There are some very strange books in this library. Books that have gone mouldy, gone so bad their stories have changed. And here is one. You are expecting Cinderella but you are going to get Zombierella – a tale to make you shiver. Cinderella in her desire to go to the ball with her three Fake sisters slips on the stairs and instead of a Fairy Godmother meets Death. But even Death may grant wishes. So Zombierella (as she now is) does meet her Prince – a Prince who hates sunlight and garlic. The story continues on its gruesome way (definitely not for faint-hearted adults – but fairy tales have never been soft) to yes – a properly happy ending.
Joseph Coelho tells his tale with a relish that will be appreciated by his young audience. There is blood, gore and guts galore as he references the version told by the Brothers Grimm. There is also a teasing sense of jeopardy – what is going to happen to Zombierella, especially as everyone will have realised what the prince is; you guessed, a vampire? However, fairy tales are there to teach – and the happy ending is both satisfying and practical. For such a tale, there should be illustrations to capture both the pleasurable horror and the humour. Freya Hartas black and white illustrations and page decorations do just that. Her lines have an energy and a certain joie-de-vivre that matches Coelho’s blank verse rhythms. There will be more from this partnership. Adults may blench, but less squeamish young readers will thoroughly enjoy this fairytale gone bad.