“The Frog Prince – a tale told in rhyme” free on kindle for 5 days!

Free for 5 days on kindle – offer ends July 18th.

…Once upon a time, in a kingdom far away,
Within the castle grounds, a Princess came to play.
Neither child nor fully grown, a girl of charm and grace,
Upon the brink of womanhood and beautiful of face.

But don’t be fooled by this fair scene, no fairytale is this.
No story of a happy child, who dreams of endless bliss.
The kingdom had succumbed to grief, such darkness dwelt inside,
It spread and grew like twisted vines from which you could not hide…

The Frog Prince is a classic tale now enchantingly retold in narrative rhyme from the author of “Faerytale” (published through Safkhet Publishing). With the darkness of the original Brothers Grimm version, The Frog Prince tells the tale of a lonely Princess who makes a promise to a frog she cannot break. Forced to have him by her side within her father’s dreary castle she soon finds his company not quite as repulsive as she initially thought. But there is more to her slimy companion than meets the eye…

…Looking down the Princess cried and stared in disbelief,
For there he sat, her helpful frog, his eyes were wide with grief.
“Princess mind the pledge you made, all you said you’d do.
Let me eat from your bowl and share your food with you.”

The Princess knew not what to say, he must have come so far!
Beneath a nighttime sky so dark, despite its scattered stars.
“What is this?” the King he asked, for so confused was he,
The Princess told him of her pledge and begged to be set free.

“Of course I won’t you foolish child, your honor must dictate.
You gave your word, a pact was made. It’s really far too late!”
The Princess felt the urge to cry, there really was no choice,
“As you wish”, she replied in such a tiny voice…

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Prince-rhyme-Fairytales-Rhyme-ebook/dp/B0078K4GH8/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1342281962&sr=8-1

“The Frog Prince” is the first in the series. Also available through kindle: The Pied Piper – the 2nd in the series, with more to follow…

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Dancing to the Piper’s Tune…

As previously mentioned in my posts The Frog Prince never ranked that high in my list of favourite fairy tales, growing up. The Pied Piper however was always one of my favourites. The story is sinister, unsettling and tragic and it certainly does not end happily ever after. I’m not trying to suggest I was a creepy, disturbed child who only enjoyed tales of misery and death; I merely liked the tale because it stood out from the rest.

For me, my favourite fairy tales were split into two categories. You had tales such as Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, The Frog Prince and Cinderella. Although still dark and disturbed tales in their own right due to the Brother’s Grimm, they were still essentially romances with ‘Happily Ever Afters’ tagged onto the end. Then you had tales such as The Pied Piper, Little Red Riding Hood, Hansel and Gretel and Rumplestiltskin which did not follow the traditional romantic route and ended in violence and even tragedy. Mix these two types of stories together in a collection, as the Brothers Grimm did, and you have a truly fantastic anthology of enchanting, romantic, disturbing and brutal stories.

Back to the Pied Piper though, one of the most intriguing facts about this fairy tale is that it is based on an actual event in history. In the story Hamelin town is infested with rats. A stranger comes through the town and offers to rid them of their rats for a small fee and they accept. Playing his pipe, the piper lures the rats out of the town and takes them to a river where they drown. However, the town refuses to pay and the piper leaves promising they will regret that decision. Later that night he returns and, like the rats, lures the town’s children away and takes them to the same river where they drown. More sanitized versions have the piper shut them away in a cave until the townspeople paid up. It is quite a dark and hypnotic tale of revenge.

In the 1300s in Hamelin, Germany, it is recorded that the town “lost” their children. There was recorded to be a stained glass window in the church depicting a “pied piper” taking the children away. How they were really lost has never been verified. Some speculated that the children died, the pied piper being a manifestation of death, leading them away from this world. The inclusion of the rats in the tale naturally led to the argument that the children died of the plague. Some have even suggested the children did not die but merely emigrated or were recruited. Whatever happened to the children, their disappearance was referenced in 1384 in the town chronicles which states:

“It is 100 years since our children left.”,

The tale itself is therefore given more substance and depth, being based on a true story.

The story of a strange man luring hundreds of rats from a town through music, then returning for the town’s children to punish the adults for not paying what was owed is truly a haunting premise. What makes it more sinister is the peculiar character of the piper. It is never explained who he is, where he came from or exactly how he could lure animals and people by his music. The ambiguous and haunting nature of the tale just made it all the more fascinating to me and that is why I chose The Pied Piper to be the second in my ‘Fairy Tales in Rhyme’ series on kindle. I wanted to capture that mysterious and evocative atmosphere of the story and give it that hypnotic rhythm that only rhyme can achieve. So for those of you who, like myself, find yourself drawn to piper’s tune, please check it out at http://www.amazon.co.uk/Piper-rhyme-Fairytales-Rhyme-ebook/dp/B007GPYMEC/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1332498255&sr=8-2

….Walking through the empty streets, lit by soft moonlight,

The cobbles shone a silver blue, the houses fringed with white.

And as he walked he played a tune, an eerie, haunting sound,

A ghostly mist like bony fingers crept along the ground.

 

The tune it echoed through the streets, it hung upon the air,

It spread through sewers into houses, up and down their stairs.

The tune caressed every corner within old Hamelin town.

Its melody like flowing water, within which you could drown.

 

When he reached its very edge, the town, in moonlight shone,

Thomas Bard lowered his pipe, but still the tune played on.

Tiny shadows began to move, little dots of black,

Scampered from both house and sewer, though each and every crack.

 

A thousand paws so lightly tapped a soft and rhythmic beat,

They joined together, moved as one as one, a rippling black sheet.

Thomas Bard began to walk towards the distant woods,

He wrapped his cloak around his chest, pulling up its hood….

Kissing the frog…

The Frog Prince wasn’t always one of my favourite fairy tales, in fact it was quite low down on my list. The princess always came across as selfish, childish and a little spoilt. I never understood why the frog wanted her so badly and the overall story lacked sentiment in my opinion. For those of you who are thinking of the Disney versions and modern retellings you would of course disagree with me. But I am referring to the original telling of the story. The Brothers Grimm bought that usual darkness to the tale which I love, but as a “romance” it really falls short. Then again, I believe it was never intended to be told as one. These days, however, the story is often used as a point of reference for romance in general, for women struggling to find love: “You have to kiss a lot of frogs before finding your prince!”

Whilst playing with a golden ball, her favourite toy, the princess drops it into a pond. Incredibly upset, she attracts the attention of a frog who offers to retrieve it for her if she promises to let him stay with her. She makes the promise knowing she has no intention of keeping it and runs away when she has her ball back. The frog follows her to the castle and begs her to keep her vow. Initially she tries to ignore the “disgusting frog” but her father, learning of her promise, forces her to keep it. After a few days of the frog following her around he turns into a prince and they marry. The end. Different versions have it happen in different ways. In some he merely changes, in the Grimm version she throws the frog against the wall in disgust. But the most famous of course is the kiss – leading to the more romantic interpretations.

For me I always assumed the story was about never judging a book by its cover. But I believe that Beauty and the Beast delivered this sentiment far more sympathetically than the Frog Prince. Although initially shocked by the Beast’s appearance and tempestuous character, Belle learns to love him for who he is and would have stayed with him even if he had never reverted back to his human form. In the Frog Prince there is a distinct lack of such sentiment. The princess never really grows to love the prince until he has changed into a far more attractive form. Naturally this is not the case in modern retellings which aim to make the story much more romantic and moralistic like Beauty and the Beast. But with regards to the original tale, The Frog Prince has never “grabbed” me as much as the others in terms of sympathy for the main characters and the moral message that they try to convey.

However, when I started to rewrite it in rhyme I began to appreciate it more. There is an understated darkness and sorrow to the tale which I had never appreciated before. The sadness and desperation of a prince trapped in a frog’s body. A lonely princess who is no stranger to solitude, starved of love and affection, finally finding companionship in the strangest of places. And then it occurred to me. A fervent champion of the Brothers Grimm over Disney, I actually discovered that the tale worked better when the two “types” were mixed together. Separately they do not work for me. The Brothers Grimm version is too unsympathetic and unsentimental. The “Disney-fied”, romantic versions are too idealistic and sugary. But a mixture of the two really works, combining the Grimm’s customary darkness and bittersweet outlook and the romance of the newer and better known versions.

My version of the tale is available on Amazon kindle through Kindle Direct Publishing, and here is a quick snippet from it below:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Prince-rhyme-Fairytales-Rhyme-ebook/dp/B0078K4GH8/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1332159600&sr=8-2

…She threw the ball into the air but on the balls descent,

It bounced right off her fingertips, into the pond it went.

With great dismay she watched it sink into the murky deep,

She could not reach nor even swim, and so began to weep.

 

“Alas! If I could have my ball, there’s nothing I won’t give!

My jewels, my clothes, my very crown – without these I can live.

But not my ball; my mother’s gift, please don’t say it’s lost!

I’d have it back safe in my hands, indeed, at any cost!”

 

By the pond she sat for hours, such bitter tears she cried.

Then with a shriek she jumped in fright: a frog was sat beside!

A slimy hand upon her skirt, with giant eyes he gazed,

Then hopped onto the poor girls lap. She stared at him, amazed…