There are many different interpretations of fairy tales, from Disney to The Brothers Grimm, but never have I found retellings quite like those found in Nikita Gill’s latest poetry anthology, Fierce Fairy tales. Gill completely subverts traditional ideas of character traits, making her audiences question the impact of the supposed heroes and villains of the stories. For instance, she turns iconic relationships between supposedly opposing characters on their head. We are reintroduced to Peter Pan and Captain Hook as best friends, and, Red Riding Hood as the leader and protector of the of the wolf pack.
The poems tell newly captivating stories, each with feminist undertones. They start by initially focusing on mainly traditional fairy tales, and towards the end of the book, there are also poems set in the modern day. These final few poems address the reader, and feature messages of self-care, healing, and most importantly, how to save yourself. Some of the poems are accompanied by Gill’s own illustrations. This adds an extra dimension to the stories she tells and gives the book a wonderful aesthetic appeal.
Overall, Fierce Fairy tales is an explosive and empowering collection of poems that are both heart-breaking and heart-warming, at the same time. It is beautifully written and illustrated by Gill, and is a truly enjoyable read for all, regardless of age and gender. Beware: you may just stay up all night reading it in one sitting.