Adelaide’s mother, Katrina, was the finest storyteller in all of Airsbach, a borough in the great city of Cologne, but she left one story untold, that of her daughter, that of Snow White. Snow White was a pet name Adelaide’s mother had given her. It was a name Adelaide hated, until now. Now, she would give anything to hear her mother say it once more.
A rampant fever claimed Adelaide’s mother just like a thousand others in Cologne where the people die without last rites and the dead are dumped in a vast pit outside the city walls. In an effort to save Katrina’s soul, Adelaide’s father obtains a secret funeral for his wife by bribing the parish priest, Father Soren.
Soren commits an unforgivable atrocity, pushing Adelaide toward vengeance. When Adelaide realizes that the corruption in Cologne reaches far beyond Soren, the cost of settling scores quickly escalates. Avenging the mother she lost may cost Adelaide everything she has left: her father, her friends, her first love, and maybe even her life.
Seamlessly weaving historical events and Grimm’s fairy tales into a tale of corruption and devotion, The Fairytale Keeper, leaves the reader wondering where fact ends and fiction begins. The novel paints Medieval Cologne accurately and vividly. The story develops a set of dynamic characters, casting the famous villains, heroes, and damsels of Grimm’s fairy tales into believable medieval lives. Though historically set, The Fairytale Keeper brims with timeless themes of love, loyalty, and the struggle for justice.
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Once upon a time, there was a book with a gorgeous cover called, The Fairytale Keeper, written by Andrea Cefalo. The heroine, Adelaide, mourns the death of her mother, a woman who was an extraordinary storyteller. Katrina's nickname for her daughter was Snow White.
Cefalo weaves the stories of several additional fairytales into her book in a most natural way. Galadriel, Katrina's cousin, was called 'Cinderella' by her stepmother and her two stepsisters before she escaped that house by marrying a count. The Seven Swans tale also makes an appearance.
Corruption is rampant amongst the clergy in this tale. Priests will not give last rites to many of the sick, for fear of catching the fever that is decimating their 'flock'. And without last rites, of course, the souls of the departed are condemned to Hell for eternity. Of course, if you crossed their palm with a little gold, they may perform a burial. I was a little surprised that the body was cremated on a funeral pyre, but I suppose that was to destroy the disease. For some perceived slight, the priest, Soren, kicks over the pyre, which causes Katrina's corpse to fall to the ground while still aflame.
This act sets up a feud between Father Soren and Adelaide's family. Ansel, Adelaide's father, goes back later that night to do the physical act of burial and pretty much the entire neighborhood shows up for a ceremony conducted by another priest is arranged by a friend of the family.
Let's face it. Life is not a fairytale. Birds don't carry ribbons through the air celebrating picture perfect endings to people's stories. There are good things that happen: the kindnesses shown by various neighbors, as well as the growing relationship between Addie and Ivo. There are also less than perfect things: the actions of Father Soren, Addie finding Galadriel and her father in bed together, less than two weeks after her mother's death.
The only time I wasn't totally immersed in 13th century Cologne was when I was muttering 20th & 21st century *ahem* colorful metaphors at the actions of some of the priests and bishops.
The ending seemed a little abrupt, but that was probably because I was enjoying the read so much! I did appreciate the preview of the 2nd book in the series, The Countess' Captive, which I am uber-eager to begin! And there are two other sequels planned for this year and next. WAHOO!
And I read happily ever after.
Besides being the award-winning author of The Fairytale Keeper series, Andrea Cefalo is a self-proclaimed medievalist, hopeless bookworm, and social media junkie. She graduated with honors from Winthrop University in 2007 where she studied Medieval art history and children’s literature. The next three books in The Fairytale Keeper series—The Countess’ Captive, The Baseborn Lady, and The Traitor’s Target—will debut in 2015 and 2016. She resides in Greenville, South Carolina—ever perched before her trusty laptop—with her husband and their two border collies.
For more information please visit Andrea Cefalo’s website. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.
(BTW, I'm Adelaide.)
The Fairytale Keeper
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(Disclosure: I received a print copy of The Fairytale Keeper from the author and publisher via the Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours in exchange for my honest and unbiased opinion.)