My main takeaway from Lang's "Blue Fairy Book"? "Happily ever after" is far from the norm! These tales include grizzly murders, playing on insecurities, forced marriages, abductions, and maniacal little people. Take "Prince Hyacinth and the Dear Little Princess" as an example.
If you had a complex about your de Bergerac-like nose, how'd you like to have a prattling fairy and dinner host say: "My dear Prince, might I beg you to move a little more that way, for your nose casts such a shadow that I really cannot see what I have on my plate." Poor Prince Hyacinth! The story was one of the few that made me laugh out loud.
Then there's the mayhem in "The Yellow Dwarf" and "Little Red Riding Hood". People eaten alive, dying of broken hearts, stabbed by evil little people. Call me crazy, but the King's words might have upset the little yella fella: "Do you know that you are a dwarf - that you are so ugly that one cannot bear to look at you - and that I should have killed you myself long before this if you had been worthy of such a glorious death?" Hence the killing spree.
And "Blue Beard"? A case study for the necessity of anger management training. Anyone who kills four wives and then threatens a fifth with beheading could use a hug (or at least a healthy supply of Just for Men hair coloring product).
I could go on and on about the fairy tales included in this book. I did love them. So much darkness! "East of the Sun and West of the Moon", "Cinderella", "Little Red Riding Hood", "Cinderella", "Rumpelstiltskin", "Hansel and Grettel", "Beauty and the Beast", "Aladdin", "Goldilocks", "Snow White", "Jack the Giant-Killer" - all are here. And then there's my creepy new favorite "The Tale of a Youth Who Set Out to Learn What Fear Was". I challenge you to read it and try to forget the line "If I could only shudder!"
Though I enjoyed the stories very much, Lang gets four stars rather than five. He's guilty of taking some of the edge off the stories of Grimm, Perrault and d'Aulnoy. I prefer the source material.