Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Review: Serendipity Market by Penny Blubaugh

Found via: Kirkus Best YA of 2009

A month and a half into 2010 and I'm still catching up on 2009 titles. I blame my library for taking ages and ages to get new books in (and then arbitrarily deciding when I can and can't request paperbacks for interlibrary loans!). Keep your fingers crossed that I do well on that interview on Thursday so I can buy more books (and more bookshelves to hold them!)

Serendipity Market is more of a short story collection than a novel, though the stories are all told in order to support the novel's "plot." When Mama Inez notices that the spin of the Earth is off-kilter, she issues magical invitations to eleven guests who meet her at the Serendipity Market in order to tell their stories and set the world right again.

That's really the whole plot, and characters like Mama Inez don't get developed they way they would in a traditional novel. But the stories are just delightful enough to make up for this. Each story is a twist on an old fairy tale or nursery rhyme - "Cinderella" told by the lizard who is transformed into one of her coachmen, a Pecos Bill tall tale told by Sluefoot Sue, and "The Princess and the Pea" told by the prince (who isn't really looking for a princess) are just a few of the stories. I found myself skipping over the little bits of framing that surrounded the stories, because it just felt like it came out of nowhere - there's no explanation for why the Earth is off balance, why Mama Inez can detect it, or why the stories will set everything right again. I was much more interested in the stories themselves, and I think other fans of re-told fairy tales will like these short vignettes as well. They aren't quite re-imagined stories, as most of the major details are the same; rather the stories are just told from a different point of view, like the elves in "The Shoemaker and the Elves" telling the story of how they helped the shoemaker in exchange for a roof over their heads after they are separated from their family.

This is a quick read, and a nice light addition after reading some heavier-hitting books.

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