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Steve Wiley
A Beard Tangled in Dreams: The True Story of Rip Van Winkle
Steve Wiley, author
Neil Gaiman meets Sigmund Freud in this imaginative retelling of the first American fairytale, Rip Van Winkle. The original Rip Van Winkle was a modest sixty-four pages. Quite short for a tale spanning twenty years. Why so short? None of those pages accounted for all the years that languorous legend spent asleep. There has never been a single published word of what Rip dreamt all those years, until now. Those wildest of dreams follow Rip from the furthest reaches of his mysterious past, through every enchanted forest of folklore, to a wedding without end in the future. This remarkable sailing over the Sea of Dreams reveals not only the truth behind Rip Van Winkle and his notorious slumber, but the real meaning in dreams for us all. From Fairytale Chicago author Steve Wiley comes another thought-provoking and unconventional fantasy, sure to help readers of all ages rediscover their own inner dreamer.
Plot/Idea: 8 out of 10
Originality: 8 out of 10
Prose: 8 out of 10
Character/Execution: 7 out of 10
Overall: 7.75 out of 10


Plot/Idea: Wiley’s intriguing reimagining of Washington Irving’s classic tale gambols around Dreamland. Wiley is free to add in new elements to such a dreamscape: characters as various as Anubis, William Blake, and Morgan Le Fay, which makes for an entertaining read. However, the overall thrust of the narrative is lost as the reader is left wondering whose story this is: Rip’s or Deacon’s?

Prose: Wiley’s prose has an alluring fireside chat sensibility. His frequent addresses to the reader emulate the narrative style of tall tales about folk heroes like Pecos Bill and Paul Bunyan.

Originality: Wiley brings in several disparate ideas and threads them together to create a wholly original, inventive tale. However, his choice to include excerpts from Irving’s original text in the middle of his novel results in a bit of an unfavorable comparison.

Character Development/Execution: Deacon is the most likable character in the story; his perseverance on this quest to find Rip will resonate with readers. The subtitle of the tale is somewhat misleading; The True Story of Rip Van Winkle seems to suggest that Rip will be the lead and readers will follow his adventures. However, the titular character makes a quick appearance only to disappear and then reappear halfway through the novel.

Blurb: An inventive revisioning of Washington Irving’s 1819 classic Rip Van Winkle that explores the landscape of dreams. As Rip sleeps, he disrupts the creatures of Dreamland, most notably the faun lighthouse keeper Deacon, who must find Rip before he destroys the fabric of dreams. 

Date Submitted: April 28, 2022