Top positive review
4.0 out of 5 starsVery Dark
Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on July 12, 2022
I had a mix bag of emotions/feelings toward this. Since my childhood days I'd heard about Hans Christian Andersen, but not until now did I read anything from him, including his famous Emperor's New Clothes, which is included in this compilation.
Aside from The Little Mermaid, the last fairy tale in the book, The Emperor's New Clothes is the story that stood out the most for me. It was the one I enjoyed the most.
If there is any short story in which an author so adeptly illustrated how shallow and pretentious people could be for the sake of appearing in what they imagine will be a favorable light in their peers' eyes, I'd love to read it.
Any author would be hard pressed to match or beat The Emperor for poignance and humor. Yes, the story is that good. It is a barrel of laughs while shedding light on a side of human nature that's not funny at all.
What's also not funny is the general tone of these fairy tales. I always thought and had the impression that Anderson's work would have a light hearted feel to them. I delved into the book expecting this, but was surprised to find these stories have a dark undertone. Very dark in some cases.
The Red Shoes and The Little Mermaid are cases in point. In the former, both of a little girl's lower legs were cut off. I felt horrified reading this, and it was not the first story here that left me feeling that way. Again, I believe this was made all the more poignant because this kind of stuff was just about the last thing I was expecting I'd find.
I didn't care for most of the fairy tales. I didn't find them engaging, so I forced myself to get through the middle of the book. For me it felt like a grind. Then, when I was nearing the end, I found the last two tales, The Red Shoes, and The Little Mermaid, to be much more engaging, albeit, as I said before, they have really dark undertones.
The latter of the two more so, which left me feeling flabbergasted because that story, much more so than even The Emperor's New Clothes, grabbed my attention and had me totally immersed. Totally vested the mermaid's fate.
I won't go into any plot details because I don't want to provide any spoilers. I'll only say this much. If you're expecting a lot of happily ever after endings from these stories, you'd be in for a surprise. There are some of those here for sure, but you have another thing coming if you're expecting to find those feel good endings you may have preconceived notions about.