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The student news site of Carlisle High School

Periscope

The student news site of Carlisle High School

Periscope

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Lyric Koch
Lyric Koch
Perspectives editor

Fierce Fairytales: Poems and Stories that Truly Stir Your Soul (Review)

A+copy+of+the+poetry+and+short+story+collection+titled%2C+Fierce+Fairytales%3A+Stories+and+Poems+to+Stir+Your+Soul.+
Laura Sands
A copy of the poetry and short story collection titled, Fierce Fairytales: Stories and Poems to Stir Your Soul.

“But the universe never promised 

you this would be easy,  

after all, you are the hero here. 

And heroes are meant  

to be forged golden 

from the blaze.” 

Once upon a time in a small book titled Fierce Fairytales: Poems & Stories to Stir Your Soul, author Nikita Gill kidnaps readers and takes them back into the dreamland of their childhood. But unlike the fairytales of yore, she doesn’t leave them there. While weaving through classic fairytales Gill refuses to let people forget the real world they live in. With enrapturing poems and short stories, the Instagram famous poet Nikita Gill masterfully leads teenagers of today through the woods of life in the form of contemporary fairytale retellings. 

Fairytales originated hundreds of years ago and continue to thrive today, but Gill wasn’t satisfied with the original stories, and decided to make them her own that reflects our world. Helpless princesses became the heroes, at the tip of her pen. Monsters became wounded girls, the villain wasn’t the stepmother but the abusive father, witches became heartbroken women, and wolves became men stalking the corners of streets. Stories written in the 1600’s reflect the viewpoint of the time and for ages it remained the same. 

The Grimm brothers told us Cinderella needed a prince to save her and Disney rolled with it, telling another generation of girls that if they were in trouble, they needed a man to save them. Gill throws this idea out the door, instead choosing to focus on the beginning of the story. She writes three poems and one short story about Cinderella and her family before the fateful ball. This narrative sets Cinderella as her own person. That she was a girl worthy of a story before the Fairy Godmother, before the ball, before the Happily Ever After. I love hearing Gill’s take on the classic story because it opens up new conversations around the characters, all while providing an entertaining new story.

But Gill doesn’t just remake Cinderella’s story. Fierce Fairytales is formatted in such a way that there are three to four poems and/or short stories for each well-known fairytale, completed with occasional illustrations the Gill drew. Now, not only does the Little Mermaid’s tale get a redo, but readers also learn about how the Sea Witch became a witch, and what the Little Mermaid’s mother actually wanted for her daughter. Gill’s writing is masterful because in addition to retelling the main character’s story in a new way, stops to question everything we are told about the side characters as well. Gill took everything the world knows about fairytales and completely flipped it on its head.  

The point of this poetry collection is to change everything we think we know about fairytales including, and most prominently the “damsel in distress” trope Because Gill sets out to change that, the main theme of this book is women becoming their own and being strong enough to fight whatever beasts are sent their way. As a teenager who’s been sent her fair share of beasts and faced them, the first two-thirds of this book were beyond moving. I found myself close to tears after almost every poem. I connected with them so much and Gill’s masterful description lulled me into a world that felt like my childhood but connected to the deeper part of me. It had everything I expected of a poetry book full of fairytale retellings. Gill used simple words in complex lines to convey a modern twist on fairy tales with vibrant descriptions. She portrayed the shaded forests and the clouded minds so clearly. I could see the stars shining over Wendy, and the beanstalk towering over Jack. I loved it. I loved the controversy; the witches who were just hurt and the princess who wanted nothing to do with a prince. It was moving, and there were poems that could get people tearing up from all walks of life. It was golden.  

One of my favorite lines in this book comes from a poem titled The Girl Goes After the Wicked King Who Trapped Her in the Tower, about a girl who is claiming her throne from an evil king who wronged her and the citizens. I love the line “You did not know that Athena was my patron saint, Hera my deity,” because it demonstrates a girl who is fueled by Athena, the goddess of war and wisdom, and Hera, the goddess of women and motherhood.

“You did not know that Athena was my patron saint, Hera my deity,”

— -Nikita Gill-

With elegant word choice, and wonderfully thought-out metaphor Gill shows readers that a woman can be both strong, strategic warriors and gentle mothers. 

 It was perfect for the first half, until Gill ran out of fairytales to redo. She wrote multiple poems for Rumpelstiltskin, Peter Pan, Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland, Badroulbadour, Beauty and the Beast, she did them all, so by the time she got to the last half of the book she started reusing themes. Poem after poem was just hating on men, saying women didn’t need them.  Occasionally Gill would insert a reference to fairytales, like comparing a woman to a witch, but she stopped aligning them with fairytales. The retellings got lost and the themes became overused and over-saturated.  

I was most disappointed in the lack of strong women with men, with love, in this book. Gill includes so many strong women that overcome so many things, but it pains me that there is no narrative that a woman can be strong and have a man love her for it. Almost all of the men in this poetry collection are terrible, which is refreshing after repeatedly seeing the perfect golden prince in all fairytales, but if Gill’s goal is to turn the narrative and tell different sides of the story, she should do it for the prince’s as well. Instead of only having the men fear the wild, free, witch, it’s important to include a story where there’s a prince who loves her for it, because those stories exist in the real world just as much as the cautionary tales.  

Fierce Fairytales is a book of poems and short stories that will indeed stir the soul and change how you think about fairytales. Beginning poetry readers will find this accessible because Gill uses simple words that don’t take hours of thought to riddle out the meaning, but still have the flow and thought-provoking themes of poetry. Fantasy fans will feel welcome in Gills descriptions and at home in the upside-down fairytale world. Gill will lead a new generation of storytellers that challenge conventional thinking and I’m thrilled to be able to watch that unfold. 

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About the Contributor
Laura Sands, Staff Writer
Laura Sands is a junior and she’s excited for her first year in Periscope. Outside of school Laura enjoys reading, writing, music, and playing with her dogs and cats. You may also see her on the Coffeehouse stage.  
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