Thursday, January 1, 2015

book review—Heartless by Anne Elizabeth Stengl

large as life fairy tale

Fracturing fairy tales has become common in modern-day story telling. It seems like TV shows and movie where spins and twists are put on fairy tale and folklore stories are pretty frequently put out. Of course, one gets a steady diet of that from Disney, but they are far from the only practitioners.

“Heartless” is, in many ways, another modern take on fairy tales, but one that is different from some of the others I've come on, and one that I like rather a lot.

A lot of the expected elements are in it. There are princes and princesses, strange places where strange things can happen, dragons and warriors, heroes and villains. There is love and loss, heroism and cowardice, selfishness and sacrifice.

But maybe the big difference between this fairy tale and the classic kind, a difference that I think may make “Heartless” more suited to a more grown-up reader than the kiddie version of fairy tales popular nowadays, is that most of the people in it are not larger than life. With a couple of exceptions, they are not paragons of virtue, nor are they dripping in evil and villainy.

Una is not the stereotypical fairy tale princess, Felix is not prince charming, and Leo is not a knight in shining armor. They are, in a sense, only as large as life. They act like how we act, they do the things we do, they act selfishly and rashly, they make shallow decisions, and they hurt those around them in profound ways. They aren't the stereotypical sympathetic characters, they are in fact rather frustrating. Just like we are.

One of the biggest parallels I saw between this story and Christianity is this—Una is loved by the fairy prince even when she treats him badly and as an enemy. This was a reminder to me of how “God showed us His love for us in this, that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us”.

Overall, this is a work of creative and imagination, as well as well thought out and fairly sound in it's allegorical representations of Christianity. I can recommend it very strongly.

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