Saturday, August 1, 2015

BLOG TOUR: The Contrary Tale of the Butterfly Girl (The Peculiar Adventures of John Loveheart, Esq. Volume Two) by Ishbelle Bee - Guest Post

Hello! We're really excited today to be hosting Ishbelle Bee, who took the time to stop by and talk to us about classic fairy tales, as a part of the blog tour for her upcoming book, The Contrary Tale of the Butterfly Girl. Her book will be out tomorrow in the US & Canada and Thursday in the UK from Angry Robot, and we can't wait to read it! Plus, the cover is gorgeous and matches perfectly with the cover from The Singular and Extraordinary Tale of Mirror and Goliath, and we can't wait to have it in on our shelves!

Also, be sure to check out the interview we did with Ishbelle last time, for Mirror and Goliath!

About the Book

Title: The Contrary Tale of the Butterfly Girl (The Peculiar Adventures of John Loveheart, Esq. Volume Two)
Author: Ishbelle Bee
Publication Dates: August 4, 2015 (US/CAN), 6 August 2015 (UK)
Genre: Fantasy

Synopsis: A dark and twisted Victorian melodrama, like Alice in Wonderland goes to Hell, from the author of The Singular & Extraordinary Tale of Mirror & Goliath.

Two orphans, Pedrock and Boo Boo, are sent to live in the sinister village of Darkwound. There they meet and befriend the magical and dangerous Mr Loveheart and his neighbour, Professor Hummingbird, a recluse who collects rare butterflies. Little do they know that Professor Hummingbird has attracted the wrath of a demon named Mr Angelcakes.

One night, Mr Angelcakes visits Boo Boo and carves a butterfly onto her back. Boo Boo starts to metamorphose into a butterfly/human hybrid, and is kidnapped by Professor Hummingbird. When Mr Loveheart attempts to rescue her with the aid of Detective White and Constable Walnut, they too are turned into butterflies.

Caught between Professor Hummingbird and the demon Angelcakes, Loveheart finds himself entangled in a web much wider and darker than he could have imagined, and a plot that leads him right to the Prime Minister and even Queen Victoria herself …

UK Print & Ebook

North American Print & Ebook

Global DRM-Free Epub & Mobi Ebook
On-sale 4th August 2015 from the Robot Trading Company

About the Author

Ishbelle Bee writes horror and loves fairy-tales, the Victorian period (especially top hats!) and cake tents at village fêtes (she believes serial killers usually opt for the Victoria Sponge).

She currently lives in Edinburgh. She doesn’t own a rescue cat, but if she did his name would be Mr Pickles.

@IshbelleBee on Twitter

How my favourite classic fairy tales impacted my books

by Ishbelle Bee

Illustration by Gustave Dore

My favourite fairy tale is BLUEBEARD but I am inspired by elements of all fairy tales, especially in their uses of metamorphoses and symbolism.
BLUEBEARD appeals to me because it explores forbidden rooms, locked doors and temptation. It’s a lure that entices characters to move into secret enclosed spaces; spaces with are exotic- that are horror rooms.
Bluebeard’s wives are often put on display dangling by their necks or with their heads on pedestals. Mr Loveheart also has an obsession with chopping off heads and is fond of dangling his from trees in his garden or occasionally placing them by a vase in the hall.   The house of Bluebeard is exotic and rich- Mr Loveheart too has a beautiful ancestral home stuffed full of strange and priceless artefacts. The similarities between Bluebeard and Loveheart are notable: the main difference, however is paramount- Loveheart is more than capable of love and being loveable.
Fairy tales are landscapes of the macabre, with sadistic and grotesque players.  My books are set in a strange alternate Victorian London with a cast of eccentric and colourful characters who all echo fairy tale roles to some extent. Fairy tales evoke awe and wonder, metamorphoses and magical transformations.
Marina Warner (acclaimed historian and writer) believes fairy tales ‘remake the world in the image of desire, ’and identifies this as their essence. We can link this idea to the wish fulfilments of masochistic and sadomasochistic fantasies in BLUEBEARD and we are witness to physical, sexual, material, spiritual, and psychic destruction within a masculine landscape of the perverse. In Cinderella the ‘pure’ female or ‘good woman’ is pursued by an aggressive collection of grotesque characters, with sinister motivations, resulting in the stripping of her wealth and status before her final resurgence. In Red Riding Hood there is alienation from her family and the sanctuary of the home and sexual abuse at the hands of a predator. The fairy-tale is a portal for transformation, and reflects what we wish or fear to become. They are provocative and occasionally dystopian, with motifs of brutality and sadomasochism, which have sadly subsequently been sanitized.


Fairy tales due to their dark folklore origins and storylines that explore incest, patricide, infanticide and cannibalism have sadly been sanitized, domesticated and simplified by (to name a few) the Brothers Grimm, Nazi propaganda to recruit children into the Third Reich, and Walt Disney.

Even with new adaptions of fairy tales with ‘modern twists,’ the tales remain mostly ‘clean’ and ‘fun for all the family.’ The problem lies in this need to make them family friendly texts. Originally fairy tales were not meant to promote a ‘healthy and fun family experience’ as they often depict poor parentage, child abuse, families divided and bartering one another for power, food or sex. The tales reveal Ogre parents chopping up their children to eat when starving; fathers intent on marrying their daughters, skin wearing, and serial killings of women.

To add insult to injury in the case of Disney, not only are the tales ‘washed clean of the inappropriate,’ they make them into musicals and have characters break into song. To quote one of my own characters on his opinions of musicals-

“HAND ME MY GUN. I would rather take a bullet to the brain than submit myself to this LUNACY!” (Rufus Hazard)

The Disney adaptions lack any understanding of the origins of the tales, creating a disinfected product with singing automatons. Underlying their glossy façade, a sinister archaic and patriarchal world exists.

Despite the sanitized versions there are some wonderful modern retellings of fairy tales; especially those of Angela Carter and Margaret Atwood, both of whom approach the subject matter with great intelligence and originality.  These are two qualities often lacking in the modern regurgitated fairy tale.

Disney domesticates the fairy-tale, removes its pagan origins, and reduces it to something infantile and vacuous. 

Thanks so much to Ishbelle for taking the time to talk to us about fairy tales, and thanks to you for stopping by to check out The Contrary Tale of the Butterfly Girl!

--Ashley & Paul

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