Today I’m bringing you three mini reviews of retellings. One could argue that they are all literature retellings, though one is almost 3000 years old. Nevertheless, here are the reviews.
The Tea Master and the Detective by Aliette de Bodard
Retelling of Sherlock Holmes
The Tea Master and the Detective is a stand-alone short story set in an alternate universe called Xuya. If the setting takes your fancy there are other stories set in the same universe.
Going in I wasn’t aware that this was in any way a retelling, but anyone with a passing knowledge of Sherlock Holmes will be able to recognise the similarities in the characterisation of Shadow’s Child and Long Chau as Watson and Holmes respectively.
Shadow’s Child is a sentient mindship who was discharged from the military after a traumatic injury, while Long Chau is a mysterious intellectual with a drug addiction. The two team up to solve a series of mysterious deaths in deep space. I found both main characters interesting, and the plot was fascinating. Sadly, I feel that everything was very rushed, so I had trouble engaging with the story.
Unmarriageable by Soniah Kamal
Retelling of Pride and Prejudice
Set in Pakistan during the late 90s, Unmarriageable is a fun retelling of Pride and Prejudice. The story sticks pretty closely to the original, so there are no real surprises in terms of plot, and the writing is very easy to read. The themes of pride, prejudice, social/class differences etc are also carried over from Jane Austen’s original.
I liked the portrayal of Pakistani religions and culture, though how accurate Muslim/Hindu relations were is questionable. The descriptions of things like location, food and dress were very well done and helped transport me.
My only complaint is that I thought the names were a bit on the nose. Here are some examples:
Alysba Binat – Elizabeth Bennett
Qitty – Kitty
Fahad Bingla- Charles Bingley
Valentine Darsee- Fitzwilliam Darcy
Jujeena Darsee- Georgiana Darcy
Jeorgeullah Wickaam- George Wickham
Nisar & Nona Gardenaar- Mr and Mrs Gardiner
Sherry Looclus- Charlotte Lucas
The Cold is in her Bones by Peternelle van Arsdale
Retelling of Medusa myth
The first thing I should make clear is that this is not a retelling. It’s not even a reimagining. It takes some motifs and very general themes and weaves a story of its own.
I admire the message it was trying to convey – encouraging girls to have a voice and show their feelings. But there was absolutely no subtlety. It involved girls basically being told to shut up and not ever show feelings of anger, despite the glaring differences in the treatment between boys and girls. The fear of the girls of this particular village was partially justified because young women often manifested a curse. Nevertheless, girls displaying anger were sent to a prison where they were abused.
The story was a bit convoluted, and I didn’t really enjoy it very much. The writing is very simple and straightforward though, so it was a quick read.