By: Harsh Y. Thakar
Do you have a favorite fairy tale? One that stands out for you and still swirls around in your mind even today? Many of us grew up listening to a wide assortment of fairy tales and inevitably picked out our personal favorites. One particular tale which stands out for me personally is Rumplestiltskin. The idea of a beautiful maiden being helped by an imp-like creature to spin straw into gold is somehow intriguing! Also, part of what makes this fairy tale so memorable is the malevolent overtones and scary suggestions it contains. There is an undeniable evil within the tale which really never comes to full fruition. However, in his short story Ablaze, author Harsh Y. Thakar takes such malevolency to a whole new level. For those who are interested in a new and nefarious take on Grimm’s traditional tale Rumplestiltskin, this story could be worth a read.
Ablaze is basically a unique retelling of Rumplestiltskin. In the original tale a Miller falsely boasts to the King of the land that his beautiful daughter is so special that she can even spin straw into gold. Upon hearing this the King calls the Miller’s bluff and confines the daughter to a chamber with explicit orders to start spinning straw into gold…or forfeit her life. Unable to actually do what her father has boasted, the Miller’s daughter falls into a state of despair. However, to her surprise she is visited by a miniature imp who agrees to spin the straw into gold if she rewards him. This she promptly does by giving him her necklace. After the imp has spun the straw into fold, the greedy king wants more and more. When the girl has run out of trinkets to reward the imp with she ends up offering him her first born child. When it comes time to pay the imp back for his help, the girl (who is now Queen), begs to be released from the arrangement. The imp agrees to this only if she can guess his name… which with some help she eventually does. The imp, otherwise known as Rumplestiltskin, then splits into two and disappears. Undoubtedly, all of that may be a little bit much to take in. However, in his short story Ablaze, Harsh Y. Thakar takes these same ideas but adds a much more sinister twist to it all.
While the plot of Ablaze is very dependent upon the original tale for direction, it is still unique enough to stand on its own. In fact, it has some very clever and compelling slants and spins to the original. These just so happen to be quite twisted and have the potential to draw the reader in. However, they are really never explored to their full potential. So little information is actually given about the main idea, characters or even the setting that it comes across as largely unfulfilling. We are never able to glean enough interest to get truly engaged in the story. That is a shame really as these concepts are sound and could have been transformed into a magnificent tale. The author clearly has an imaginative mind. Nevertheless, by not exploring it all in more depth it just comes across as an alternative ending to a popular fairy tale.
In my reviews I typically take some time to talk about character development and world building in addition to the plot. Unfortunately, these were not developed, explored or explained in any type of meaningful depth. In addition, the story sorely needed to be professionally edited for these factors, as well as common writing structure and mechanics. The potential is here…but is just not unrealized.
2.5 out of 5 Rumply Stars for this one! **