I was thrilled to receive an Advanced Reader Copy of Disenchanted, penned by the writing duo Heide Goody and Iain Grant. I invite you to put your feet up, scroll down and find out about this fun-filled book and read my review. You can also read a post compiled by the authors – another of Dr Alexander’s letters to them, which contains an insight into the research material used to create the novel. I am particularly pleased to be hosting this particular letter as it features the town of Tamworth, which I know very well. More of Dr Alexander’s letters can be found on the other blog’s in this tour. 🙂
“Ella Hannaford has a small business to run, an overworked father to look after and a future stepmother who wants a perfect wedding.
Can she avoid a girly night out with her clueless stepsister? Can she side-step lovesick suitors at every turn? Not if it’s up to that team of foul-mouthed dwarfs who want to forcibly drag her into her happily ever after.
Gingerbread cottages, dodgy European gangsters, gun-toting grannies, wisecracking wolves, stubborn fairy godmothers, ogres, beanstalks and flying carpets abound in a tale about what happens when you refuse to accept your Happy Ending.”
My Review ~ 5 Stars *****
Magic and mayhem collide in riotous fairy tale romp!
As someone who is an unabashed romance novel addict and who also loves fairy tales, I could not resist the chance to review Heide Goody’s and Iain Grant’s Disenchanted. The premise of the novel – where the heroine very definitely does not want a HEA, despite the meddling of a host of formidable magical creatures, also appealed to my sense of the perverse. Indeed, I found the read to be a real tonic and I defy anyone to read it and not crack a smile and/or stifle a gaffaw within reading the first few pages!
If you thought that fairy tales were firmly consigned to superstitions from the past and story books for children, then think again. Magical creatures really exist, although Ella the heroine would much rather they were not quite so fixated on controlling her life. Much of the action takes place in rural England (predominantly the Midlands), as Ella veers from one adventure to another in her quest to avoid her prospective suitors at all costs and at the same time unravel issues from her family’s past. I loved the fact that Ella is a 21st century woman (no simpering miss) and does not need a ANY interference, magical or otherwise, in her life thank you very much. Her efforts to resist the fate her fairy godmother and her associates have planned for her drive the plot forward and the conflict makes for some hilarious scenes as the authors expertly turned the usual HEA fairy tale tropes on their head…
This unique and humorous tale includes an evil stepmother to be, a gung-ho grandmother, unlikely prospective suitors, a fairy godmother, dwarves, a big bad wolf and more. Combined with an indomitable heroine and a series of larger than life characters, it’s a fast-paced, laugh-a-minute, feel good read, with some excellent one-liners.
It was my first experience of the authors’ work and I now have a real taste for their irreverent humour and will be reading some of their other works very soon. Thoroughly recommended to readers who enjoy a fun filled read and magical read.
Reviewed by Tina Williams
Please note that an ARC of this book was given to me by the authors for the purpose of a fair and honest review.
The links are:
A Post from the Authors
Heide and Iain’s latest novel, Disenchanted, is out this month. The fairy tale fantasy comedy was written with no small assistance from Dr Epiphany Alexander of Sheffield University’s Department for Folklore and Oral History. As an insight into the research material used to create Disenchanted, we present another of Dr Alexander’s letters to the author duo.
My Dear Friends,
When last I wrote to you, I believe I was trapped in the trunk of a Lincoln Continental in downtown Tucson, Arizona. I found time to reflect upon some of the unusual things that have happened in my life over recent days, and I was able to draw some useful conclusions. So it was that when Pak Choi suggested that we might slip out via his homeland, I immediately agreed, as I had determined what should be our next course of action.
One should always be wary of spending too much time in Faerie, as it ages the skin terribly, so I had Pak Choi immediately open another portal back into the real world, and this one to the town of Tamworth.
As I am sure you’re aware, Tamworth was the seat of the Saxon rulers of Mercia, and it was for this reason that I needed to visit. The photograph in the domunculus I had seen in Tuscon was unmistakeably a picture of Æthelflæd. Æthelflæd was the daughter of Alfred the Great, and known as the Lady of Mercia. Pak Choi opened a convenient doorway that emerged in the river meadow in the shadow of Tamworth castle.
The castle is built at the confluence of two rivers, the Tame and the Anker, and this important junction is the subject of a local fairy tale, known as The Mermaid and the Mother. A local boy, Tom, liked to spend time by the river, although his mother warned him to be careful of mermaids. Tom was confident that he would not be tricked by the notoriously sly mermaids, and continued to pass his days on the pleasant grassy banks. When a swan engaged him in conversation he was not afraid, and even took the swan home to meet his mother. It turned out that the swan was a mermaid, and by inviting her over the threshold of his home, Tom was now betrothed to her. Tom didn’t mind the prospect of spending the rest of his life swimming in the river with this fascinating creature, but his mother was determined to prevent the marriage so she heated up the oven, preparing to roast the swan. The cunning mermaid passed word of this to the town’s magistrate, who was naturally obliged to protect the royal bird and so threw the mother in jail, and presided over the nuptials in her absence.
[Here is a picture of the mother preparing to cook the swan]
Pak Choi and I enjoyed the brief and pleasant walk up into the town, passing by the Assembly Rooms, which bears Tamworth’s unofficial coat of arms. This features a pair of mermaids, popularly supposed to be Tom and his bride.
I wanted to visit the library, where I believed there was an archive of the local newspapers. The late Mabel Swift had a popular history column in this for many years, and it was her work that I wished to review, as I had heard that she had a great deal of expertise regarding the life of Æthelflæd and I needed to find out what link there might be with Andrew Lang’s Black Fairy Book. In the library, a bespectacled assistant called Ernest offered to copy all of the relevant material for me, and suggested that I should enjoy a walk around the shady pathways between the library and St Editha’s church while I waited. Pak Choi and I enjoyed this very much, as there are lots of cheeky squirrels who seem unafraid of people and so Pak Choi was able to have a hearty gossip with them without attracting too much attention. He passed on a bawdy tale of squirrel-based derring-do which I will relate here for your amusement, as I know that your book Disenchanted touches on some rather base elements.
A squirrel called Ewan declared himself king of the nuts, by virtue of the fact that nobody else had thought to do it first. He had a throne constructed of nuts and made all of his subjects bring him nut-based tributes. He was an unpopular ruler as nobody could ever see any benefit to his reign, only the burden of supplying nuts for his insatiable appetite.
It became known that he needed so many nuts to sustain his lovemaking, as he liked to visit whatever passes for a red light district in squirrel terms (I’m afraid that Pak Choi’s excessive mirth made this point a little unclear to me). Ewan’s subjects decided that they could cure these urges with the use of a classic honey trap. They recruited a delightfully pretty girl squirrel. Pak Choi used the term hotsy totsy. I honestly don’t know where he gets it from, I think these squirrels are a bad influence. The attractive squirrel was charged with engaging the squirrel king in energetic lovemaking, but whenever he reached for a nut (as he would do throughout) she would bite him vigorously. You might think that this tale ends with Ewan’s re-education, perhaps renouncing his reign over the nuts, but you’d be wrong. It actually ends with him contracting tetanus and dying, which had Pak Choi and his bushy-tailed friends falling about and hooting with laughter.
[Here is a picture of the King of the Nuts]
There is an interesting anchor-themed sculpture near the church. It is a memorial to Colin Grazier, one the three British seaman who retrieved secret documents from a sinking German submarine in World War Two. The Enigma code books were amongst those documents, enabling those clever people over at Bletchley Park to understand the Germans’ encrypted messages. Sadly, young Colin, a local lad, drowned when the sub went down.
[here is Pak Choi’s sketch of the sculpture]
I had my own mystery to solve and codes to break and felt inspired by Colin’s example as I went back into the library to see what Ernest had found for me. The librarian had uncovered and photocopied a wealth of local history material for me.
Ernest looked at me intently and enquired if I would like to join him for a drink of locally brewed real ale, over which he could tell me some more about the local area. Lovely though the little man was, I can’t abide real ale. I dismissed his advances with brief thanks and made a sharp exit. I had much to think about. I was not in need of ale but of some quiet thinking time and a cup of Pak Choi’s soothing tea.
I post this to you in the knowledge that I have promised to meet you in Birmingham tomorrow to help celebrate the launch of your new book. I see no reason at all why I can’t get to the bottom of this mystery and then come meet with you, dear friends.
Dr E. Alexander
Dr Epiphany Alexander’s latest book, “One Day My Prints Will Come: How Early Printers Hindered the Spread of Fairy Tales” is currently available from Sheffield Academic Press.
Heide Goody and Iain Grant’s novel, Disenchanted, is available now from Amazon.