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Review by Lissa Sloan: Not a Princess, (But) Yes, There Was a Pea & Other Tales to Foment Revolution by Rebecca Buchanan

Fairy tale readers expect reversals. Princesses are exiled, tailors become kings, poor children become rich. But Rebecca Buchanan takes reversal to a whole new level in her searing poetry collection Not a Princess, (But) Yes, There Was a Pea & Other Tales to Foment Revolution. You know the fairy tale about the girl who arrives at the palace in a storm and gets a heck of a lot of scrutiny from the queen before she proves herself to be a princess by having a really thin skin? What if that rain-soaked heroine, instead of going from a down-on-her-luck princess to scoring an advantageous marriage, had a far different reversal in mind? This is only one of many “what ifs?” in Buchanan’s inciting arsenal.


Not a Princess’s Content Warning page is more than an alert about potential triggers; it is a call to arms. It prepares the reader to expect the traumatic elements of both the fairy tales to follow and the real world we inhabit (ecological destruction, murder, abuse, and much more). But it also warns of the rewards of action and speaking up against injustice—things like hope, compassion, and courage. Like her titular poem, Buchanan’s other chosen tales will be familiar to most readers, making her pointed commentary all the more striking as she deftly pivots to examine stories from multiple angles. For instance, one Frog Prince poem features a princess who’s more than a little spoiled and entitled, while another’s heroine just isn’t okay with having a creepy stranger in her bed demanding kisses.


Taking aim at greedy rulers and abusive parents as well as sexism, economic inequality, and injustice, Buchanan confidently invites readers to join her revolution or consider their own. Her voice is sharp, authentic, and filled with hope, and her words never miss their mark. Not a Princess, (But) Yes, There Was a Pea is heartbreaking, bold, and breathtaking. You can find it here.


Lissa Sloan is the author of Glass and Feathers, a dark continuation of the traditional Cinderella tale. Her fairy tale poems and short stories appear in The Fairy Tale Magazine, Niteblade Magazine, Corvid Queen, and anthologies from World Weaver Press. Glass and Feathers appeared as a serial in The Fairy Tale Magazine last spring. Print and ebook release from The Enchanted Press was on March 26, 2024. Visit Lissa online at lissasloan.com, or connect on Facebook, Instagram, @lissa_sloan, or Twitter, @LissaSloan.


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