Speak Easy

Subterranean. Aug. 2015. 144p. ISBN 9781596067271. $40. FANTASY
Valente (Deathless) reinterprets the classic fairy tale of the 12 dancing princesses by resetting the story in the 1920s and placing the action inside a magical hotel where the party never stops. From the rooftop gardens to the secret basement lair of the Fairy King, the Artemisia Hotel is full of characters and stories and a never-ending flow of forbidden alcohol.
VERDICT Casting infamous flapper Zelda Fitzgerald as the lead (and a pelican as her devoted follower) is just one of several inspired alterations that makes this novella a cut above the usual fairy-tale retellings. The lyrical language will capture a mass audience, though owing to its mature content, this book is best for adult collections only. [Genevieve Valentine's The Girls at the Kingfisher Club also sets this fairy tale in the Roaring 20s.—Ed.]
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