Full review here. Who told the first fairy tales?
Forsyth's novel represents what I love about historical fiction: it presents something many might have fuzzy familiarity with in a vibrant manner with people who stay in the mind well after the book has ended.
In her opening note, Forsyth reminds (or in my case, educates) the reader as to precisely when the Grimm Brothers collected their stories. Not medieval scholars in musty robes, to paraphrase her, but handsome young men writing in the same era as Austen and Byron. That was eye-opening. Locational awareness secondly was a surprise: the Grimm brothers did their collecting as Germany was facing Napoleon's relentless march toward a unified empire. While never explicitly named in the text, the Grimm brothers were doing a little cultural conservation in the face of French domination.
Forsyth also rather daringly imagines why Dortchen, our heroine, takes so long to end up with the Grimm brother of her choice. It worked for me although was very upsetting -- but it also has a kind of fairy tale-ish grime to it, too -- I kept waiting for magic beans or a fairy godmother to solve things.