Tangleweed and Brine...Re-enter the Fairytales

On the 7th of September, an extraordinary book was published by Little Island; Tangleweed and Brine by Deirdre Sullivan.
It is a completely enchanting book. Beautiful to hold with it's 'packaging' that reminds us of those wonderful volumes of old and lavishly illustrated by Karen Vaughan in a style reminiscent of Arthur Rackham or Harry Clarke, Tangleweed and Brine offers so much, and it does not disappoint. The tales retold; Cinderella becomes Slippershod, Rumplestiltskin is Meet the Nameless Thing and Call It Friend, Bluebeard - The Tender Weight etc; give the reader a deeper, powerful, more enticing reading that takes us deeper into the hearts and minds of the characters, revealing the intimate and deeply personal within the story. It twists and turns the stories back onto themselves and leads out again to destinies that are more felt than realised. It gives comfort and is unsettling at the same time. The language is poetic, dreamlike and flowing as each story offers us a journey that we know we must take. And this book is a most excellent companion as we travel. Filled with intrigue, horror, resilience, strength and gentleness, it is not for the very young or the faint-hearted. It is for the bold or for those that want to be.
In fact, to simply call this book a retelling does it a grave disservice. Tangleweed and Brine does what fairytales are supposed to do; to grow and change with time and place, to lead us into deeper thought of ourselves and those around us. At a time when we, the readers, are bombarded with the reclamation of histories and stories (not at all a bad thing and something that, well...it's about time) Tangleweed and Brine is an exquisite exploration of iconography and effects on life; of what makes us ourselves. It is dark, yet illuminating; bewitching, yet revealing. It is simply sumptuous.
I have placed this review here because Tangleweed and Brine denies categorisation. It is utterly contemporary and also classic.  It will bring you home, as well as entertain and delight in the best of story-telling traditions. This is a book to keep close at hand and read when you feel the need for sustenance and nourishment. Trust me...you will be nourished well.


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