Monday 5 December 2022


Book review: The Complete Fairy Stories of Oscar Wilde [blog tour]

I love a good fairy tale; whether it's a creepy classic (Brothers Grimm, I'm looking at you), a kids-friendly Disney adaptation, a retelling challenging traditional storytelling, or a contemporary take... if there's a story of good versus evil, with some fantastical elements thrown in I'm there for it. Yet, despite Oscar Wilde being one of the most famous writers of all time, I didn't realise he had a collection of fairy tales under his belt. So I'm delighted I had the chance to discover his stories with a brand-new hardback edition published by Duckworth Books. 

This little hardback tome, beautifully illustrated throughout by Philippe Jullian, contains both collections of Oscar Wilde's fairy tales, previously published as The Happy Prince and Other Stories in 1888 and The House of Pomegranates in 1891. There are eight short stories in total, including The Nightingale and the Rose, The Selfish Giant and The Star-Child

The tales range from the whimsical to the bizarre, with everything in between. What was particularly evident throughout is the underlying messages of religion. Sometimes subtle, but mostly not at all. Particularly in The Selfish Giant where a child saviour is described to have prints of nails on his hands and feet. I did not expect these stories to be so heavily infused with religious imagery and it's not something that appeals to me personally. Having said that, of course these are writings of their time, and the afterword by Oscar Wilde's son, Vyvyan Holland, explain's Wilde's upbringing having heavily influenced the direction of his work. 

That said, while the religious undertones and messages of morale were a bit too heavy for my liking (and very dark to boot), I did really appreciate the beautiful writing and incredible imagination these individual tales showed the reader. There's even a story from the perspective of a piece of firework, obscure yet strangely engaging. The rocket in question displays a full range of emotions through the unique perspective written down by Wilde, which is very clever indeed. 

My personal favourite story in the collection is the very first one; The Happy Prince. A beautiful tale of selflessness that really hit me right in all the feels. It was the most memorable story to me, and felt the strongest to still resonate with readers to this day. Another stand-out was The Devoted Friend, a story with characters very obviously personifying wrong and right, and yet the one in the wrong doesn't necessarily get his due in the end or even realise how despicable he really is. It has a frustrating conclusion, but one that will undoubtedly make readers think about friendship, loyalty, and kindness; hopefully teaching them a lesson or two along the way. 

The Complete Fairy Stories of Oscar Wilde is a very interesting collection of tales with a strong sense of morale. If you go in knowing what to expect, and glance over the heavy religious undertones if that's not your cup of tea, then there's plenty to enjoy within its pages. Not all of the fairy tales are equally memorable, but those that are will make a lasting impact.

The Complete Fairy Stories of Oscar Wilde is published by Duckworth Books and you can now buy a copy from your favourite local book shop!

Blog tour stops for The Complete Fairy Stories of Oscar Wilde

This review for The Complete Fairy Stories of Oscar Wilde is a part of the official blog tour for the launch of the book. Make sure to check out the other stops too!

Disclaimer: This book was gifted to me by the publisher, but this has not impacted this honest review.

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