Title: Seventh Night
Format Published: Smashwords Edition, published by Amoeba Ink co.
Writing fairy tales today is an interesting task. It seems that every few years, someone puts out a book that is either seeking to or somehow accidentally redefines how fairy tales are told. Sometimes, it’s something like ‘The Princess Bride’, a book that takes a rather irreverent look at all the conceits of fairy taledom and plays them in a rather tongue in cheek fashion. Other times, it’s a book like ‘Wicked’, and all the various ‘retellings’ of classic tales, fairy and non fairy alike, that seek to pull a deeper meaning out of the familiar cast of characters, often by putting more meat on the fictional bones of a little realized character from the original work. And then of course, there’s always the attempt to revolutionize how a fairy tale is told, to do something completely new and different.
‘Seventh Night’ by Iscah….accomplishes all three.
The plot is basically that in order to bring peace between her land and another, a princess, the Seventh Night of the title, agrees to marry a Prince from the other land. Only it turns out the Prince may not be the Prince….and along the way, she trips across a Magician’s Apprentice who is also not a Prince, but may be someone she could be in love with. Mix into this liberally a murder plot, a few royal family secrets, and a quest like sojourn into a land literally of wizards and sprinkle in the required bad guys, who may actually appear to be good guys first in this book, and the good guys, who are ambiguous at best as to which side of the line they stride sometimes, and what you end up with is wonderful tale replete with magic, love, monsters, betrayal, unicorns, intrigue, and …all the stuff fairy tales are made of.
Iscah’s ‘Seventh Night’ definitely bears comparison to ‘The Princess Bride’ for its rather brusque and modern style of storytelling. The characters obviously should fit certain fairy tale molds and even some are conscious that they should and do not, so there is a lot of humor and winking throughout at the story at the original source material. If not handled well, this can often be distracting or weigh down a tale. Not in this case. Iscah masterfully weaves a tale and never once loses her sense of humor or wonder for the genre she is working within.
This is not so much a retelling of any particular fairy tale, but more of a retelling of fairy tales in general. Isaac takes the established patterns, regular storylines, and, instead of really tearing them apart and making something new, she actually utilizes the tropes that already exist and gives new life to them. Also, she takes the classic character types and, by giving them a certain degree of self awareness, redefines the stereotypical princess to be married off, the underdog love interest, the sorceress, and all the other character types that have to populate a good fairy tale. This is how she both essentially produces a retelling of fairy tales that gives more insight into the characters AND creates a new way to tell them, which in large part involves seeing the old, familiar pieces of fairy tales through imaginative and modern eyes.
Iscah’s ‘Seventh Night’ is definitely five pages out of five. It is also perhaps one of the best books I read in the last year and is most definitely the best and most successful attempt to bring the fairy tale into the modern era, not be changing the setting, but simply by taking all the parts that work and casting them in a thoroughly updated light.
By my personal scale, this gets Six out of Six bullets. It is fantastic and fun read, fully loaded to entertain one and all.