The Fairytale Trilogy: A Review


The Fairytale Trilogy is a collection of three books by Valerie Gribben titled Fairytale, The Emperor's Realm, and The Three Crowns. The stories follow the adventures of Marianne, a young woman who discovers on the morning of her arranged marriage that she is not the person she believed herself to be. Left with nothing but a faithful dragon and a brother she barely knows, Marianne sets out on a journey to uncover the secrets of her past and a purpose for her future.

Although Valerie Gribben retains enough longstanding fairytale elements to give the stories a warm, familiar feel, she weaves in creative twists, intriguing new interpretations, and flashes of humor that keep the plotlines from becoming too predictable. Reflecting that, the writing freely mixes more fanciful and flowery words with the occasional modern and prosaic one, and I'll confess that I did find that a little distracting. While the books do take darker turns at times, especially as Marianne draws closer to the truth of her past, Kevin can attest to the fact that I often caught myself laughing out loud at lighter points.

The books are short but eventful. Kevin and I have discussed the fact that sometimes it seems like two authors could take the exact same story, and one could turn it into a hundred page novel while the other draws it out into a six hundred page tome. It seems only natural that some readers would prefer the directness of the former version and others the experience of the latter, but either style can be done well. In my opinion, The Fairytale Trilogy is more in the tradition of Prydain than Hogwarts, its protagonist more Turtle Wexler than the unnamed narrator of Rebecca.

Marianne herself is a strong heroine, opinionated and resilient. Her brother Robin, a lighthearted dreamer, is the perfect complementary character, or perhaps antidote, to Marianne's forceful personality. My favorite element of the trilogy is the colorful cast of characters. Charming or terrifying, pompous or generous, trivial or scheming, the vast array of ensemble members is impressive not only in numbers but in the intricacies of detail. It is fun to watch seemingly minor characters experience their own story arcs throughout the books, to cheer or boo for those who deserve it, and to occasionally be surprised when just as in real life people take different paths than one might have expected. The intensity of joy or of disappointment that such surprises inspire is a testimony to just how involving these characters are.

I received an ARC of The Fairytale Trilogy, and while I freely admit that much delighted squealing was heard throughout the house as I opened the package, this review is an expression of honest opinion. Since the copy that I read was still being proofread, it was not completely polished, but as a whole I very much enjoyed all three books. I'm not sure how one would get hands on the published book, but I'll be keeping an eye on the facebook page and Valerie Gribben's website.

(Incidentally, as I was reading The Fairytale Trilogy, my husband was reading a pair of fantasy novels he very much recommended I check out. It was only after I finished the trilogy that I noticed that the books he had read were written by Sherwood Smith, who had written one of the featured praises for The Fairytale Trilogy. More on that later.)
13 sprinkles of fairy dust:

It's always interesting to read y'all's book reviews. Totally different genres than what I read but interesting nonetheless.

questions: How do you find time to read? Do you read when Jack's sleeping?

What genre of books do you like to read?

I don't know how Bethany does it, but I generally read on the floor, or in the middle of all their toys in their room or outside while they crawl all over me, use me as a prop piece and feed me mud pies. :-P

Not sci-fi :)

Mostly nonfiction. I recently finished Diet Girl (I like her podcast so I thought I'd read her book. It was good). Homemade Life (recipes + life stories). I'm reading Chocolate and Zucchini right now as well as some books on journaling (I've journaled for about 10 years so I thought it'd be interesting to read how you're "supposed" to do it) and organization (I doubt it will help me but it's worth a shot haha).

That's a good idea. I need to just do that. When I read I usually feel guilty (which is probably because when I was growing up and I was reading something from the library I was usually supposed to be doing school). :)

I hear you there. I got in trouble too for reading when I was a kid. My mom always told me I'd never find time as a mom...but I promised I'd prove her wrong. :-P

Did you read only non fiction as a kid to? Or did you switch? I should probably read more non fiction than I do. :-P

I usually read while Jack plays around me, too. He will often get himself a picture book and sit by me and "read" it in his own language, with sound effects and gestures.

Or I'll read during a movie. O: Or while I'm stir frying. Or in bed after everyone's asleep.

I like to read novels because they go by so quickly I don't have time to feel guilty.

"Novels" were of the devil, or so we were told. :) I do read some fiction. I just usually am more interested in non-fiction. I just started Jan Karon's Mitford series. That doesn't strike me as an Esther/Bethany type of book series :)

Yes, Bethany, Ellie does sort of the same thing. I've been teaching her the letters of her name so when she "reads" it sounds like, "E..E..I..I..I.." haha

haha...the Mitford books are one of my favorite series. I've read them all multiple times. *blush*

I think I've given the wrong impression of my reading tastes. I don't actually like sci fi, and while I like fantasy, it certainly is a new genre for me. Maybe we need to branch out a bit more in our reviews. :-P

that's awesome! I've found them very comforting :) Nick read them all when he was young (he should probably be the one blushing) and he told me I would probably enjoy them. The night he proposed to me he made an apple pie from Jan Karon's cookbook based off the books. As delicious as the pie was I figured the books must be at least decent.

I found that our library has Fairytale by Valerie Gribben so I will have to pick it up next time I'm there.

I guess fairytale and sci-fi are not the same genre, are they? haha

Esther, do you find that you read more or less now than you did before you got your nook? I'm getting one (the color) for Christmas and I'm curious to find out if it helps me to get more reading accomplished. I'm also eager to see if I like it as much as I love books. There's something that thrills me about bringing a stack of books home from the library... I'm not sure how I'll feel about downloading a "stack" of ebooks onto my nook. It surely


It surely cannot be as satisfying. Or can it?

They have it at your library? That's crazy.

I would say I definitely read more books now that I have a nook. Between free ebooks, library ebooks, and the occasional downloaded one, I keep a pretty hefty stack going. They don't really replace real books for me though. I still have the paper stack.

Whether or not you find real books more satisfying has a lot to do with how tactile of a person you are. Hence the difference between me and Bethany.

Just the first in the trilogy. They don't have the collection yet.

Hello, this is Valerie Gribben, the author of The Fairytale Trilogy. I wanted your readers to be the very first to know that my book can now be pre-ordered at my publisher's website:

The book is set for a January 2011 publication date.