Outsider
Monday, March 2
Review at A Bibliotaph’s Reviews
Tuesday, March 3
Spotlight at A Literary Vacation
Friday, March 6
Spotlight at What Is That Book About
Monday, March 9
Review at Shelf Full of Books
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