By Nikita Gill
Formats and Prices
This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around September 11, 2018. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.
Traditional fairytales are rife with cliches and gender stereotypes: beautiful, silent princesses; ugly, jealous, and bitter villainesses; girls who need rescuing; and men who take all the glory.
But in this rousing new prose and poetry collection, Nikita Gill gives Once Upon a Time a much-needed modern makeover. Through her gorgeous reimagining of fairytale classics and spellbinding original tales, she dismantles the old-fashioned tropes that have been ingrained in our minds. In this book, gone are the docile women and male saviors. Instead, lines blur between heroes and villains. You will meet fearless princesses, a new kind of wolf lurking in the concrete jungle, and an independent Gretel who can bring down monsters on her own.
Complete with beautifully hand-drawn illustrations by Gill herself, Fierce Fairytales is an empowering collection of poems and stories for a new generation.
A Universal Truth
We all have storms and stories
inside our starmade bodies
that even the night sky cannot hold.
This is why we are on this earth;
to learn how to love and each other,
to learn how to love and hold ourselves.
Once Upon a Time
Once upon a time,
Matter dreamed up an idea.
It was a small hopeful dream
a thought with the wings of the fairy.
But as with all things full of hope
it would be terribly difficult to birth.
Several events needed to come together
in the millisecond of the time it took to build Earth.
It depended on a 1 in 102,685,000 chance of existing.
A 1 in 20,000 chance meeting between two beings.
An ancestral heritage that goes back 4 billion years
all the way to single-celled organisms.
And only then can this idea be so finely crafted
into a gift with actual presence.
Imagine how much the universe must have loved
this thing to make it happen.
Imagine how many stars gave up their hearts
to bring this into fluid motion.
Does it make you curious?
Make you wonder what could be so marvellous?
That idea … it was you.
You are the universe’s fairytale come true.
Once Upon a Time II
But the universe never promised
you this would be easy,
after all, you are the hero here.
And heroes are meant
to be forged golden
from the blaze.
It is up to you to rise again
from the fragmented shards
your foes left of you.
You must lift a sword
with reborn strength and take on
the demons in your ribcage.
You must devastate the chains
every violent person
has brutally placed on you.
And you must show them all
how they were simply
characters in your story.
But you, you are the author
of this spellbinding tale
built of hope and bravery.
Out there may be monsters, my dear.
But in you still lives the dragon
you should always believe in.
For the Cynic
Our current cosmic address
is a small flying piece of rubble
travelling through an endless black void,
by seven other pieces of flying rubble.
All of these pieces harmoniously
rotate around the same giant fireball
without ever crashing into each other,
or hurtling themselves
into said fireball.
And if that isn’t random enough,
out of all those pieces of rubble
ours is the only one that sustains
an environment that gives life
to billions of different life forms,
including a multitude
of flowering plants
and oxygen-giving trees,
a plethora of wildlife,
and eight billion human beings.
that magic does not exist,
that fairytales aren’t real,
that the way people
find each other
at just the right time
at just the right moment
isn’t the most powerful sorcery.
Somewhere Across the Universe, This Intergalactic Fairytale Is Being Told
In the far corner of the Virgo supercluster, a small galaxy called the Milky Way exists, and in one of the further spirals of that galaxy there is said to be a tiny planet called Earth. At a cursory glance, there is nothing seemingly unique about this planet, even though it is simply beautiful, cloaked in calypso blue with an oscillating belt of green. It is, in fact, one of millions like it that live in just this universe.
The extraordinary thing about this planet though, are the beings that exist on it. They have been through war after war. Empires that promised to burn brighter than their resident star, the sun, and disappeared in the blink of an eye. Savage rulers, dictators have destroyed entire portions of it, and yet … they simply refuse to stop existing, it is like they have this treasured thing within them to keep them surviving, and to keep knowing.
Look closer now, oh passer-by, look closer at these beings. They are survivors with a sense of awe and curiosity at everything around them. Sometimes they have lost their way, but this is a thing they never seem to lose, because they are so full of potential.
Promise. This planet may be called Earth, but it should have been called Promise.
If you do not believe this little story, and dismiss it as a silly old wives’ tale, a thing which cannot possibly exist, then I hope you come upon their legendary message. You see, 40 years ago, these beings sent out a message on a space probe that has travelled 20.5 billion kilometres, hoping to meet one of us in space. In it lies a message, the definition of this entire species, and it reads simply:
‘This is a present from a small distant world, a token of our sounds, our science, our images, our music, our thoughts, and our feelings. We are attempting to survive our time so we may live into yours.’
The Voyager is still out there, waiting for someone to come upon it. Maybe that someone is you. Maybe you will remind that species of the greatness that lies in their potential, their promise. Maybe you will be the being that turns that fairytale planet of promise into an intergalactic legend of green and blue.
A Tale of Two Sisters
In the beginning, there was oblivion.
A vastness, and an abyss comprised
of darkness and nothingness
… until there were two sisters.
One was made from the interconnectedness
of all things, a precipice of stories,
a treasury of things gone and things to come.
Her name was Cosmos.
The other was made from the tricorn
of darkness, black magic waiting to be born,
inkwells of feral power and rebel thoughts.
Her name was Chaos.
Before they had floated into the abyss,
as all celestial beings were left to do in the end,
their father told them to be a binary system,
to never ever let go of each other.
He warned them that together they could
build everything, but apart, nothing could exist.
So the two came together and imagined a tapestry
of moving, living stars that inhaled around each other.
They pictured impossible things like planets
that help thousands of different beings
and balls of fire to keep them warm
and whole atmospheres to help them breathe.
And this was how the love of two sisters
wrote the first ever eternal poem into magical
loving existence. A single poem
they christened, ‘The Uni-verse’.
The Fable in Thermodynamics
The first law of thermodynamics states this:
‘energy can neither be created nor destroyed.’
Which is that everything around us is recycled energy:
you, me, your dog, those we love and those we avoid.
Which is to say that the energy that makes us
is as ancient as the beginning of time itself.
Which is to say that our bones could have been
fragmented together from the ashes of the library of Alexandria.
Which is to say our sinews and spine were crafted from the
end of a hundred-year-old oak tree and our smiles a comet.
Which is to say our hearts could be Achilles’ spirit
when he battled at Troy, bringing his enemies down with it.
Which is to say, when we feel like life is overwhelming,
we must remember that we’re just sparks of energy borrowing skin.
That no matter how much this pain feels everlasting,
this is just the temporary fabric we are in.
The Woods Reincarnated
We traded the woods for high-rises,
the wolf became the boy next door,
soft brown eyes and close-lipped smiles
to hide the flash of fangs instead of teeth.
The huntsman became the ‘nice’ man
that happened to live down the street
whose laugh never quite reached his eyes,
and the beaten track gets hazy
between grandmother and beast.
I wonder where the wildest things go
when the devilled copse is no longer there.
When the forest paths
become the backstreets of a city,
where predators learn a sweeter language
accented with false niceties.
The stories where little girls
need to be street-smart to survive
and sometimes they don’t win,
sometimes it’s the wolf that thrives.
What happens to the fairytale
when the woods have been replaced by cities;
and a concrete jungle that comes to life?
Whispers from the Wicked Woods
Where are the stories for the wicked girls,
the ones where they are told perfection is a lie?
Where are the legends fashioned from nuance,
the ones that cause the hero and the villain to blur lines?
Where are the myths for darker things,
the ones of us who were never snow-white pure?
Where are the lessons for naughty children,
the ones who want to be lost in the forest and folklore?
If you’re looking for secrets you will find them here,
these words have been resurrected from old fairytales’ ruins.
This is the place where those stories come to be reborn
and from the wreckage emerge things
more human than humans.
The Miller’s Daughter
The queen addresses her firstborn
after the fall of Rumpelstiltskin:
Maybe magic ends with me
and it will never cross your path
but I want you to remember
that survival is an art.
The world is falsehood
so you rely on your smarts.
Princes fail all the time.
Passion sometimes goes cold.
And princesses on days of fortune
can turn straw into gold.
Kind kings become greedy
and dragons can have soft souls.
Fairies cast the wrong spells,
mermaids can be drowned,
goblins and trolls can be heroes
and giants can fall without a sound,
and even the darkest things can be defeated
once their names are spoken out loud.
Half of Rumpelstiltskin Seeks Redemption
Half of Rumpelstiltskin
speaks to the Miller’s Daughter:
Since tearing myself in two,
the half of me that remains
has been learning how to grow
and craft an apology worthy of you.
I offer no tricks, only regret
for not understanding in my childhood
that guilt is sometimes necessary,
a way to remember good and never forget.
I have heard that excuses make
for bad apologies, so I’ll stop there.
All I want to say is this: I am sorry
but I do not say it for forgiveness’ sake.
There are no asterisks here.
Your feelings are completely valid,
you are under no obligation to pardon me,
I have yet to earn it for putting you through fear.
What I am trying to say is,
I know now that becoming kind
is worth every single exhausting effort
and sometimes it takes a thousand years.
Today, I apologised to someone
I owe an ocean full of amends to.
Tomorrow, I will teach myself
- "If you're not already familiar with Gill, you should be. The British-Indian writer has been called "the voice of the generation"--and with 441,000-and-counting followers on Instagram alone, she just might be."—Bustle
- "Strikingly relatable.... [Nikita Gill is] one of the most celebrated poets of this generation."—Marie Claire
- "Most traditional fairytales suck.... But Nikita Gill's Fierce Fairytales picks apart these old-fashioned tropes and reimagines the classics with a 2018 twist. Because princesses can be fearless, too."—HelloGiggles
- "Nikita's writing seamlessly blends entertaining poetic narratives with highly inspirational messages. Her creativity in transforming classic fairytales makes for an engaging read--especially for women. These poems and stories will leave you feeling empowered and wanting to see more work from this incredibly talented writer."—YourTango
- On Sale
- Sep 11, 2018
- Page Count
- 176 pages
- Hachette Books