I will never read Snow White the same way ever again.
Wednesday night, I was traveling the Realms of Twitter, and stumbled upon the account of one Rebecca Knight. She writes fantasy. I write fantasy. Of course I looked at her blog. She had two free short stories about a fairy tale assassin. Ten minutes I downloaded them from Amazon and got blown away. They’re fast-paced, entertaining, and definitely NOT for everyone.
Victoria Grim is the last person I’d want to cross. Even before she faces an armed man, and kicks his throat with her steel-tipped boots, you know she’s not to be messed with. Ripley from Alien has nothing on this bad girl.
She works cases for an unnamed agency. “Blood Don’t Lie” watches her assassinate a very modern and very nasty Bluebeard. “Heartless” covers her attempt to bring Snow White (a runway and a porn star) back to her stepmother.
You did not misread that. This fairy tale casts Snow White as a porn star.
Knight pulls it off- and with style. I wish she had added a little bit more detail with settings, just a few words here and there. No such problems with the dialogue. It is harsh, it is snappy, and it is alive. Victoria is a hard-edged heroine, and one who is convincingly brought to life.
The plot is swift and exciting. With her modernized, seedy new fairy tale world, Knight lends intensity and urgency to fairy tales. “Heartless” in particular has a passage that left me breathless with terror.
Speaking of which, these stories are R-rated. If you’re queasy, keep a wide berth. Victoria lays some vicious punishment on her enemies. Her enemies lay some vicious punishment on her. There’s swearing, booze, naked people and groping.
Knight does a good job at handling all that. She doesn’t pound you over the head with it. Her most gripping scenes don’t tell much, but what they do tell made me cringe. I did find the climax of “Heartless” to be too drawn-out. There’s a fight that goes on for a while. It’s well-told, but it’s too long.
Which is ironic, because my biggest complaint is that the stories aren’t long enough. I wanted to see Victoria do some more detective work, and some more dialogue. “Heartless”, in particular, could be a great novella. The plot goes by like a whirlwind. There’s enough of that plot to allow more time for it to unfold, and have some breathing room. It’s a pity Knight didn’t let that happen.
I won’t complain too much, though. Clearly, this is meant to be an introduction to Victoria Grim. And what an introduction it is. It is no masterpiece; don’t read it for deep thoughts. Read it for a dark, bone-crunching action caper. And join me in demanding a full-length novel. Nay, a series of novels. I want more Victoria Grim!