Hello readers! Today I have a 3.5* book review for you, of Steve Berman's Red Caps- a fantastic book of short stories, which are modern fairytales and feature interesting, complex and beautifully created LGBTQ+ characters. As you may know, I am a HUGE fan of short story collections and fairy tales, so I was stoked to be sent a copy of Red Caps! I was kindly sent Red Caps by the author in exchange for an honest review :)
Intrigued? Here's the blurb...
Red Caps might be a rock band. Or they might be something more sinister, a fey source of sounds that are but the backdrop to thrills and misadventures. These thirteen stories provide readers jaded by the traditional, Old World fairy tales with tempting new stories that will entice bored readers from their suburban ennui. Closets are waiting to be explored. Escape from work camp leads to a dangerous encounter on a wet road. That high school year book is magical and might be mocking you...or helping you find love. And isn't love one of the central premises of the fairy tale? These teenage boys and girls need not fear that their love has no worth, because Steve Berman has written for them princesses who love maidens and adorkable students who have wondrous and smart boyfriends. Readers can be assured that, if the tale does not end happily, it ends most memorably.
As the book was an American edition, I LOVED the size of the book and the wonderfully floppy pages. Luckily enough for me, the inside of the book was just as beautiful as the outside. From the first page, I fell in love with Berman's writing and the way he created such fantastic scenes and characters. Unusually for a YA book, Berman's short stories featured such an amazingly diverse range of characters- different sexual orientations, races, religions and genders. This was so refreshing as I'm so used to reading about straight, white people in YA- and Red Caps completely contravened this.
I absolutely loved ALL of the characters, and for a change they also appeared like young adults- not too young, not too old. It appeared as if Berman really understood young people, and wanted to treat their feelings, lives and experiences with respect. All of the stories had weight and meaning, and also there was always the little twist of magic and supernaturalism (as they were fairytales) in between. In each story, Berman grapples with contemporary issues, and what it's like to grow up in a world that is not always accepting of each individual. The result is a fantastic set of YA short stories, that are better than the 'old fairy tales' in the sense that they make 'being different' that much more exciting.
To be perfectly honest, I enjoyed some stories more than others, and that is why I gave this book 3.5 stars. Although I recognised that this was a book of modern fairytales, I actually preferred the stories with limited supernaturalism. That might be because I prefer contemporary to fantasy any day, but I also found it easier to connect to the story and the characters, when the story was like your average contemporary YA. However, I did finish every story, and I came away at the end of the book having thoroughly enjoyed the collection as a whole :) Also, can I just point out that this book has ILLUSTRATIONS?! Gorgeous ones at that. I really wish YA as a genre included more illustrations, because the illustrations in Red Caps really brought this book to life.
I would highly recommend Steve Berman's Red Caps if you love fairytales, if you want to get into reading short stories, or if you fancy reading something a bit different, with characters you are sure to adore.
Buy Red Caps: New Fairy Tales for Out of the Ordinary Readers here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Red-Caps-Fairy-Ordinary-Readers/dp/1590212827
Check out Steve Berman here: http://www.steveberman.com
Until next time :)