Valentino offers an engaging fantasy that draws upon familiar fairy tales and the romantic mix-ups of Shakespeare’s lighter comedies.
Alice and Celia live with their wicked stepmother, Calamita, and spoiled stepsisters, the cruel and greedy twins Tarantula and Anaconda. Fearing that Alice and Celia will ruin her daughters’ chances of finding husbands, Calamita sends the pair into the Enchanted Forest to fetch firewood but makes sure they lose their way among the winding paths. The two girls find their godmother, Mozzarella, a cantankerous old fairy who spends most of her time consulting an opinionated, hotheaded mirror. She soon sends the girls back out into the world to seek their fortunes, but just in case they get separated, she gives them each a magic silver ring that will turn red if either girl gets into serious trouble. What follows is a delightful romp through the enchanted wood and beyond, with the girls traveling along different paths (sketched out in the author’s maps at the beginning of each section). They meet a cast of characters to rival those found in Lewis Carroll’s Wonderland and the forests and woods of the Brothers Grimm. The fast pace, witty dialogue and winding plot keep the story fizzing until the end, and a host of wonders add to the charm—including a fox with a magical napkin that can feed a table of giants, a glass mountain with a city carved into its summit and a cat who rules a kingdom. As in all good fairy tales, the two heroines seek out and find their princes, and after a series of mistaken identities and precarious mishaps, they’re far better off than at the start of their journeys.
A charming, funny and engaging fairy tale that’s sure to delight admirers of the classics.