Daniel Z. Lieberman's "Tales from the Palace of the Fairy King" is a whimsical collection of fairytales that pays homage, in the very best way, to classical fairytales like those from The Brothers Grimm or Hans Christian Anderson. However, these tales are also new classics in their own right. These are not just retellings of old favorites; these are wholly original tales. Each one makes for the perfect bedtime reading, either as a family or on your own. The stories each have an enduring message of hope and good triumphing over evil. The best part about reading these stories as a family is that each family member takes something slightly different from each story. As parents, we tend to take more of the deeper themes to heart, but the kids enjoy the stories for their adventure and magic.
“Tales from the Palace of the Fairy King” is delightful—it mixes beautifully told tales with humor, romance, and the occasional bittersweet tragedy.
The book is a collection of seven stories. It includes “The Apple Tree,” in which a boy falls in love with a princess and allows himself to be turned into an apple tree to shade her and bring her joy; “The Princess and the Goatherd,” in which a spoiled princess makes one gesture of charity that will go on to change her life; “The Dark Forest,” in which a fairy prince goes up against not only the deadly dark beasts in the forest, but against his own nature; and more. There are imps, fairies, magical spyglasses, royalty, and peasants—in short, all of the things that go into fairy tales and make them magical.
“Tales from the Palace of the Fairy King” manages to capture the classic voice you associate with fairy tales—an omniscient narrator who is kindly and wise and telling you the story. However, it is not stuffy or old-fashioned; many of the tales have a sly wit to them, and the romances are fresh and lovely. My favorite tale was “The Princess and the Goatherd”—it was not only funny, but featured a princess of a different sort, one who isn’t perfect but instead needs to grow into a better person. However, all of the tales are entertaining; “The Dark Forest” veers into almost Tolkien-esque territory. I also liked how the tales go a bit deeper than just romance or overcoming magical obstacles—the characters often face internal battles as well.
I would recommend this novel to readers who enjoy classic or re-told fairy tales and are looking for original stories in the same vein.
‘Tales from the Palace of the Fairy King’ by Daniel Z. Lieberman is a collection of fantasy stories reminiscent of classic fairy tales from my childhood. It doesn’t mean they are trite and formulaic, instead, they are a mix of edgy, bold, and modern tales that can easily appeal to the new generation of young adult readers.
What’s impressive about this collection is that it seamlessly combines themes of death, immortality, love, and friendship that make for a wonderful reading experience. The timeless theme of love is evident in all the stories, but told in a new light.
Among the stories, I enjoyed “Avery and Sophie” the most because of its clever plot and the unexpected twist towards the end. It works on many levels because it tackles issues of love, death, friendship and presents them with a mix of magic and mysticism.
The stories are very entertaining because there’s familiarity, and yet there’s this element of unpredictability that draws you in.
This book contains seven short fairy stories, but these are not your grandmother's fairies. These are not Andrew Lang's colored fairy books. The fairies are not like J.M. Barrie's Tinker Bell. The author has done his homework. He has not written about Tolkien J.R.R.'s elves. He's gone further back. Past George MacDonald, past theBrothers Grimm, and Hans Christian Andersen. He modeled his fairies on the fairy knights of Edmund Spencer's The Faerie Queene. They are closer to the Fey of William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream or the eldila in C.S. Lewis's Space Trilogy.
There is a lot of variety among the seven stories. Two of the stories ("The Dark Forest" and "The Fairy Who Became Mortal") share a common character, Prince Cor, eldest son of the King of the Fairies. One of the stories ("The Little Cloud") isn't about fairies at all (but still fits nicely into the book).
My favorite story was "The Magic Spyglass". When you finish reading it, you'll know why.
There were a number of memorable lines in the stories. "He went upstairs, entered one of the bedrooms, and fell asleep on a mattress stuffed with the cotton of moonlit clouds." And '"Refraction" and "magnification" are useful words, and they help scientists do wonderful things, but they don't take away the magic from a glass that holds the secret of how to bend the airy beams of light.'
I'm looking forward to more books from this author.
Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but it rarely makes for satisfying reading material. So many writers have tried and failed to recapture that wonder we felt reading Lewis, or Tolkien, or MacDonald for the first time. It pleases me very much to say that Daniel Z. Lieberman is not one of them. Tales From The Palace Of The Fairy King is a MacDonald-esque collection of stories that borrows a lot from the classics, but never once feels stale or played out. It feels old (in the best sense) and new (also in the best sense) at the same time. The tales are teeming with truth, and meaning, and beauty. The characters are compelling, and there is even some humor snuck in. The whole collection just has this life and light about it. I was enchanted throughout.
I would encourage any enthusiasts of the genre to invest in a copy of Tales. It is so rare to find stories like this anymore. Read them, my friends, and treasure them.
The language is simple, suitable for children, perhaps that is why it can touch the child within each of us, but the ideas are for everyone, regardless of age; lighthearted, innocent, joyous, and warm, with here and there a bit of humor spattered about like leaf-dappled sunshine, this book is worth reading time and again. It is a timely reminder of what it is to be human, in all its grit and glory, in an age where technology, insipidness, and social isolation have driven the very concept from so many minds, which I suppose is the whole point of a fairy tale! It minds me much of the fairy tales of Oscar Wilde and George MacDonald in tone and style, alas I cannot give it five stars, which is reserved for literary saints like Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, and Jane Austen which deserve a rating system far above that used for ordinary mortal writers.
The smell of an autumn forest, the sound of winter under foot, to taste sunshine in an apple freshly plucked from a branch – these sensory threads create an immediate connection to nature and it’s power in this fine collection of fairy tales. Told in rich and vibrant language the imagery makes possible to in fact see and feel ideas such as love and light, darkness and despair.
In classic fairy tale style young listeners will recognize elements of good and evil when read to aloud. Older readers will appreciate the human feelings of bravery and fear, triumph and failure. Struggle is illustrated deftly and resolution celebrated with quiet joy.
I find it quite hard to write a review on such a collection of good fairy tales, as it is a rarity to come across them alongside the postmodern road: a real treasure.
The stories have their own magical originality, that speak of princesses, princes, farm boys, goblins, fairies, and other mythical creatures. And each tale has the ability to strike the human heart with simple truths that challenge us with themes of love, chilvary, courage, truth, and humility.
Leiberman's style is much like Neil Gaiman's, C.S. Lewis', and George MacDonald's style intertwined together with the clever use of: capturing readers with simple, yet quality language, while staying hypnotically beautiful and fun and serious, and containing moral value.
It takes real art to write true fairy tales that leave your heart wanting more, with a desire for the simplicity of truths, even when the stories are finished, and Leiberman did just that. Could not put the book down, yet the thought of finishing the book was a dreadful thought.
These stories are real jewels that I will read more than once, as one can never be too old to read fairy tales.