Review: Rumpel’s Prize by Marie Hall


5 gorgeously wrecked Stars

“The way to read a fairy tale is to throw yourself in.” – W.H. Auden

Why am I starting this review with a quote not from the book?  Because after reading this book I was so thoroughly wrecked that I had to give myself a point from which to start.  I threw myself into this book expecting it to be good (mostly because it’s Marie Hall and she’s brilliant) but not to have any real lasting impact on me.  It’s just a reimagined fairy tale after all.  But I forgot one thing:  the very best fairy tales take you over, inhabit your soul and can either give you permission to breathe or take away your breath altogether.  The very best fairy tales stay with you for life because they speak directly to your heart and soul, bypassing your discriminating mind altogether and aiming directly at making you theirs forever.  And this book did exactly that for me.

Rumpelstiltskin is perhaps most well known for his devious ways in tricking people into making bargains for magic that end up with them losing what is most precious to them.  He is often portrayed as a short little imp of a man, sharp as a shard of glass and greedy as the devoted collector he is.  Marie Hall, of course, takes the most interesting of his traditional attributes and them amps them, twists and turns them, subjects them to the translation of a prism and ends up with of the most magnificent men ever to grace the pages of a book.  Of course he’s gorgeous, almost painfully so.  He’s all of the perfect you would expect – smart, witty, observant and has the tools to either create or make anything he wants.  He’s also lost and broken and alone.  All of those things together?  Absolute heartbreaking perfection.  This character reached into the deepest recesses of the hopeless romantic I keep chained inside and set her free with a lazy flick of his hand.  This character thoroughly undid me.

Who could possibly counter this man?  Who could possibly stand a chance against his charms, will and allure?  Shayera Caron, that’s who.  If he is one of the most perfect men to ever be created, she is his perfect female match.  You would expect her to perfectly balance him out.  Be the ice to his fire.  The column that stands true in his raging wind.  She is, but mostly, she’s not.  She has her own fire; she can summon her own gale.  And she does, on a regular basis.  She is pure, independent, raging strength and their pairing is all the better for it.  The author has created the most inherently strong, compassionate and intriguing heroine in Shayera that I’ve read in a long, long time.

Rumpel and Shayera allow each other to be exactly who they are, without apology, without condemnation or alteration.  Isn’t that ultimately what we’re all looking for?  The ability to be entirely and utterly authentic?  To have another human being see us as whole regardless of how many breaks or holes we see in ourselves?  Isn’t that the definition of the perfect fairy tale?  To find your perfect reflection that celebrates the entirety of who you are in this world that seeks to dampen, deny and avoid our individual truths?

It’s my perfect fairy tale.  And Rumpel’s Prize is it.  Wholeheartedly.

*This review was originally published for Wicked Women Book Blog.*


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