By Joseph Hillenbrand
Amazon Digital Services, Inc., $0.99, 110 pages
The Seed and Other Fairy Tales by Joseph Hillenbrand is a collection of nine tales, some as short as flash fiction, others short story length, that give a modern twist to fairy tale-esque stories. For instance, the human who followed a girl into a pond and emerged among frog people, or the ogre who had daughters only to raise them up and eat them. These are strange, thought-provoking tales, which stray away from the simple morals of fairy tales. Daughters consume mothers, women consume fish smoothies, men consume their emotions, a couple squanders their three wishes and accidentally cause their noses to grow together. These are not children’s stories, but anecdotes to make the reader think more deeply about the world around us and our interactions with it.
The book itself is formatted so each separate story has its own font and a lovely illustration to accompany it. It’s a short collection, but tightly constructed.
The most difficult thing about this book might be in thinking about its purpose. Is it to entertain? To warn? To teach? Perhaps all three, perhaps merely to tell these odd, occasionally off-putting stories and entertain the circumspect reader. Whatever the cause, this collection might be the kind that the reader sees in it what they bring to it. Some may see inspiring tales; others might be turned off by the violence and unusualness of the stories. Others yet might be entertained by the ironic voice and turns of phrase the author uses, which evoke classic fairy tale language with the occasional “ef you” thrown in for jarring, but completely believable, modernity.
Whatever you bring to this collection, it will likely affect you somehow.
Reviewed by Axie Barclay