Fairytales For Wilde Girls
I must confess that I found the early chapters a bit of a struggle. I could appreciate the clever way Near was using fairy tale tropes, but the writing style seemed a little laboured; if I hadn't had to read it for book group, I might have abandoned it. It was only around page 150 that I really got caught up in the story -- at last, I thought, things are starting to happen! But then I was hooked -- I whizzed through the rest, and the payoff, when it came, was well worth the wait (though I may have been slightly dim for not foreseeing the big twist at the end…)
So my advice with this one is to perservere -- it is worth the initial effort. I think this is one of those books I would have enjoyed more when I was about fourteen, wallowing in the lush imagery and the doom-laden atmosphere. One element I really enjoyed was the presence of Isolda's 'brother-princes', her imaginary companions and comforters. I'm particularly interested in imaginary worlds and imaginary friends at the moment (have I mentioned that??) and I was very impressed with the way Allyse Near handled this aspect of the story.
I'm sorry to say that I'm not a person who is generally very attracted to fairy tale adaptations (gulp!) but this one did work for me in the end, and I'm glad I stuck it out.
EDIT: A wise person in my book group suggested that this novel provides a vivid and compelling account of gradually worsening mental illness; I think this is a valuable insight and made me appreciate the book in a different way.