Posted 20 hours ago

Hag: Forgotten Folktales Retold

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Larrington provides the reader with a lengthy, remarkably insightful and informative introduction which includes the exploration of the title, Hag. There is a consistent unsettling thread woven through all of the tales, as well as strong feminist tones, and this lent to the collection's cohesive feel. There is a vague whiff of her legacy to be found here - a few incidents of sensuality, a few moments that address female appetites – but overall Hag lacks the creativity, imagination and, quite frankly, the subtle yet pointed political engagement that make The Bloody Chamber so compelling.

The twist in her version is a compulsively self-referential narrator, whose voice examines another problem with retelling folktales, that their details change and are often lost over time. There's nothing wrong with this story, but it didn't particularly excite or amuse me, hence my rating. Overall I feel this is a solid collection and would be perfect for a cosy, mildly spooky, unsettling read.Some general thoughts: these stories are totally accessible even if you have no idea what they are based on (like I did), which I think is no mean feat. There’s something about telling the story in the immediate form – by speaking, especially with folklore tales travelling through the word of mouth for years before things have started to be written down. Undoubtedly, this is one of the most appealing and riveting short story collections I've read in recent years, and I can't recommend it highly enough for those who enjoy old myths and legends, and even the supernatural or fairytales, and one of the best aspects is that this book doesn't just retell the prominent stories we all know, hence the use of ’forgotten’ in the title.

I liked the elements of magical realism; this story really reminded me of Sue Rainsford's Follow Me To Ground. The stories were picked from different parts of the UK and Ireland and gave all managed to capture what the local areas have to offer.These stories in most instances were brought into much more modern day scenarios, and many took on elements of magical realism to tell their stories, whilst others remained grounded in more everyday scenarios. She keeps all the bare bones of the original story, in which the Tudor courtier Sir John Giffard kills the panther from his menagerie of curious animals before it can attack a woman and child.

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