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BOOK REVIEW: More Unfairy Tales (Carthick’s Unfairy Tales Book 2) by T.F. Carthick

More Unfairy Tales
Author: T. F. Carthick
Buy: Available on Amazon

REVIEW OF MORE UNFAIRY TALES BY T. F. CARTHICK

At a recent online workshop on Fairy Tales that I attended, different meanings behind the tale of Red Riding Hood were put forth. What one imagined was a story about a little girl going to meet her grandmother was actually touted to be a warning for young, innocent girls to beware of louts (wolves in human form). This was interesting and on further research I discovered a plethora of interesting retellings including erotica and gay literature, among others.

A unique retelling of fairy tales

But T. F. Carthick’s More Unfairy Tales is a completely different take on the fairy tales, as we know them. This is in fact his second book in the series, after a very successful first book on reimagining popular fairy tales. The main feature of both these books is that the story is retold from the perspective of characters we might have overlooked in the original tale.

Carthick avoids the easy path of a uni-dimensional retelling. He throws in chunks of references to popular culture, misguides your expectations by naming stories with titles that remind you of popular books, and peppers his narrative with quote-worthy sentences.

Sample these:

“Lady Luck is a strange mistress. She can smile, smile and yet be a villainess who can turn her face away when you need her most.”

“Time is flowing like a drunk snail out for a leisurely after-dinner walk.”

Elves & Witches & Wolves

This retelling of old tales does not mean that the author compromises on the OUATs (Once Upon A Time) and the HEAs (Happily Ever After) – the staple of all fairy tales. But he brings them back to us in unexpected ways that are both refreshingly new and exciting. E.g: Would you expect to come across the bible of economists—Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith—in a book of this sort? But it appears and does not feel out of place at all. Or, do you know the real reason why the huntsman saved Red Riding Hood from the wolf? Or, do you know the names of all the seven dwarves in the story of Snow White (and why they were named thus, and also why Snow White was called so)?

There are many such tantalising moments in the stories. They are all the more delightful because of the newness in the midst of their old familiarity.

A journey to childhood 

The tone of the stories feels a little sardonic and the narrative makes us break out into a laugh sometimes with its tongue-in-cheek, satirical, corporate-speak-like observations which are also a pungent comment on human nature.

You’ll also find a lot of visits from other fairy tale characters like Goldilocks and Cinderella(Plug alert: I love the mention of Goldilocks especially since one of my own retellings of Goldilocks is part of a humour anthology).

This book is a quick read and pretty unputdownable. One of my most fave stories is Lost Love’s Labors, the story of true, unconditional love (or, don’t judge a book by its cover, if you will).

Read the book at one go and relish the journey to your childhood of innocence, flavoured with the sophistication of your present. It is a delectable treat, I tell you.

 

Blurb of Unfairy Tales

A knight rescues a damsel in distress. They marry, the whole kingdom rejoices, and everyone lives happily ever after. The end.

Or at least that’s what Official sources say. But what tales do insiders tell? What secrets lie buried deep inside Davey Jones’ Locker?

What, dear reader, about The Unfairy tales?

The stories the Knight-in-Shining-Armour and the Damsel-in-Distress have never wanted you to know. Tales which Fairyland had kept locked up in secret and thrown away the key. Until our rogue bard went back in time and ferreted out skeletons hidden within secret cupboards of desolate mansions.

Our fearless crusader of truth and justice brings to you the second volume of revelations from fairyland.

You will find five more unfairy tales hidden within the pages of this tiny tome, the sequel to Carthick’s Unfairy Tales. Stories of elves out to decipher the ways of men and dwarves seeking to reclaim their own histories. Of spurned witches and lost wolves. These stories are going to change everything you have ever believed about fairyland and give you a peek underneath the gossamer threads of glamour and magic peddled by the Fae.

Grab your copy @

Amazon.in | Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk 

About the author

T F Carthick is a Bangalore-based writer and blogger who has been blogging since 2008. He is an avid reader of Children’s Fiction, Science-fiction and Fantasy. Enid Blyton, J K Rowling, Isaac Asimov, Frank Herbert, Neil Gaiman and Douglas Adams are some of his favorite authors. His paranormal thriller ‘Bellary’ was one of the three stories in the book Sirens Spell Danger, published in 2013. Six of his stories have featured in multi-author anthologies and literary magazines. He has written over 50 short stories, many of which can be read for free on www.karthikl.com.

He is an Engineer and MBA from India’s premier institutes IIT, Madras and IIM, Ahmedabad and currently works as an Analytics and Artificial Intelligence Consultant at one of the world’s leading Consulting Firms.

 

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“The Equals” needs your love and support, dear Reader

NEED  YOUR  LOVE AND SUPPORT,  DEAR  READER  (more details ahead)

Every writer keeps a journal because there is always some writing that is meant only for the writer’s eyes.

But there is also that writing which the writer sends out into the world with the unexpressed hope that it will be read by others and even help to make a difference in at least one reader’s life if not of many. There is of course no knowing whether it has achieved its aim unless the reader herself mentions it to the writer.

Sometimes the writing is read by a host of people who decide that the quality of the writing and the content merit more attention and perhaps even an award.

And so it is that one of my short stories has been shortlisted in the Indireads’ Second Short Story  Competition. It is among the Top Five stories selected in the Paranormal genre.

On Twitter, nvrao @dls2015 commented: “Liked the depiction of a futuristic world with the surprise at the end.” And Indireads tweeted: “A fascinating sci-fi tale from futuristic world – read ‘Equals’ by @soniaraowrites”.

 HERE is where I need your love and support. Please read the story and then if you like it, click on the little red heart at the end of the story. This will help to register your vote and the more votes I have greater the chance of me winning a top prize.

Today is  the last day, so do hurry up.

The Story, then:

Priyam Kumar, Inspector-in-charge of Dholpur CFJ (Centre for Justice) smiled into the cup-shaped receiver of the communication device when she heard Sheena of MoonCell Remand Centre say hello at the other end. A scowl settled on her face, though, when she remembered the reason for her call.

“Sheena, I’ve a juvenile here. 16 years old.”

“A juvie? I thought criminal activity in that category had ended three years ago. At least that’s what I read in the Mandala report just last week.”

“Perhaps the Khap-Anth Doctrine hasn’t sunk into the heads of all the young emms yet. And speaking of Khap-Anth… Read the rest here.

THE BETRAYAL

It was a game between them. The sun would win if he was able to make Ambika drop her veil – her dupatta – from her head. And he would have won too (who can overcome the intensity of those fire-tipped rays that passionately caress the earth?) only if Ambika did not have centuries of tradition . . .

(Here is my entry to ‘LitLive My Story’ Contest.  Please traipse over to:

https://apps.facebook.com/promotionshq/contests/294213/voteable_entries/59756992 to read the complete story. You can, if you want,  Like / Vote for this entry 🙂

And if you drop a comment that will be the icing on the cake. 🙂

Thanks in advance for reading. And you might need to be logged into Facebook to show your ‘like’ for this story).

THE STRANGE REUNION – A short story

I was glad for the sunlight after days of dull insipid weather. There was another reason to rejoice. Today was the 10year reunion of the 1990 batch of NMS University and my friends and I were looking forward to it as a thirsty man looks for water in the desert.

We had been deprived of juvenile fun for too long, ever since we had taken up jobs immediately after leaving college. In fact, this reunion had taken on the mantle of a succour in desperate times.

We did give a cursory thought to our professors but, not having been prize-winners in any sphere of college life, they had never been an important part of our universe.

All of us, Sheena, Riya, Tania, Suchita and I, had put ourselves through gruelling hours at the gym at the mercy of remorseless personal trainers to get a body to die for. Okay, not really to die for. But at least a body one would not die of shame of, even after two kids and an exhausting lifestyle.

Booted and suited, looking like the successful executives we were, we reached the venue. It was empty. Did we get the date wrong? That would have been possible if Tania had been in charge of the details, she was absent-minded even after so many years.

All the logistics had been tracked by Sheena, the brainy one, the nit-picking, missing-the- wood -for -the -trees Virgo. We all turned, eyes accusing, towards Sheena. Even the perfectionist could meet her match.

The date was right and so was the time.  So, where was everybody? We looked around for a clue to this strange turn of events. The farmhouse where the party was scheduled had a deserted look. No lights in the large French windows and no sign of any life.

But wait, a thin, droopy figure moved furtively among the trees that lined the walkway. It moved towards us and suddenly a matted-haired, long-nailed old hag dressed in a long patchwork skirt and a peasant blouse stood before us.

“Glad you could make it.”

The leery cackle sent a shiver down our spine. Beads of nervous perspiration lined our foreheads as we debated whether to make a run for it with our heels or without them. Just then she grabbed Suchita by the arm. Startled, Suchita, the meekest of us, screamed loudly, as she tried in vain to loosen the old hag’s grip.

“We shall have lots of fun. The cauldron’s bubbling and I am hungry”.

Visions of being boiled alive in large cauldrons flashed through our minds. But this was the 21st century and witches no longer existed, atleast not the ones that ate people. But did this witch know it? Shaking in our boots but taking strength in our numbers we pleaded with her to let us go. We would get some tasty MacDonald’s burgers for her instead, we promised her.

As I tried to prise away her fingers from the screaming Suchita’s hand, I applied more pressure than I intended. Propelled by this sudden motion the hag rocked backwards and almost lost her balance. I put out my hand to steady her and was left holding a bunch of hair.

“Was she so old that she has just disintegrated leaving behind only her hair?” this thought crossed my mind as I stared open-mouthed.

This was no witch. This was Mrs. Sita Banerjee, the most popular professor of our time. She was the only Economics teacher who could boast of full attendance in her class.

Why was she dressed so? Had hard times fallen on her? Had she taken up witch craft? Too many questions, that needed answers.

Mrs. Banerjee laughed merrily, (the leery cackle thankfully no longer to be heard) as she told us of the plan by the professors to fool us. The others were partying in a tent behind the farmhouse and we were greeted with shouts of glee as we reached there.

And the cauldron? Yes, it was there but fortunately it was full of just punch.

Our hands were still shaking as we complimented Mrs. Banerjee on her realistic acting even as she prepared herself to welcome the next lot of guests.

 

ICE WATER IN HER VEINS – A very short story

“Aaarg …”

The prince, clutching his throat, uttered animal-like sounds of pain.

With a sudden movement of his head, the prince looked at her. In the light of the full-moon, his bloodshot eyes could not take away Cathy’s attention from the red welt on his neck just below his right ear. His teeth, in the dim light of the evening lamps, glimmered like fangs.

“Your Highness, what’s the matter?” she asked, even though her sinking heart already knew the answer.

Red-hot blood ran in her gypsy veins. She had a reputation for curing diseases which doctors had not even heard of.

The minister, who, earlier in the day, had waited patiently till she delivered a difficult baby, told her she was the last hope for the prince who suffered a strange skin allergy, an ailment that neither doctors nor witch doctors could cure.

Making the sign of the cross she tried to talk to the prince but she knew it was a futile exercise because the signs were evident. And that she, too, was doomed.

She woke up next morning with a searing pain on the right side of her neck.  Blood like ice water flowed in her veins.  And she, too, would have to outsource her blood supply. 

THE TURKEY AND THE ANT

(A modern-day story, this time. As usual comments are most welcome :))

Once upon a time, in a barn, lived Mrs. Turkey, now known as Mama Turkey with a brood of the cutest turkey babies you ever saw.

And like all new mothers (this was an Indian Turkey), Mama Turkey did not get any rest, what with all the looking-after of the babies, the feeding and the cleaning, especially the cleaning.

Soon, as all kids do, these babies were able to stand up on their own feet.

“Ah! Finally! Freedom… from the babies, for a few hours.”

Mama Turkey was ecstatic as she envisioned a few hours of solitary pampering at the Bird Beauty Salon.

There was a small hitch.

Who would take care of her babies in her absence? Father Turkey was nowhere to be seen, ever since the birth of the kids.

“That Mr.Turkey, the wastrel, the no-good fellow.”

Mama Turkey cursed her absent husband, sighing, as her mother’s  strangely prophetic words rang in her ears, “Keep away from Mr.Turkey, he is bad news, a good-for-nothing. He will never keep you happy.”

The day that had dawned was bright and sunny. Criminal to waste this beautiful day.

Without further ado, Mama Turkey dressed up the kids, donned her sneakers and guided them out of the house in a single file, anticipation of an adventurous day writ large on all the faces.

So much walking couldn’t help but work up a massive appetite. Mama Turkey pointed out the anthill to the kids and as they explored their way into a new form of food, she drooled in salivary lust as she almost tasted those bitter-nutty black ants thronging within the hill.

“Children, eat your fill and some more. This is a delicacy, as rare as they come. God knows when you will next get a chance to eat here.”

Mama Turkey joined the kids in their gourmet adventure.

The meal eaten with gusto and relish left the anthill an empty shell, the industry within it now residing in the tiny quivering bellies of the Turkey babies.

“What a most enjoyable meal. What pleasure! Our life would have been the best life of all if only Man did not enjoy eating us so much. But come Christmas and Thanksgiving, their celebration is not complete if they don’t have us on their plates. They stuff us and carve us and then eat us with oysters and spicy gravy.”

Mama Turkey’s lament continued, “We are cursed. Man, be it a poor man or a lord, none will ever say no to a meal of Turkey. O Woe! Woe betide me. Man is such a glutton. No thought is spared for us poor turkeys.”

Mother Turkey didn’t stop her raving and ranting, eating and raving, eating and ranting.

An ant, who had escaped the unexpected massacre of her family, managed to climb up a tree, beyond the reach of the turkey.

She could only shake her head in disbelief when she heard Mama Turkey’s words.

“Did you enjoy your breakfast, Mama Turkey?” The sad little orphan ant couldn’t resist the barb.

For the first time ever, Mama Turkey was struck speechless.

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