This book began with three of my published short stories: “The Thirteenth Fey,” “The Uncorking of Uncle Finn,” and “Dusty Loves.” Though in the end only the first story was used as a basis for the book.
I’d shown several of my published stories to my new editor Jill Santopolo at Philomel when she took over from my long-time editor Pat Gauch who’d retired. I’d been thinking of a book of stories but Jill picked out several of the stories and “Thirteenth Fey” was one of them. She thought it would make a good novel, and I agreed.
But turning a short story into a novel, while it may seem like a short cut, never is. A short story is its own form, has its own pace, and has a wonderful compression that any good novel lacks. So while I had a sort-of armature for the novel, in the end I had to invent and reinvent more than I used from the original. It might have been easier if I had started from scratch!
I fell in love with the family of Shouting Fey and hope my readers will, too.
And as for the climactic scenes in the cave, I have a number of friends on FaceBook and family to thank for helping me figure out what to do with bat guano. I won’t spoil it by telling you what I mean. You will find out for yourself if you read the book.
- On Horn Book’s recommended list of fairy tale books, 2013
- Chosen as a Bank Street Best Book of 2013 for kids ages 9-12.
Around the web:
- Check out this review in the L.A. Times.
What reviewers have said:
- “A great tale of family, magic, and promises.”–Kidsbookshelf.com
- “Pre-teens are in for a treat from renowned storyteller Jane Yolen in this newest modernization of the traditional tale of Sleeping Beauty, and parents can rest assured that both traditional and modern family values will be promoted by the story.”—Examiner.com
- “In this imaginative retelling, the jealous, overlooked fairy who curses Sleeping Beauty is recast as a sickly, bookish teenager.. . . .Yolen has crafted an intricate world full of well-developed characters. The incantations that the fey often invoke (“Blow and sow/This fertile ground/Until the knot/Be all unwound”) add a lyrical quality to the elegant prose.. . .fans of more unconventional fantasy adaptations, such as Gregory Maguire’s Wicked (HarperCollins, 1995), will enjoy seeing an antagonist receive a rich, compelling backstory.”– School Library Journal
- “Yolen, adept at fairy-tale retellings, brings a master’s confidence to this re-envisioning of “Sleeping Beauty.” Complementing her invention of the Shouting Fey, she explores the power of words in all incarnations: oaths, curses, wishes, spells. Her own rich language conveys a beguiling portrait of childhood in a large, sprawling family, then sets it against forces in the adult world that sift through to a child’s awareness…a tour-de-force combination of fantasy, whimsy, and good old-fashioned family story.”–Horn Book
- “The pages are peppered with subtle references to everything from Lord of the Rings to Emily Dickinson, and Gorse grows in both cleverness and thoughtfulness as the story unwinds.A graceful and absorbing look at a familiar villain.”–Kirkus
- “Yolen follows her Snow White retelling, Snow in Summer with a similarly inventive spin on Sleeping Beauty (like that book, this novel also derives from one of the author’s short stories). Half elf, half fey, Gorse is the youngest of 13, and as such, she is the last to learn of the oath that ties her family to the kingdom and requires them to do Royal Biddings, under penalty of bursting into a thousand stars. When Gorse is 13 years old, a Bidding comes down to bestow blessings on the newborn princess, Talia. Rushing to get to the castle, Gorse falls into a magical trap, and so begins an adventure that eventually results in her delivering an accidental gift to the princess. Yolen’s trademark humor is apparent throughout (“He clearly never met a comma or period he liked,” Gorse remarks after her family receives the king’s Bidding), and while the story takes some time getting started, as Gorse shares stories of family history and magical mishaps, that by no means detracts from its many pleasures.”–Publishers Weekly
- “Yolen follows up Snow in Summer (2011), an Appalachian retelling of Snow White, with this fey reimagining of Sleeping Beauty. It is based on a short story written by Yolen about Gorse, the thirteenth child of an elf and a Shouting Fey. The Shouters are a family of fairies bound to an unscrupulous king who can force them to grant him any wish—failure to do so will result in death via bursting into a thousand stars. . . Readers interested in the Sleeping Beauty angle will have to be patient while Gorse’s story unfolds. She spends much of the book trying to escape from an enchanted underground prison, learning to harness her own magic, discovering the wits at her disposal, and befriending a fellow fey trapped by an oath of his own. The book has a marvelous cadence that creates a world both ancient yet familiar and lends itself well to reading aloud. Fans of fairy tale adaptations will enjoy this well-imagined retelling.”–Booklist
- “This extraordinary book by one of our family’s favorite authors tells the story of the fairy Gorse who is the thirteenth and youngest of the Shouting Fey, a family of fairies who are tied to the evil king’s land. . . . and I promise that it will grab hold of you and not let go until the very last page. . .an excellent book to curl up on the couch with a cup of tea on a cold winter night but be ready to stay up late because you won’t want to put this one down!–Simply Stacie blog