The Convergence of Fairy Tales by Octavia Cade

The Sleeping Beauty woke with a heartbeat between her legs.

Five classic fairy tales are reimagined by award-winning master of horror Octavia Cade in The Convergence of Fairy Tales. Sleeping Beauty. The Snow Queen. Snow White. The Frog Princess. Rapunzel.

Five new fairy tales. Five different accounts of betrayal, of power, and rage.
So I got this book around Halloween time last year, and somehow it got lost in the depths of my email. I unearthed it a few weeks ago, just in time for this reading spree, and OH MY GOD YOU GUYS I’m SO GLAD. Turns out, this one’s actually pretty good!

The Convergence of Fairytales is an engrossing, blisteringly angry retelling of five stories – Sleeping Beauty, The Snow Queen, Snow White, The Frog Princess, and Rapunzel – as different phases in the same woman’s life. Opening in the midst of Sleeping Beauty’s viscerally horrifying ‘happy ending’, Convergence follows the princess in her dark, often grotesque path towards recovery and revenge.

It’s not a story for the squeamish – there’s a lot of goopy, crunchy gross stuff towards the beginning, especially in the Sleeping Beauty/Snow Queen segments. That sort of thing is generally not my bag, and I think if the page count had been longer, or the gross stuff had been in the forefront for more of it, I might have tapped out. BUT, Convergence was compelling enough to keep me reading, and ultimately came to such a strong whole that I think it was worth muscling through some of the grosser bits. The ugliness is the point, and in a story like this, I can see the value.

That being said, Convergence also comes with some content warnings for rape and child abuse. The rape isn’t shown, but its aftermath and the child abuse are pretty gory, and central to the narrative, as, as the author puts it in her afterword, Convergence is essentially a rape-revenge tale.

The writing is lovely, with the perfect kind of dream-like – or perhaps more appropriately, nightmarish – quality that makes the haziness on some of the details read as more of a feature than a bug. It just serves to make the story all the more unsettling.

Honestly like…this is the first time I’ve seen a retelling take a fairytale as it was given, without sanitizing it or softening it, and engage with how fucking raw the deal was for the women in these stories, and then let the heroine live in her utterly deserved rage. I loved it. I love how ugly and fierce and unapologetic Convergence is. It’s fascinating and cathartic and I highly recommend it.

I’m looking forward to seeing what else Octavia Cade has done.

four stars

Review copy kindly provided by the publishers, The Book Smugglers! Sorry for the delay xD


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