“Letters to Zell” Is a Quick and Satisfying Read
I received a copy of Letters to Zell in exchange for an honest review, and though it took me a day (and about a third of the novel) to really get into it, in the end I finished it in about two days.
Grittier retellings of fairy tales have interested me since I first read Gregory Maguire’s novels – and that was quite a while ago. While Letters to Zell isn’t as gritty as Maguire’s writing, it’s certainly not the “Happily Ever After” that’s usually shoved down our throats.
The main reason it took me a while to really get sucked into this book is because the entire story is told via letters. To be honest I still think that’s the thing I like least about it, though thankfully once I got used to it there were only a few instances where the style threw me off (and those were more about the tense used than the letters themselves.) I also think that a good portion of the letters should have been longer; at times the jumping back and forth between characters got a bit confusing and I would have to look back to see whose letter I just read, and forward to see whose letter I was currently reading.
That said, there was plenty to love about this novel. My favorite character was probably Cinderella a.k.a. Ceci, simply because she was the most realistic and also had a clear goal. But as much as Snow White a.k.a. Bianca seemed a bit over the top at times, I also really liked that she was the swearing, whiskey-drinking princess…if only because she was the original saccharine-sweet “Disney princess”. And poor Aurora a.k.a. Rory…she was on the extreme side as well, though it was more in terms of naïveté and being a goody two-shoes.
(I will say that knowing at least a little bit about the Grimm versions of these fairy tales was a big help in reading this book; part of me wonders if I would have understood Bianca and Rory’s extremities more if I knew those versions better than the Disney versions I grew up with.)
I really liked the ending as well, but I won’t say more than “it wasn’t predictable” because I don’t want to spoil it! I would definitely read a sequel to this, and I enjoyed Ms. Griep’s writing enough that I would love to see more novels from her in general, too.
Author: Tara Lynne
Tara Lynne is an author, fandom and geek culture expert, and public speaker. She founded Ice & Fire Con, the first ever Game of Thrones convention in the US, and now runs its parent company Saga Event Planning.
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