The Princess Bride

Everyone always talks about how the book is ‘so much better’ than its film adaptation, but in all honesty I never realised that the iconic film The Princess Bride was a book. Originally written by Morgenstern, this text was later abridged by William Goldsmith and I have to say that seeing the film first didn’t spoil my reading of the book at all.

The Princess Bride is a satire, and a brilliant one at that. I seem to have entered a fairy-tale/fantasy splurge of reading, following on from The Night Circus and A Court of Thorns and Roses, so you can tell that they are my favourite genres.

Beautiful, flaxen-haired Buttercup has fallen for Westley, the farm boy, and when he departs to make his fortune, she vows never to love another. So when she hears that his ship has been captured by the Dread Pirate Roberts – who never leaves survivors – her heart is broken. But her charms draw the attention of the relentless Prince Humperdinck who wants a wife and will go to any lengths to have Buttercup. So starts a fairytale like no other, of fencing, fighting, torture, poison, true love, hate, revenge, giants, hunters, bad men, good men, beautifulest ladies, snakes, spiders, beasts, chases, escapes, lies, truths, passion and miracles.

I find it ridiculous that someone could read this book and not laugh, grow teary eyed or even a little nostalgic. A relative who hadn’t heard of this book or it’s film counterpart didn’t understand, their eyebrows practically merged with their hairline at the blurb depicting a tale about a girl called Buttercup in love with her farm boy whom she loses to a pirate. I mean, come on! This tale is just such a – excuse my French – piss-take of every fairy tale you’ve ever seen. Not only that, but it just has everything: romance, adventure, action, giants, fencing, torture-chambers, giant rodents and more.

So why read the abridged version some of you may ask? Well, for a start, it’s a hell of a lot shorter than the original. Goldsmith writes throughout the narrative in his own voice, marked by italics, to either comment on Morganstern’s technique or explain why he’s missed out a large chunk of the original. I found his side-notes and introduction actually quite wonderful, as if you were reading alongside someone who was ready to tell you some more of the context or say something witty. They were light interludes between action-packed scenes, and also incredibly interesting. For example, one comment explains that he doesn’t include pages and pages of the original due to reasons like it is all to do with packing. Can you imagine? Pages and pages of just reading someone packing every item they own and then unpacking it all again? As Vizzini might say, inconceivable!

For those who are more culturally aware of this book, you might be wondering what the point is of reading this abridged book when you’ve already seen – and adored – the film. Yes, there are scenes that are so recognisable such as the Cliffs of Insanity or the Fire Swamp, with the famous lines like ‘As you Wish’ or ‘Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father, prepare to die’. I have to say, as a lover of the film, I didn’t think the book would top it – but it does. It has those fantastic lines and scenes, but it has even more! There are small context points that you never see in the film, for example you get the background tales from Fezzik and Inigo. If you didn’t think you could love these characters more, you’re completely wrong. I’d recommend this book in a heartbeat for lovers of the film and anyone up for a fantastic, hilarious fairy tale satire. The ridiculous lines, the exaggerated scenes and oversize rats just make this tale what it is: a beautiful piece of literature.

I just don’t understand how you can’t love it. Or that may be because you’re not the action, adventure, hilarious, awesome type. Please, just go read it!

So let me know what you think – whether you’ve read the book, the film or neither and if you plan to read it in the future! I’d love to hear your comments, and even recommendations for books to read (even though my to-be-read pile is growing every day).


A Court of Thorns and Roses

Fairytales. I love them. Why wouldn’t you love a place where if you somehow fit yourself into a rabbit hole, you end up in a new world or where it doesn’t matter if you die because some charming bloke might come along, give you a kiss and hey presto, you’re alive and now have a perfect boyfriend? Needless to say, I’ve always loved a good disney movie or magical tale where good (almost always) triumphs and everyone is happy happy happy.

There is, however, something I love even more – and that is modern adaptations and the retelling of fairytales. You recognise some of the elements, but only as a background thought because you truly have no idea how it’s going to end. Ok, so those films like Snow White and the Huntsman or Maleficent and the like are pretty standard in their adaptations, in the sense that you still know the characters and pretty much what’s going to happen. However, there are very few books that can do a fairytale retelling and make you forget that that’s what it is. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you A Court of Thorns and Roses.

Feyre’s survival rests upon her ability to hunt and kill – the forest where she lives is a cold, bleak place in the long winter months. So when she spots a deer in the forest being pursued by a wolf, she cannot resist fighting it for the flesh. But to do so, she must kill the predator and killing something so precious comes at a price …

Dragged to a magical kingdom for the murder of a faerie, Feyre discovers that her captor, his face obscured by a jewelled mask, is hiding far more than his piercing green eyes would suggest. Feyre’s presence at the court is closely guarded, and as she begins to learn why, her feelings for him turn from hostility to passion and the faerie lands become an even more dangerous place. Feyre must fight to break an ancient curse, or she will lose him forever.

Written by the brilliant Sarah J. Maas, known for her fantastic Throne of Glass series, this retelling of Beauty and the Beast is fantastically brilliant. My favourite books that include faeries, or ‘The Fae’, still remain as the Iron King series by Julie Kagawa, most likely due to the fact that they were among the first I read so I have some nostalgia for them. Sarah J. Maas, however, has definitely claimed her place among my favourite reads, let alone favourite Fae reads. She has a perfect blend of fantasy and magic with action, adventure with that sprinkle of romance to whisk you away to another world. Her writing style is just beautiful with exquisite detail that maintains this fast pace into this new world. She builds up each scene until you’re flipping through the pages at the speed of light, devouring every word.

Feyre is a great lead character but clearly has a lot of room for development for the next books in the trilogy. Her circumstances force her to be a Katniss-like figure, hunting in the dangerous woods and providing for her family where there are other fairytale elements – for example, her two sisters almost act like the typical ‘evil stepsisters’ but in a much more realistic way. Instead of just insults and jeers, there is a complex background and history to their family relationships which only brings the story to life.

As said in the blurb, Feyre (I think it’s pronounced Fay-rah, but I’ll get back to you on that one) is taken to magical, yet sinister, Fae realm/territory and her captor’s face is covered by a strange mask. From here, you delve into a strange mystery with new plot twists at every chapter. Maas adds elements to the story like logs to a fire, so where you started with a small flame you’re left with a raging bonfire as the tale builds and builds.

I read this book in one sitting, unsurprisingly, and would definitely recommend to anyone interested in fantasy and mystery. It transforms any notions of faeries being small and sparkly people with wings and fairy dust into these terrifying, ruthless monsters that use trickery to cause pain for their viewing pleasure. A brilliant read and an easy five stars from me.

The Night Circus

Every now and then you come across a book that reminds you why it is that you adore reading. A few of my friends had recommended The Night Circus so I’d bought it, yet it remained on my ‘To Be Read’ shelf for quite a while. I picked it up just before exams and so read the first few chapters before having to put it down again, leaving the rest as a post-exam reward. Honestly, I had no idea what I was expecting when I started this book – all I knew was that it was a circus that travelled around the world, open only at night. Personally, I think that was possibly the best way to approach this masterpiece of a book.

The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. The black sign, painted in white letters that hangs upon the gates, reads:

Opens at Nightfall

Closes at Dawn

As the sun disappears beyond the horizon, all over the tents small lights begin to flicker, as though the entirety of the circus is covered in particularly bright fireflies. When the tents are all aglow, sparkling against the night sky, the sign appears.

Le Cirque des Rêves

The Circus of Dreams.

Now the circus is open.

Now you may enter.

This blurb perfectly prepares you for the fantastical world you’re about to discover, filled with mystery and intrigue. If I had to sum this book up with one word, it would be ‘enchanting’. I’m wary of saying anything more about the actual plot of the novel, as really it’s about discovering for yourself and trying to figure out what on earth is going on as you read.

I think my favourite thing about this book is the world that Erin creates. When I do my own writing, I often struggle to add enough detail about a particular scene and gloss over minor details – clearly, this is not something Erin Morgenstern does. Every setting is filled with enough description to help you visualise such a wondrous place, yet not so much that it deters you from reading more. I think it’s a combination of the imaginative scenes, the wonderful characters and that constant element of mystery which allow this book to be such a masterpiece.

I would recommend this book to anyone, and especially if you’re interested in a little bit of magic or fantasy. I know that I’ve barely said anything about this book other than how great it is, but that’s because I don’t want to ruin it for other readers! With something like The Night Circus, you just need to go pick it up and read it to see for yourself, then shove it in everyone’s face and scream, ‘You must read this book!’.

So, Miss Morgenstern, I bestow upon you five glimmering, fantastical stars – and also a request that this is made into a movie. Please.