Monday, February 23, 2015

Book Review/Giveaway: The Fairytale Keeper by Andrea Cefalo

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


Click the logo above to follow the rest of the tour, which includes more reviews, and a guest post by Ms Cefalo!  You can apply to become a reviewer for HFVBT while you are there as well!

(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.)


  1. I must tell my daughter about this book, LuAnn! Her favorite show is Once Upon A Time. She loves fairy tales, especially the darker side of them. This looks right up her alley. Thanks for the giveaway! I would love to win this for her, although I would keep the gift card for myself :).

    1. I've just finished the sequel, The Countess' Captive, which is just as dark, if not moreso! Let me know if she might like to review them, I can put her in touch with some folks!

  2. This sounds like a great read! BTW, I'm an Adelaide, too!

  3. Oh my, what a beautiful cover! I also love the show Once Upon A Time, and I feel like this might have some similarities.

  4. Lol Snap! I too love Once Upon A Time and had exactly the same thoughts about checking out the book!

    Found you from my blog and as a fellow A to Z blogger had to come have a peek!

    Curling Stones for Lego People

  5. These are my favorite types of book's. I am a big fan of Once Upon A Time so this is great!

  6. My daughter is going to go nuts over this! Nice cover!

  7. I'm keeping this one in mind for Carl's Once Upon a time reading challenge! Thanks!

  8. I'm keeping this in mind for Carl's Once Upon a Time reading challenge!