Fierce Fairytales by Nikita Gill || Book Review

Traditional fairytales are rife with clichés and gender stereotypes: beautiful, silent princesses; ugly, jealous, and bitter villainesses; girls who need rescuing; and men who take all the glory.

But in this rousing new prose and poetry collection, Nikita Gill gives Once Upon a Time a much-needed modern makeover. Through her gorgeous reimagining of fairytale classics and spellbinding original tales, she dismantles the old-fashioned tropes that have been ingrained in our minds. In this book, gone are the docile women and male saviors. Instead, lines blur between heroes and villains. You will meet fearless princesses, a new kind of wolf lurking in the concrete jungle, and an independent Gretel who can bring down monsters on her own.

Complete with beautifully hand-drawn illustrations by Gill herself, Fierce Fairytales is an empowering collection of poems and stories for a new generation.


Divider. A gold line with green and gold leaves in the middle.
Ace Your Age, Eve Brown cover. Blue cover with man and woman hugging, with musical notes in the background.

Title: Fierce Fairytales: Poems and Stories to Stir Your Soul

Author: Nikita Gill

Published on September 11, 2018 by Hachette Books

Format: Paperback, 176 pages

Genre / Themes: Fairy Tales | Fantasy | Short Stories

Rating: 3.75 cups of tea

Divider. A gold line with green and gold leaves in the middle.

“We all have storms and stories
inside our starmade bodies
that even the night sky cannot hold.

This is why we are on this earth;
to learn how to love and each other,
to learn how to love and hold ourselves.”

Nikita Gill’s Fierce Fairytales collection was a wonderful reading experience, a fun journey reading exceptional poetry and retold short stories to make the mind think and ponder more. I loved her use of classic children’s stories later on to create this new way of thinking, demonstrating that this concept of GOOD and EVIL isn’t as clear as the world makes it to be; heroes fall into darkness, villains grow compassionate, and every person has a unique story to them that helps forge who they are today.

The use of retelling these stories using modern day topics was a unique way of providing comfort and sanctuary for readers. Creating tales of heroes with alcoholic parents, princesses dealing with depression and anxiety, characters who were once “good” slowly falling into darkness as they are betrayed and neglected constantly … it just made the stories feel more personable and I found it really hit home.

A lot of the topics became overdone at some points to me though; I don’t mind having several entries on similar topics, but it grew too redundant at some points. I also wished for more diversity in sexual orientation. There was a lot of focus on heterosexual relationships with very few instances of non-heterosexual relations, which some may not resonate with.

The emphasis on women empowerment was lovely to see; I enjoyed her stance on women being more than just used for their bodies and to bring children into the world. As someone who has felt that pressure to be a mother, it felt like I was being told “it’s okay, you’re enough” throughout the collection. However, some of the poems and stories appeared to project anti-men stances. I don’t know if Gill meant for this, but it got to the point that I started to feel uncomfortable with the amount of male hatred. The hatred isn’t in every story about men (ex. the story about Jack and the Beanstalk), but it’s definitely littered throughout the collection.

I usually speed through poetry collections, but I actually advise against that for this. I feel like you can get overwhelmed and not fully digest the content this way. It was much more enjoyable as I started to take my time. Overall, a great experience that has made me wanting to read more of Gill’s works.

Signature that says "love jenna" in gold. A group of green pastel leaves are in the upper right hand corner.

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Author of Bookmark Your Thoughts, both the Tumblr and WordPress book review blogs. I'm a tea drinking, book loving librarian who just loves literature.

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