Kate Bernheimer,
Horse, Flower, Bird
(Coffee House Press, 2010)

Horse, Flower, Bird contains eight original fairy tales for adults by Kate Bernheimer. Through birds, dolls, flowers and even Star Wars, Bernheimer discusses humanity in artful curves and colors.

These tales are like the hilt of a knife-hidden behind brightness and intent, but revealed when the deed is done. They connect the danger of the future with motivations from the past and give the present a thrill. Above all, they show the hidden edges and fickleness of the things we hold onto. No matter what is lost -- imaginary friends, caretakers or poems -- they leave a story for our minds to cling to, to keep up with who we are in life's shifting sands.

Like older fairy tales, Bernheimer's illustrate the importance of these tales we live, with all their beauty and perils.

Horse, Flower, Bird speaks of people as if there is no normal and of ordinary things as if all their meanings are true. Two sisters playing a game can be as poignant as a woman in a cage. A secret petting zoo can show human depths as deftly as a woman melding her mind to a room in the woods.

This book is short, the tales eager to be read and easy to come back to. Like all true fairy tales, these can haunt, soothe or invite cogitation. When you feel up for a mysterious journey, this is a good book to turn to and a good work to return to. I highly recommend it for lovers of older, darker fairy tales.

[ visit the author's website ]

book review by
Whitney Mallenby

8 September 2012

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