Category: Miscellaneous

8 Decades of SFF with Low, Intimate Stakes

Posted May 6, 2019 by dove-author in Miscellaneous / 0 Comments


Hi, everyone! I hope your week is off to a fantastic start! I know. I know. No one likes Mondays because the week’s off to a new start. But you know what Mondays also mean? It’s time for Monday Musings! Wherein I ramble about various and sundry depending on my whim or Patreon requests/suggestions. Posts are somewhere below 2,500 words at most and consist of short personal essays and discussions.

8 Decades of SFF with Low, Intimate Stakes

Every so often on Twitter, I see people talking about a desire for low stakes SFF. As a writer and reader who loves these stories, it always fills me with a tinge of sadness to know that people genuinely want these stories (the tweets come from readers, agents, publishers, authors, so basically everyone) and still feel they often get lost in the more well-known books with large, epic stakes.

Book series such as A Song of Ice and Fire (or Game of Thrones), The Lord of the Rings, The Wheel of Time or, more recently books such as The Poppy War or series like The Sacred Throne where the stakes revolve around saving the world (or not). Where the characters struggle to win a throne (or destroy the throne entirely). Stories that lend themselves to a lot of action or at least several impressive battle scenes.

Very often, though, if you look closely at the way a lot of people discuss these books, it’s not the big stakes that form the central plot that people care about. Look at, for example, the fan commentary leading up to the release of Game of Thrones’s final TV season and the discussion about what the ending may be. While we all care about who sits on the Iron Throne, many of us do so not because we have care overly much about the future of countless of unnamed Westerosi. We care because the show made us care about these characters as individuals. It presented us these big, world-shaking moments and turned them into deeply, intensely personal stakes for the characters which, in turn, means we’re invested in their success (or failure) as individuals rather than out of any kind of concern for the good of Westeros as a whole. For another example that needs little elaboration: if the much smaller and personal stakes didn’t matter, The Lord of the Rings would have ended shortly after Sauron is defeated. But they matter and so it doesn’t.

Books that celebrate smaller, more intimate stakes (and shout-out to Eric Smith for introducing me to the phrasing!) and eschew focusing on the larger stakes, though, can feel like they’re far and few between or like they never existed in the first place, which is a shame because people have always written these types of stories too, even won acclaim with them.

As such, the last time I saw this mentioned, I asked my Twitter timeline if I should do a thread of books focusing on smaller stakes. The answer was a resounding ‘yes’ and I made a thread that evening. But Twitter threads get lost to the ether quite easily and I wanted to have a record of these for future reference. So, here I am, writing an introduction a post collecting the stories I mentioned in that Twitter thread for ease of reference for everyone.

Like I said at the time, my definition for inclusion on the list is two-fold:

  • No galaxy/world/kingdom-changing plot unless it’s the B-plot (and ideally a C-plot).
  • The book must have been memorable to me for its small stakes.

And, yes, that means pretty much all the books on this list are books I’ve read. It also means that I have a clearly defined limit I can use to err on the side of caution. This isn’t a complete list of all the books I’ve read which centre around small, intimate stakes. It’s just a list of the books that stood out to me at the time I made the thread.

Caveat: Due to the fact that I read some of these a long time ago, it is possible that the most detail I can give a book is “Well, I remember the small stakes being very powerful and gripping”.

For this list, I’ve decided to break the books up into decades just to illustrate that they have, indeed, always been published. That said, this list leans heavily towards modern SFF due to my own interests and desires not to link authors more than, at most, twice.

Without further ado, let’s look at books with intimate stakes in SFF fiction!


Lud-in-the-Mist by Hope Mirlees may contain a quest to save a city, but it’s far more a quest of a father determined to save his child. It’s a story of ordinary people trying to do what seems right to them.

The Charwoman’s Shadow by Lord Dunsany a story about a young man who, in wanting to learn sorcery, discovers an old woman with no shadow and sets out to solve the mystery.

We’re skipping the 1930s, yes.


Iron and Gold by Hilda Vaughan may be hard to track down – I’m not sure if the Honno edition is still in print, but I highly recommend it – but it’s an intimate retelling of The Lady of Llyn y Fan Fach and captures the Welsh landscape breathtakingly well.

Titus Groan by Mervyn Peake may seem like an odd choice. It is, after all, a chunkster, but it is a quiet book filled with love for the setting and the characters as they live their lives.

We’re skipping the 50s too.


The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle likely needs no introduction, but for those who need it: this is the story of a unicorn who is looking for others of her kind. It has some of the subtlest, quietest narrative strands. There isn’t a part of this lyrical book that isn’t understated.

The Smith of Wootton Major by J.R.R. Tolkien is a fairy story which may hold echoes of epic fantasy, but it’s largely focused on the exploration of Faery and the celebration in Wootton Major.

The Owl Service by Alan Gardner is a retelling of Blodeuwedd, centring itself in its Welsh valley setting and the way the narrative of Blodeuwedd keeps playing over and over and the generational trauma that that causes.


Greenwitch by Susan Cooper is technically the third in a series that is all about big and epic stakes, but this book is super-focused on the relationship between Jane and the Greenwitch, as well as the importance of kindness from one individual to another. The emphasis is strongly on the low and intimate stakes rather than the battle between good and evil.

The Tombs of Atuan by Ursula LeGuin is, first and foremost, a story about identity, but also about stepping out into the world and living on one’s own terms.

Beauty by Robin McKinley is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast and focuses strongly on Beauty’s life with delightful references to domesticity and focusing on the way Beauty and her family settles into their new lives.


Seaward by Susan Cooper, which is admittedly one of my favourite books ever, is all about growing up in gorgeous, lush mythology and has the sweetest first love arc ever. It’s all about its two protagonists dealing with grief and personal loss as well as discovering who they are.

The Changeling Sea by Patricia A. McKillip is all about a fisherman’s daughter who curses the sea for taking her father from her. It focuses strongly on her friendship with the prince and a magician the village hires to help them once monsters show up off-shore. It’s just as much about Peri growing up as it is discovering what draws the prince to the sea again and again.

Little, Big by John Crowley is a generational story about a family that lives right beside an otherworld with lyrical prose and subtle touches of magic throughout.

Wise Child by Monica Furlong is a story set in a quiet, medieval Scottish village. Wise Child focuses on the importance of every day life and accepting people for who they are.


The Vintner’s Luck by Elizabeth Knox is a story about the love between a vintner and an angel. Focusing on their meetings, it includes many glimpses into Sobran’s life as well.

Wizards Tale by Kurt Busiek and David Wenzel is about a wizard who really wants to be bad and just… keeps on doing good.

Winter Rose by Patricia A. McKillip is a retelling of Tam Lin and it’s one of the dreamiest, most lyrical retellings I’ve had. This story is all about Rois’s love for Corbet Lynn and the way that love and lust can consume a person.


The Mystery of Grace by Charles de Lint is… A book I admit I genuinely do not recall except thinking it focuses on low stakes. I’m informed a lot of De Lint’s novels actually have bigger stakes, but I mostly remember them because of their smaller stakes. His works absolutely centre the more intimate stakes that one would expect from a list about books focusing on low, intimate stakes.

Fitcher’s Brides by Gregory Frost is a mash-up retelling of Bluebeard and Fitcher’s Bird, set in 1800s New York State. It’s focused on the Charter sisters and their choices when their father is swayed to join a cult.

Tooth & Claw by Jo Walton is a fantasy-of-manners with cannibalistic dragons. Being a fantasy-of-manners, the story is all about social structure.

Heart’s Blood by Juliet Marillier is about Caitrin finding a new home. There are some elements of larger stakes, as the story is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast that focuses as much on the people cursed with the Beast than on the romance between the titular characters, but at its heart it’s a story about individual people learning to trust and to love.


A Promise Broken by me focuses on a small girl dealing with grief as well as on the community looking after her (and other children). There are some relatively big stakes in the background, but it’s Eiryn and her relationships to the people around her that are what makes this story tick.

Thornbound by Stephanie Burgis is actually about a nation-changing event, but the focus is so strongly on Cassandra learning she does not have to do everything alone and on saving her school that it totally counts. It’s all about Cassandra and her relationship to the people at her new school and her family, as well as family secrets that end up uncovered.

The Mermarium by Amanda N. Butler is a verse novel about mermaids and sisterhood and found family. It’s a quiet, evocative story about dealing with trauma and healing.

Water into Wine by Joyce Chng features big stakes in the background, but it’s ALL ABOUT the small stakes of a family just trying to survive while war is happening around them.

City of Strife by Claudie Arseneault may, at first glance, sound like it’s more about big stakes, but it’s really all about the way the characters interact. It’s a book filled to the brim with small, intimate stakes that add up to creating bigger stakes.

Help Wanted by J. Emery is an NA novella about friendship and questioning one’s identity. And also birthday presents and magic. It’s all about the gradual changes in our lives and dealing with them.

An Unexpected Invitation by Ceillie Simkiss is a fantasy novella that centres around attending a friend’s wedding when travelling to them means being incredibly motion sick and how to accept help from friends.

Under Her Spell by Bridget Essex is an expanded edition of a series of novellas I read when they were initially released under a pen name. They are soft and pure f/f stories about moving into a small community and love. The book’s bound to be delightful!

The Faerie Godmother’s Apprentice Wore Green by Nicky Kyle is a novelette (I think) about friendship and wanting more from life than what initially seems possible and likely.

The Tea Master and the Detective by Aliette de Bodard is a mystery and all about what happened to a corpse after it turns out to have been murdered. ONE DAY I WILL HAVE PROPER WORDS FOR THIS BOOK. ONE DAY.

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater is all about a small community that relies on racing. Also kelpies, which automatically makes it awesome in my opinion, but really. It’s all about the relationships in a small, isolated community.

The Tea Dragon Society by Katie O’Neill is all about a small group of people trying to keep ancient arts alive and the importance of art in general. (I’m told there’s also going to be a sequel!)

A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers is all about self-identity, persoonhood and found family. Also caring about one another.

On the Edge of Gone by Corinne Duyvis has some pretty big stakes, but they’re all background for the smaller stakes of family, community and working together even after the worst has happened/is happening.

Memory of Water by Emmi Itäranta is a Finnish post-apocalyptic story that centres around tea ceremonies and the protagonist discovering her place in the world, rather than overthrowing the admittedly very dystopian regime.

Emyr’s Smile by Amy Rae Durreson may be best read after The Lodestone of Ys, but it’s a sweet m/m story and two men dealing with their emotions. (CN: On-page sex)

Archivist Wasp by Nicole Kornher-Stace is, perhaps, another book you might not expect to find here, given the hints we get of the world’s past and the ending, but the focus is strongly on Wasp’s desire to be free I couldn’t leave it off.

A Harvest of Ripe Figs by Shira Glassman is the third in a series, but arguably the least big stakes of them all. It’s all about a lesbian queen and her found family solving a mystery.

Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal is a delightful story inspired by Jane Austen’s work that focuses, largely, on delivering a low-conflict fantasy-of-manners story.

Unbound and Free by Becca Lusher is the first of her Historical Aekhartain books. This one is all about Demairo and his friends, who help him deal with his abusive father and an island intent on killing everyone who sets foot on it. It’s a story about family and belonging.

Mindtouch by M.C.A. Hogarth is the first in the Dreamhealers Saga. This is an SF story about students just trying to get through university. And friendship. And dealing with anxiety and the harmful impact of stereotypes. Contains space elves, pretty much. Personally, I would recommend Dreamhearth over Mindtouch for low, intimate stakes because it’s all about settling into (adult) life and a new community. Highlight of the book is off-screen pet death (as opposed to the on-screen child dying in one’s arms that marks the climax of Mindtouch), but I don’t think it reads well on its own. You really need the grounding of the first two books to make it work.

Chime by Franny Billingsley is all about witches and family and self-love. Also unreliable narrators and small communities and one’s place in them as we grow older.

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Several of My Favourite Retellings

Posted April 29, 2019 by dove-author in Miscellaneous / 0 Comments


Hi, everyone! I hope your week is off to a fantastic start! I know. I know. No one likes Mondays because the week’s off to a new start. But you know what Mondays also mean? It’s time for Monday Musings! Wherein I ramble about various and sundry depending on my whim or Patreon requests/suggestions. Posts are somewhere below 2,500 words at most and consist of short personal essays and discussions.

Several of My Favourite Retellings

Last week, I revisited an old post about my favourite fairy tales. As that post had a companion, this week, I’m revisiting a discussion on my favourite (fairy tale) retellings.

I’m sure it doesn’t take people long to pick up on the fact that I enjoy fairy tale retellings rather a lot. I’ve only got a series exploring them, after all. I’ve always loved them. There’s something fascinating and beautiful about the many ways in which we can retell the same story without losing our originality or personality. Retellings, to me, are a testament to the power of storytelling and imagination because even the ones that are similar to one another are recognisably different and have always been such.

Talking about my favourite retellings may be a little disingenuous since, in many cases, I’ve only read the story once. I’m not great at rereading nowadays, but these are all stories that have touched me deeply and that I’ve enjoyed reading rather a lot.

One of the newest additions to my list of favourite fairy tale retellings is Aliette de Bodard’s In the Vanishers’ Palace. This is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast with a distinctly Vietnamese flavour set in a post-colonialist and post-apocalyptic world. It’s arguably science fantasy and maintains an amazing balance between being nothing like Beauty and the Beast and yet being recognisably a retelling of the fairy tale. It deals directly with the question of consent inherent in the narrative as well as the question of how such a palace could be forgotten. One of the great frustrations for me in fairy tale retellings is the way they deal with the timelessness present in the original. De Bodard deals with it beautifully and poignantly, as she deals with every aspect of the narrative. My favourite aspect, though, is almost certainly the magic and the commentary it delivers on certain well-known magic systems.

Another new addition to my list of favourite retellings is Jo Walton’s The Prize in the Game, which retells The Táin and, having finally read it, lets me posit all three of the books as a single unit for the purposes of this post. I think they’re best read closely together, to allow this prequel to nuance Sulien’s opinions and commentary in The King’s Name and The King’s Peace (both of them retellings of Arthurian legend). These books are some of the richest and most in-depth retellings I’ve ever read. Like De Bodard in In the Vanishers’ Palace, Walton retells these tales in a way that is both nothing like the original and yet unmistakably that story. There is a depth and lyricism to Walton’s retelling that encapsules both modern fantasy novel sensibilities without losing that sense of myth that comes with a story retold many times over many centuries.

Sticking with the theme of not-actually-fairy-tales and retellings of The Táin, I also want to highlight Jules Watson’s The Raven Queen. This is a historical fantasy retelling of the tale and, thus, far more recognisable in its retelling. Watson, unlike Walton, seeks to tell a story that reads like it could be the ‘real’ story before time and storytelling polished it into the tale we know today. It’s a companion piece to Watson’s The Swan Maiden, and though The Raven Queen stands on its own perfectly well, it’s worth reading The Swan Maiden first as the two are closely intertwined and you’ll get a better understanding of events overall.

Novis by Rachel Tonks Hill is a science fiction retelling of Beowulf, and exceedingly epic in its scope. I don’t even really know where to start with this one. It’s a delightful take on the tale and, despite being a science fiction setting, still manages to keep some of the horror of the original poem intact. Choosing to retelling Beowulf in a space opera allows Hill to keep everything that makes the poem so memorable whilst giving it a spin unique to the story that Hill is telling.

Returning to actual fairy tales, I cannot write a post like this without mentioning Jane Yolen’s Briar Rose, a retelling of Sleeping Beauty that weaves the fairy tale firmly into reality and tragedy by tying the narrative of the fairy tale to the Holocaust. It’s difficult to talk about this book without feeling like I’m spoiling it. One of the reasons it was so powerful to me was knowing virtually nothing about it beyond that it was a retelling of Sleeping Beauty. It is, however, one of the most powerful and heart-felt retellings, and a perfect example of how we use stories to make sense of the world around us.

Shannon Hale’s The Goose Girl is one of the most faithful retellings I’ve ever read while still making the story into an entire novel. In some ways, I think Hale’s retelling of The Goose Girl is the way it’s always lived inside my head plucked out of the world of dreams and poured into written form. In most ways it isn’t, of course. I never dreamed of Bayern or the way magic works in them. But if Seven was the novella that taught me just how different you can make a fairy tale retelling while keeping it recognisably its original then Hale’s was the book that taught me the power of staying true to a story’s core. I’ve never read a retelling that felt, so keenly, like it was an unabbreviated version of a tale.

Iron and Gold by Hilda Vaughan is a book that I can almost guarantee you’ve never heard of. It’s a retelling of a Welsh fairy tale, Lady of Llyn y Fan Fach, and is utterly, utterly gorgeous. If you enjoy fairy tales, especially an exploration of the fairy bride trope in fiction, I strongly urge you to track down a copy of this book. It’s thoughtful and thought-provoking as well as emotionally gripping. The introduction of the Honno edition is well worth your time too if you’re normally the kind of person who skips introductions.

One of the most powerful retellings I’ve ever read was Deerskin by Robin McKinley. Deerskin is a retelling of stories such as Bearskin or All-Kinds-of-Fur and deals unflinchingly with the aftermath of rape. It’s a sensitive, gentle retelling, if at times harrowing. McKinley’s style is somewhat hit-or-miss for me, but in Deerskin, certainly, it works a wonder on me. It’s an honest look at the healing process and trauma and seeks to deal with it in a way that I’ve not seen many fairy tale retellings even dare.

As this technically covers eleven books already, I will leave it at this. I have many more books that I utterly love and that I’d recommend without hesitation (if, at times, with content warnings) and I hope that if I’ve inspired you to pick up any of them, that you’ll enjoy them immensely.

This post is sponsored by generous patrons. Thank you so much for your support! It means the world to me! <3 I love you all! If you’ve enjoyed this post and would like to support me in creating more free content, please consider subscribing or spreading the word to others.

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Fairy Tale Favourites

Posted April 22, 2019 by dove-author in Miscellaneous / 0 Comments


Hi, everyone! I hope your week is off to a fantastic start! I know. I know. No one likes Mondays because the week’s off to a new start. But you know what Mondays also mean? It’s time for Monday Musings! Wherein I ramble about various and sundry depending on my whim or Patreon requests/suggestions. Posts are somewhere below 2,500 words at most and consist of short personal essays and discussions.

Fairy Tale Favourites

A few years ago, I wrote a post about my favourite fairy tales. I figured that, with two more fairy tale retellings published and a third in planning stages, it would be a good and fun idea to revisit the topic.

Like many, I grew up on fairy tales. Notably, those that are canonically considered to be Western European fairy tales and the English and Germanic tales in particular. Those are, after all, the tales I know best and they make up the majority of the stories that I grew up with.

Growing I was surrounded by retellings of many of the most well-known fairy tales: Snow White, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, and so on. None of that is particularly surprising. These fairy tales are exceptionally good at what they do and they fit neatly into the Victorian-era recasting fairy tales as something for small children, as nursery and bedtime stories, and their ideals on proper behaviour. The violence in earlier versions of Cinderella is, after all, much easier to pare down than the violence in The Juniper Tree. The visual gruesomeness of Cinderella happens at the end, when the stepsisters cut parts of their own feet and have their eyes plucked out by Cinderella’s feathered friends. None of the violence is integral to the central narrative of Cinderella’s hard work and good heart being rewarded. The visual gruesomeness in The Juniper Tree, however, drives the plot. Without the stepmother in the story cutting off her son’s head, there is no story.

That is not counting all the simply plain weird fairy tales, such as The Mouse, the Bird, and the Sausage or The Louse and the Flea or The Straw, the Coal, and the Bean. And then there are the anti-Semitic fairy tales, and the ones that are barely stories such as A Riddling Tale. That’s not to mention the ones that are like more well-known tales and yet didn’t gain the same popularity, such as All-Kinds-of-Fur. My point is that there are a lot of fairy tales that didn’t – and don’t – get retold as much as the ones we all know, and it isn’t all because of Disney’s influence on fairy tale retellings as a whole.

All of that isn’t to say that these stories never get retold – they do. It’s just that they rarely gain the popularity of retellings of the more well-known tales. One of the most impressive feats about Jim Henson’s The Storyteller is that none of the fairy tales it retells are the ones you might expect. The closest the series gets is Sapsorrow and the meshing of All-Kinds-of-Fur with Cinderella and Donkeyskin works exceptionally well because they’ve all got similar beats.

To me, one of the most fascinating things about fairy tales and their retellings is how much individuality authors can pour into what is, at its core, the same narrative. It’s what draws me to the tales again and again. Though I grew up with a lot of books containing fairy tales and retellings, notably complete collections of all the stories collected by the brothers Grimm and those written by Hans Christian Andersen, most of my favourites all come from Grimm’s collections.

The Juniper Tree is actually one of them. I couldn’t quite explain why. I suspect it’s largely the combination of a story that is exceptionally gruesome and yet has an element of whimsy to it.

I have a big soft spot for Puss-in-Boots as well, though my favourite cat fairy tale was probably Madame d’Aulnoy’s The White Cat. Because it has a cat princess who saves the day for the prince. How was I not going to love that tale?

One of my absolute favourite remains The Two Brothers, largely because of the sheer amount of animal helpers in it. The Two Brothers is a fairly long fairy tale, smushing together several different motifs, but it’s always been the first half that holds my interest. This is the fairy tale that I’ve got bookmarked in my collection to this day.

In the first third of the story, we’re introduced to two identical twins who, because it’s a fairy tale, end up being able to find a gold coin underneath their pillow every night. They get kicked out of their home and taken in by a kindly huntsman, who raises them as his own. Now adults, the two brothers leave. They come across five animals, all of whom they decide not to kill after the creature begs for its life, and they’re both given a young animal in return, which they keep as pets.

In the second third of the story, the two brothers have split up and we mostly follow the younger of the two in his adventures to defeat a dragon and marry a princess. He defeats the dragon, with the help of his animal companions, but a marshal was watching and steals the proof that he’s done so. Or so the marshal thinks! Anyway, a short story made shorter the younger brother marries the princess and becomes a king. One day, he goes out riding and manages to get himself and his animals turned into stone.

Cue the third part of the story which focuses on the older brother. He returns to the village where they parted and discovers something is amiss with his brother and he goes off to discover what happened. He gets mistaken for his brother and, somehow, cannot get out of sleeping in the same bed as the princess. His brother, after being rescued, is really rather upset about it, lops his head off, then regrets it and the animals help him magically restore his brother back to life. They go back home, get recognised for who they are, discover the princess did not sleep with the brother not-her-husband, and happily ever after has been reached!

Trust me, the last part is incredibly unsatisfying to read in its full form as well. The first two thirds are delightful, though, and I’d happily recommend it if you enjoy fairy tales with animal companions. They’re really the star of the whole thing.

Another of my favourites is Brother and Sister, which I did a loose if fairly faithful retelling of in Feather by Feather and Other Stories. Here it’s definitely the sibling relationship that’s done it. I love the wildness of the deer and the love and friendship that remains between the siblings even then.

Some of my favourites are a little more well-known, though. I count The Twelve Dancing Princesses and The Six Swans (or The Twelve Ravens, take your pick) among them as well. In the case of the former, it’s the dancing that always gets me. I love dancing and it’s so integral to the story here. In the latter, it’s, again, the love between siblings as well as the hardship of the way the princess breaks the curse on her brothers. Imagine trying to do what the princess does. (And then remember that she fails. How many fairytales end in failure? I mean, sure, it’s got a happy enough ending and all, but she still didn’t finish that last shirt she was making.)

I also have a soft spot for Fitcher’s Bird. It’s a Bluebeard variant, but here the girl pretty much rescues herself and her sisters. Sure. There are menfolk to do the killing, but she doesn’t go about locking herself up and hoping men’ll show up before the sorcerer breaks down the door and murders her. She goes about rescuing her sisters and sets up a ruse to trick the sorcerer into believing she’s not left his house. I think Fitcher’s Bird was probably one of the first self-rescuing heroines I ever encountered. Again, I mean, sure she gets help, but the vast majority of the story is about her outwitting her sorcerer husband-to-be and succeeding. Mostly by decorating a skull with flowers to pretend she’s watching the sorcerer from afar. It is the gothiest of Bluebeard variants.

There’s also Frau Holle. (You may or may not know it under the name of Mother Hulda.) What I loved about it is… Well, probably much the same as what I loved about most portal fantasy stories, really: the portal. The idea of stepping (or falling) into a completely new world where apples and bread can talk to you. Also where you make it winter in the world you came from by shaking out down covers! Look, I’m not fond of winter, I admit that, but if I could make it winter by raining feathers down onto the world? Sign me up!

I have a massive soft spot for The Goose Girl as well. It takes a lot for me not to want to pick up a retelling of it, or not to like it when I read it. I loved Falada. I also always interpret Falada as a mare rather than a gelding, but there you go. I loved the way the wind obeyed the princess (and only the princess) and the solution the king arrived at to convince the princess to talk about what actually happened. It’s such a fun play with loopholes. Also the geese. They may play only a small role, but I do enjoy their presence.

I also have a deep love for The House in the Woods. Partially it’s because this is one of the stories I recall listening to on audiobooks and I can still hear the soothing cadence of the narrator whenever I think of this tale. Largely it’s because it’s a story about the importance of kindness. While that’s not an uncommon staple of fairy tales in and of itself, in many tales there’s a strong current of “If you are kind to others, others will be kind to you” and it’s not that that strand isn’t here at all, but it’s comparatively muted.

You see, The House in the Woods sees three sisters all stumble across a house in the woods where they ask for shelter. This is agreed to, provided that they cook supper. The eldest two cook supper for themselves and the old man living in the house. The youngest also cares for the animals without being prompted. She wakes up in a palace and learns that the old man was a prince cursed to be an old man until he meets a woman kind to both people and animals. Though, like in the other fairy tales, kindness to animals is rewarded, the animals don’t set out to help her win trials in return. They just go to sleep, fed and contented. It disrupts the general concept set out by more well-known fairy tales that the reason to do good deeds is because others will do good deeds in return.

Lastly, because I have to stop at some point, one of my favourite tales is One-Eye, Two-Eyes, and Three-Eyes. I’m sure it’s the goat. (Are you noticing an animal theme running through my fairy tales? I am.) But it’s also interesting in how it’s the middle daughter who is the heroine. This makes sense if you look at the title, but it’s still a pretty rare occurrence. It’s usually the youngest child or, in a pinch, the eldest. This is also one the few fairy tales I know of where the evil sisters aren’t severely punished for their cruelty. They’re left poor, sure, but the story ends on both of them repenting of how they treated their sister. The sisters don’t get their eyes pecked out or shoes they’re forced to dance in until they die or anything like that. It’s just a small note about people learning that what they did was wrong and showing remorse. To a child that’s been bullied, the idea that those bullies may one day learn to be better people can be a powerful one.

Those are just some of the tales I’ve loved and enjoyed and continue to love to this day.  While I do greatly enjoy the more well-known fairy tales as well, it’s often the lesser-known ones that truly hold my heart.

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Guess the [Noun]!

Posted March 21, 2018 by dove-author in Miscellaneous / 0 Comments


So… I teach English conversation to adults at the moment and… Well, I needed a party game to play for variation and fun diversionary tactics. Certain party games easily lead to a lot of chatter between participants and others… really don’t. 20 Questions, for example, isn’t great if you want to practice vocabulary. One of the participants can only answer yes or no.

But, also, these are adults and, I’ll be honest, a lot of conversation-based games aren’t designed with teaching adults in mind and they either focus on the wrong topics or the level isn’t right or they’re just not enjoyable for them for other reasons. You’d think you could just pick any game and go, but it’s not quite that simple in my (admittedly limited) experience.

Also the really well-documented games all require things that I don’t have, can’t easily reproduce quickly, or don’t offer the level of chattiness that I and my students want.

So I made up my own! And I thought “Why not share it with you all?” because some people may find it fun or useful. I’m sure other people have had this exact idea or had a similar one with (slightly) different rules, but this version I came up with.

Also, it’s the day I celebrate my birthday today, so surprise! I present to you a gift! I can’t gift you any actual cake or anything, so this is the next best thing. 😀 Happy another-year-older, me! 😀 May you all have a lovely year!

Onto the game! (Also, um, I’ve never tried to explain a game before, so I hope it’s all clear.)

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8 Things To Keep In Mind When Boosting And Supporting People

Posted May 11, 2017 by dove-author in Miscellaneous / 0 Comments


One thing that, in my experience, comes up a fair bit when people see aces and aros ask allies to speak up about the issues we face too is the idea that people can’t boost our voices or issues because something else is happening that affects that person directly. This post, however, won’t look at aces and aros specifically. It looks at general ways I’ve found that are important when speaking up about the hurt done to other marginalisations when your own marginalisation is being hurt too.

It is written from an ace perspective on account of the fact that I am ace spec, after all, but I have done my best to keep the tone of this piece neutral-to-positive and general. It’s also, because I spend most of my time on Twitter, going to use Twitter terminology more than anything else, but I think it applies across various platforms. I hope you’ll find it useful, so let’s dive straight in with the first and, in my opinion, most important point!

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A Look at the Covers of 34 Translated Novels

Posted March 4, 2016 by dove-author in Miscellaneous / 0 Comments


As part of the Year of International Reading, I thought it would be a fun exercise to look at the covers for translated novels. Specifically, this post deals with the covers given to books that have been translated into English. I won’t be looking at the imagery, though. I’ll be focusing on the text available on these covers and talking (generally) about those.

YAY! Lynn is actually including pictures in something! The books are taken from a variety of genres to help showcase that the way English publishers handle translated covers tends to be similar. You’ll see similar trends in books translated from English into other languages. I’m focusing on English covers because that’s the language sphere I’m most familiar with, is the most accessible across the world and where I’m seeing conversations about diversity and translated works happening. These trends are, to the best of my knowledge, present and common within the Western cultural areas, but I can’t speak for other areas in the world.

Below the cut lie 117 covers divided over 39 mostly large images. People browsing on phones or browsing with bandwidth restrictions may want to exert caution.

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