Review: Fierce fairytales by Nikita Gill

The first time I heard about Nikita Gill was when a friend read Your soul is a river. She was absolutely amazed by this book, so I intended to read it. It happened to be that I came across Fierce fairytales – Poems and stories to stir your soul first, so this is the first book that I read of the author. Will this book make me want to read more of the author? Find out below!

Book cover

Traditional fairytales are rife with cliches and gender stereotypes: beautiful, silent princesses; ugly, jealous, and bitter villainesses; girls who need rescuing; and men who take all the glory.

But in this rousing new prose and poetry collection, Nikita Gill gives Once Upon a Time a much-needed modern makeover. Through her gorgeous reimagining of fairytale classics and spellbinding original tales, she dismantles the old-fashioned tropes that have been ingrained in our minds. In this book, gone are the docile women and male saviors. Instead, lines blur between heroes and villains. You will meet fearless princesses, a new kind of wolf lurking in the concrete jungle, and an independent Gretel who can bring down monsters on her own.

Complete with beautifully hand-drawn illustrations by Gill herself, Fierce Fairytales is an empowering collection of poems and stories for a new generation.

My first impression

Yasss, this is so cool! Short poems and stories on fairytales, but different. The women are empowered and well… fierce. I love where this is going and which message it sends across. I am sure that people who believe that women only need to be pretty and silent are not going to like this book.

The story

As mentioned above, the book consist of short poems and stories about a variety of fairytales. It breaks with traditional gender roles. What I absolutely loved was the “Ode to the cat caller on the street” in which she responds to a cat caller:

‘I have no regrets for using my words
like they are ammo to keep men like you at bay.
And if anyone asks me why I did it, I will tell them,
‘He was asking for it, did you not see what he was wearing,
he wanted it that way.’

This shows perfectly the stupidity of men saying a girl deserves being catcalled or worse, just because of what she is wearing.

The book doesn’t only write about women’s roles though, it also acknowledges that men are raised a certain way and that they are allowed to have emotions too. It acknowledges both expectations of men and women by society. A main theme in the book is about women standing up for themselves and having more currency than their beauty. The poems and short stories are brilliantly crafted and point out societal problems. The message is not to wait for anyone to come save you, but to save yourself – for you are fierce.

My opinion

I completed this book in just two sittings (it doesn’t have that many pages anyway). Honestly, I just simply LOVE it! Can’t wait to read more of this author. It is a very relevant book and I think it’s very original that fairytales are recreated. I love how Nikita Gill pinpoints societal problems without pointing fingers. To me, she urges everyone to be the best and powerful they can be without waiting to be “saved” by others.

Conclusion of Fierce fairytales – Poems and stories to stir your soul

She breaks with traditional roles by explaining the traditional fairytales in a different and modern way. I absolutely enjoyed the book and I recommend it for anyone interested in empowerment and gender roles. I am definitely going to try out her other books.


Written by Roos Bergers