Review by Wambui Hardcastle
Made up of thirteen short stories, Tangleweed and Brine is perfect if you want to read a little something before you pop off to bed – but I warn you, you might end up reading more than one, and you might even miss your alarm in the morning.
What I found particularly interesting about the collection was the fact that the stories are all written in the second person, so essentially, it’s as if you are the female protagonist in each tale. All of the characters share the same distinct voice and, when reading the book, I found myself feeling as if – strangely enough – I was being reincarnated every time I started a new story.
Something that everyone should know when thinking of reading Tangleweed and Brine, is that it isn’t just a regurgitation of your favourite fairy-tale; rather, the tales are told in slightly different ways. At first, I was frustrated by this, as for some reason I wanted the stories to resemble more closely the ones I knew so well, but then I quickly came to adore Sullivan’s versions of events. She really opened my mind about what could have happened instead.
When reading Tangleweed and Brine, you can really tell that Sullivan is a logophile. I don’t mean the words she uses are long and complicated, but rather that there is a sort of feeling when reading that she likes to play with her words and revel in them. Her writing reads more like poetry than prose at times, which is intriguing to say the least. Sometimes, I would find myself having to read a story twice to understand it properly because of this, but eventually, I got into the rhythm of the book.
While, technically, I am reviewing Sullivan’s writing, I wouldn’t be able to forgive myself if I didn’t sing the praises of the illustrator even a little bit. Karen Vaughan – the illustrator – has created some absolutely beautiful pieces of art that accompany the stories. The detail in the artwork is remarkable and I loved the use of black-and-white.
I would recommend this book to anyone who loves fairy-tales and to anyone has that desperate urge inside to be free and independent. I resonated strongly with the protagonists’ hope and determination to be their own person, and I seemed to learn more about myself with every story I wrote. I would even go as far as saying that Sullivan has slightly altered my outlook on life for the better as well.