“A precocious child who likes to clamber into nooks and crannies and who tells herself stories.” That’s how the publishers of ‘Far Off Places’ describe the magazine. Issue 1 has just launched. How does their child shape up: prodigy, needs a nanny or straight to the naughty step?
I need to say at the outset that this will be a biased review. It has to be, for the wonderful editors of Far Off Places accepted a short story from me (Grumpy). Modesty forbids that I should say any more about that creation here.
The first thing that strikes the reader about Far Off Places is its dreamy quality. It’s not only the prose and poetry – the design, graphics and illustration combine with the words to create an other-worldly experience. Twenty-seven people – artists and authors – have contributed on the theme of ‘Fairy Tales Retold’ – alternative visions or subversions of the fairy story. And I can tell you, these tales tend towards the disquieting.
Here you will find a Facebook Cinderella, Humpty Dumpty reconstructed as a moral fable, a Snow White who is asleep for a very good reason, the gingerbread house where passive-aggressive shenanigans are in their twilight phase and Rapunzel who, upon getting rather more than she bargained for, cuts not only her hair.
But even where there is no direct reference to a classic tale, there are glimpses of familiar, dark and dangerous places on most leaves. There are surprises too as characters refuse to remain fixed in a traditional role and you will find that in these pages moral ambiguity abounds.
At times the prose and poetry are so simple that they fall from the page like a princess’s tears and at others you will delight in getting lost in their complex paths and rhythms. The very different styles and perspectives combine in this first issue to give birth certainly to a compelling and dangerous infant. I urge you to spend time with it, but please, not with the lights out. There is potent magic here and you will want to take care with this dark, fantastic child.
Far Off Places Issue 1 (Fairy Tales Retold) is available for download for less than the price of a coffee. You will find it here.