Book Review: Chinese Cinderella, Fairy Godfathers & Beastly Beauty - by Melissa Yuan-Innes
Melissa Yuan-Innes’ newest book, Chinese Cinderella, Fairy Godfathers & Beastly Beauty: Feminist Fairy Tales from Ancient China to Contemporary North America, is a joyful read that will enchant fiction and fairy tale lovers. This collection is the second work in her series Spellbinding Speculative Fiction, and it will bring readers from ancient China to twenty-first century America with its blend of classic folklore and contemporary characters.
In addition to the titular retelling of the “Cinderella” tale, the book offers a cultural variant of “Little Red Riding Hood” and a sexy, humorous take on “The Three Little Pigs”. Some stories provide innovative representations of famous pairs from Greek mythology and British legends (like Apollo and Daphne or King Arthur and Merlin), while other tales create memorable characters like Trenton Lo, a seven-year-old boy who defeats an evil fairy godfather in “Fairy Tales are for White People”. The sequel, “The Bao Queen”, shifts the narrative focus to Trenton’s adorable little sister and includes a recipe for Char Siu Bao.
Yuan-Innes’ humor and medical knowledge shine through her narratives, but my favorite pieces, first published in The Fairy Tale Magazine, are poignant explorations of life and love. “Death and the Mother”, a retelling of “Snow White”, contemplates the depth of a mother’s love for her child, and the stunning poem, “A Half Century of Beauty”, turns the struggles of infertility into a celebration of life.
This beautiful collection, which brings the magic of folklore into an urban environment, is a must have for fairy tale lovers looking to lose themselves in laughter, hope, and enchantment.
You can find a copy of the book HERE.
Thanks to NetGalley for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Kelly Jarvis teaches classes in literature, writing, and fairy tale at Central Connecticut State University, The University of Connecticut, and Tunxis Community College. She lives, happily ever after, with her husband and three sons in a house filled with fairy tale books. She is also Enchanted Conversation’s special project’s writer.