Sunday, March 24, 2013

The Monster of Blackwell

I'm still in the midst of The Red Garden by Alice Hoffman. Tonight, I finish the "The Monster of Blackwell."

It's bruising and graceful—a tender, aching spin on the iconic tale of beauty and the beast. Red-haired Kate is the beauty; and Matthew's the beast that hides in the woods and becomes a bear.

One day Kate loses herself when she loses a boy; Matthew finds them both.

And so begins another kind of hiding, a different way of seeing, but it's all wrapped up in melancholy. Because Matthew is so ugly he can't even look at himself and people run away from him. And Kate is the daughter of the free-spirited sister, Azurine, who went to Paris in the story before.

That's how The Red Garden works, a loosely woven cloth that the forward momentum of time unravels thread by thread.

I want Matthew to stay, to become an impressive man on the outside, too. That would be a different fairytale, charming and soft. Not one that cuts so deep you nearly die from a single wound.

Sigh. I can only read one story at a time.