The Faery Taile Project
by Jim C. Hines
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
The Faery Taile Project / 978-0-9790889-6-4
This novella is less than 100 pages long, broken into two separate stories, and with a large font size and incredibly wide paragraph spacing.
The first story tells the modern adaptation of the "Red Riding Hood" tale from the point of view of the wolf, Lobo. A bad sign is the opening editor's note cautioning the reader to read Lobo's tale first: in order to make this "dual-story" work, important details were withheld from "Lobo's Tale" so that "Red's Tale" can eventually pack more punch. (I was also astonished at Kastensmidt's opening lines that the Spanish word "lobo" is a common enough name for wolves "down in Mexico" but that it's not common "around these parts"...in *Texas*. Texas! Spanish names, according to Kastensmidt, are not common in Texas. Except, I guess, for cities. And street names. And rivers. And everything else.)
The actual story has almost no meat to it. Lobo falls completely head-over-heels for Red, once he spies her in a diner, on account of her sheer smoking hotness. In an attempt to cast Lobo as a naive innocent patsy, the authors have ham-fistedly overstepped their goal and have made Lobo a complete barking idiot. Though wolf shoes "haven't been invented yet", Red is able to give him the slip with a casual "Shoes untied" statement and, instead of looking at her in confusion, he immediately gapes down at his feet. When Red robs Lobo blind right in front of his very eyes, he is merely confused by the fact that several large bills are now missing from his wallet. This just doesn't work! If they had made Lobo smarter yet more star-struck - perhaps if Lobo realized that of course he'd been robbed, but that poor sweet girl probably had a very good reason and all the more need for him to rescue her - then the set-up might hold the reader more, but as it is it doesn't.
The rest of the tale kills time until the final 38th page. Lobo meets Granny, Lobo eats pork chops at Granny's, Lobo drinks iced tea at Granny's, and so forth - and Lobo notes without suspicion Red's increasingly suspicious behavior, all ham-fistedly designed to make her seem 100% pure evil. When Red asks Lobo to don Granny's nightgown for a kinky sex-game, well, the end is in sight.
Another thing maddening about "Lobo's Tale" is that Kastensmidt uses a minimum of five similes per page. Bad ones, terrible ones, things like: "Thoughts began to bang around my head like a gorilla in a luggage commercial."
"Red's Tale" is theoretically supposed to tell the same tale as "Lobo's Tale" but from Red's sympathetic point of view, but it doesn't. It doesn't "tell the same tale" because pretty much 90% of Red's Tale was deliberately left out of "Lobo's Tale" because they couldn't figure out a way to include it without spoiling the 'twist' at the end. And it doesn't show Red sympathetically because we find that she really is nearly as evil as seen in "Lobo's Tale" and she just has a reason for being evil. "Red's Tale" is almost as boring as "Lobo's Tale", with pages and pages of exposition and inner monologue and very little action to move the story along. The story lumbers to a halt at page 58.
I cannot recommend "The Faery Taile Project" in good conscience to readers. While not a total waste of paper, the book is a huge waste of time, taking a cute concept and utterly killing it with an over-the-top approach that is annoying, and a capacity for cutesy camp that is cloying. Check this out at the library if you must, but I'll bet you'll want your time back afterward.
~ Ana Mardoll
View all my reviews