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Such tales

Gretel and the Dark

Title: Gretel and the Dark
By: Eliza Granville

The title promises darkness, and if there's one lesson Eliza Granville has learned from Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, it's to always keep a promise. "If you won't forsake me, I won't forsake you."

Krysta's childhood nurse, Greet, had a story for every occasion. While gutting fish one day, she tells Krysta, "Once upon a time, on a farm near Sachsenhausen, lived a man who let his children watch as he slaughtered a pig. Later that day, when the children went off to play, the eldest child took a shiny knife and slit his little brother's throat."

Krysta's father, a physician, interrupts:"Such tales spring from sick imaginations." Josef Breuer, Sigmund Freud's mentor, might well agree. Breuer is a major character in the novel's other storyline, which is set some four decades earlier than Krysta's childhood. Unfortunately for the two doctors, even sicker imaginations have shaped everyday reality, and "such tales" may be one of the few weapons left with which to resist. The symptoms of the diseased human imagination are already quite obvious in Breuer's Vienna of 1899, and even doctors possess no immunity.

"One day a stranger dressed in red and white and black came to Hamelin." As the children of Central Europe "disappear through a magic door in the side of a mountain," a boy and a girl are left behind. Like Hansel and Gretel, the two children desperately seek a way to shove the witch into the oven before they end up there themselves.

As Greet once said, "Stories are fast travelers, always moving on. Oh, yes, stories change with the wind and the tide and the moon. Half the time they're only plaited mist anyway, so they disappear altogether when daylight shines on them." And the other half of the time, there is no daylight, and the stories are all too real.

View similarly tagged posts: fiction

Posted on Feb. 2, 2015 at 3:47 a.m.

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