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Book Review of The Doomsday Book of Fairy Tales by Emily Brewes

My Rating:

books, reviews, book review, two star review
More than thirty years of being buried in the Underground, there’s a routine that has become second nature.

Emily Brewes attempts to weave a surreal picture of a distinctly different post-apocalyptic world in The Doomsday Book of Fairy Tales. 

Jesse Vanderchuck has survived through the apocalypse of climate change and now lives in the underground tunnel homestead, like so many humans who tried to hide from the inclement weather changes. It’s been a sad existence, where he (or she, this remains unclear) and his sister, Olivia, and mother have eeked out a poor semblance of a life. When his sister disappeared, his mother fell into depression, and her subsequent death was deliverance, in Jesse’s opinion.

It’s been forty years since I’ve seen the ocean.

One day he finds a talking dog, whom he names Doggo, secreting him away in an environment where pets have become necessary meals. When he becomes ill, Jesse decides to leave the Underground and face the world above. Somewhere along the lines, he decides to track down his sister, who always wanted to return to their home and father. 

Progressing through a world that is changed but not uninhabitable, he begins telling tales influenced by his past to pass the time. These brief segues from the arc are pleasant and far more fascinating than the time with Jesse and Doggo. There doesn’t appear to be much of an overall arc, nor a hero’s journey to follow. 

They were fleeing the only home they’d known, pursued by agents of the king.

There is a lack of doom in that those living in the Underground comes across as equivalent to people currently living in slums. Those living above ground might have a bit more to toil with, but this too harkens back to the pioneers’ hardy lifestyle. Jesse’s sickness and possibly impending death mean little to the reader. Jesse, as a character, holds no weight. 

With no one to root for and a lack of worldly doom and distress, The Doomsday Book of Fairy Tales is a poor vehicle for what otherwise would be a wonderful collection of modern fairy tales. 

Many thanks to Emily Brewes, Dundurn Press, and NetGalley for this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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