Hello hello and welcome or welcome back to my little bookish corner of the internet. Today I’m sharing my review of the collection of retold fairy tales, The Sister Who Ate Her Brothers. This was one of my Christmas presents, and one of the last reads I squeezed in last year.
Do you dare read this collection of terrifyingly gruesome tales? In this gripping volume, author Jen Campbell offers young readers an edgy, contemporary, and inclusive take on classic fairy tales, taking them back to their gory beginnings while updating them for a modern audience with queer and disabled characters and positive representation of disfigurement.
Featuring fourteen short stories from China, India, Ireland, and across the globe, The Sister Who Ate Her Brothers is an international collection of the creepiest folk tales. Illustrated with Adam de Souza’s brooding art, this book’s style is a totally original blend of nineteenth-century Gothic engravings meets moody film noir graphic novels. Headlined by the Korean tale of a carnivorous child, The Sister Who Ate Her Brothers is a truly thrilling gift for brave young readers.
I found out about this book purely by chance after following author Jen Campbell because of her work as a disablity representation activist. As a disabled woman, and especially as some who ended up using a wheelchair so young, I’m always keen to see representation that moves beyond the traditional themes we see in fairy tales, in books that are for adults or children, so I had to read this. My husband gifted it to me from my book wish list, and I loved reading it so much, I was up until 1.30am on Boxing Day morning to read it in one sitting.
Some of these are stories that you will have heard in different ways before, and some are tales you might never have heard of. What’s wonderful, however, is that each story is full of creepiness and spooky vibes, and are just like the title says: gruesome! It’s great fun, and when I heard something go bang outside when I was reading, I jumped high enough in the air to consider myself throughly spooked out, which I love.
The illustrations by Adam de Souza set the stories off perfectly, capturing the mood of each tale while also demonstrating beautiful talent in the same page. In 2021 I also read Beasts and Beauty, which is another collection of retold tales, and again is beautifully illustrated. I’ve decided the world needs far more illustrated books for adults, because they bring so much joy, especially when it comes to things that are that bit different and twisted; you can take care of your inner child and embrace the wonder of adulthood all at the same time!
Campbell manages to find the root story and put her unique twist on each of them, keeping them individual while also loyal to their beginnings. I find the evolution of myths, legends and stories absolutely fascinating, and if you’re like me, you’ll love this book, whatever your age.
Thanks for stopping by today to talk about this truly awesome book. Especially ideal for children – or adults – who are at all slightly different, it’s one I’ll be thinking of for a long time.