Thursday Thistle by August V. Fahren (Submission)
Genre: Bizarro fiction, fractured fairy tale, fantasy, did I really just read what I think I did?
Rating: 3.24 out of 5 stars
Summary: Thursday Thistle is cursed with an ordinary existence fraught with evil step-sisters and a useless father. But all this changes when she follows a two-headed mouse and finds herself in a magical world called Lethe, where it is up to her to save Princess Monday, one of seven sisters named after the days of the week.
As I previously discussed in this post, bizarro literature is a branch of fiction near and dear to my literary heart. This is not to be confused with my real heart which isn’t nearly as optimistic or full of feeling. Anyway, roughly a week and a half ago, I got contacted on facebook by author August V. Fahren about reviewing his new bizarro novel, Thursday Thistle. Of course I said yes. Bizarro AND fairy tales, what’s not to love?
This story opens in the style of Cinderella, with Thursday Thistle being forced to do chores and simultaneously being tormented by her evil step-sisters, Charity and Joy. As expected, one is extremely round and short and the other is thin and tall. Although neither of them cut off portions of their feet to fit in glass slippers. Damn Grimm Brother, you’re so grim.
As with Cinderella, Thursday has bad luck with women. Her mother died during a “Hava Nagila” mishap and her step-mother ran off to follow a Pink Floyd cover band and take psychotropic drugs. She fills this gap by drawing (although she only draws robot mermaids) and obsessively watching Disney’s Snow White. Oh, and did I mention she collects crickets and lets them crawl on her while she masturbates? No? I must have missed that part.
Her journey begins when a two headed mouse, one head named Maya, the other Amnesia leads Thursday into a magical world a la the White Rabbit. The majority of this tale takes place in this world, called Lethe, the birthplace of fairy tales and where Thursday learns the true meaning of self (as everyone does in fairy tales- if only that happened in real life). Lethe is also a river in the Underworld (the Greek version of the afterlife) and drinking from it results in forgetfulness, much as traveling through Lethe enables Thursday to forget the world she left behind. It’s also necessary if you’re trying to brew the Forgetfulness Potion in Pottermore.
From here things get even weirder, and we begin to meet the seven princesses of Lethe, who all seem obsessed with the fact that Princess Monday is missing. Some are inspired by existing princesses in fairy tales, others seem to be complete fabrications. All of them have alliterative first names that give a clue as to their paranormal abilities/nature, which is why I’ve chosen to exclude those (they give away too much!). Like they do in Twilight.
- Princess Sunday = Trapped in a very deep sleep, may or may not be inspired by the Sleeping Beauty (or “The Lost Temple of Rivina”).
- Princess Monday = Missing, rumored to have been kidnapped by the Cannibal Queen, who steals faces and eats babies to stay young. Elizabeth Báthory much?
- Princess Tuesday = Lives in a gingerbread house and wears a chocolate dress, anal retentive, bipolar, has a feral servant/horn dog named Babe.
- Princess Wednesday = Based on Snow White, being kept in bondage by the Seven Diminutives as a sex slave, if she bites you it results in a contraction of nympho fever, likes breaking out into song.
- Princess Thursday = Extremely low self-esteem, in an abusive relationship with Prince Charming.
- Princess Friday = Doesn’t understand homonyms, is unaffected by gravity, has a harem of ladies at her beck and call.
- Princess Saturday = Clinically depressed emo girl with a tendency to go a little wacky.
In addition to these princesses, we meet the 7 dwarves, who prefer to be called diminutives, a donkey who poops lamb fetuses to create a new-age breadcrumb trail, sexy zombies, mime monkeys, and a clockwork tortoise and hare. If anything, Fahren’s mind is not short on ideas or imagination. Or craziness, which I personally take as a compliment.
Fahren has a very interesting writing style, which I found to be original and refreshing. It would be impossible for me to explain just what I mean, so I’m leaving you with one of my favorite quotes from this work. At this point in the narrative, we are getting our first glimpse of the Cannibal Queen, who is most certainly inspired by Snow White’s step-mother (does that poor lady even have a real name!?!) “‘Am I not the most comely in the land?’ She tosses the husk on the mummified pile of other infants, as though she were casting off her rhetorical question like her past meals.” It might be a heavy narrative style, but I like its balls.
Now it’s not a perfect story, there are a lot of points where I get pulled from the tale by elements that seem thrown in for mere shock value, or when Fahren is describing a noise and he just writes onomatopoeias for an entire paragraph, or when the dialogue is so forced and painful. But this is his first novel, and a self-published one at that. Despite these challenges, he still manages to weave a light, enjoyable tale. I was going to say yarn, but I’m not that old yet.
-Interesting concept which brings in well known fairy tales
-Nice way to pass a couple of hours, my read made an unbearable train ride very bearable
-Lots of fun, off the wall ideas
-Affordable and easy to purchase ($0.99 hells yes!)
-An overuse of onomatopoeia can be distracting and take you out of the narrative
-Dialogue needs a little more work (reads as spontaneous and forced), but will improve with time
-Sometimes things get too weird, depending on who you are this could also go in the good column
As a side note, I wanted to talk about how awesomely affordable a good deal of Kindle Books are. Just the other day I got The Hangman’s Daughter for $0.99! $0.99! Of course it was only on sale for the day, but STILL. How do I track these magical sales so I can buy eBooks on the cheap?