The Doomsday Book of Fairy Tales
- Author: Emily Brewes
- Genre: Science Fiction
- Publication Date: June 8, 2021
- Publisher: Dundurn Press
Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this book. I am providing my honest opinion voluntarily.
CONTENT WARNING: death of a parent, gore, death, death of an animal, suicide
An astounding tale of a dangerous quest, a talking dog, and fragmented fairy tales in an eerie post-climate collapse future.
A long time ago, the Vanderchucks fled the growing climate disaster and followed their neighbours into the Underground. Jesse Vanderchuck thought it was the end. Of the world. Of life. Eventually, Jesse’s little sister, Olivia, ran away and Jesse started picking through trash heaps in Toronto’s abandoned subway tunnels. Day in, day out.
Now, years later, Jesse meets a talking dog. Fighting illness and the hostile world aboveground, Jesse and Doggo embark on a fool’s errand to find Olivia — or die trying. Along the way, Jesse spins a series of fairy tales from threads of memories, weaving together the past, present, and future into stories of brave girls, of cunning lads, of love in the face of wickedness, and of hope in the midst of despair.
I was definitely intrigued by the combination of a dangerous quest, a TALKING DOG, and the prospect of fairy tales combined with a dystopian story. However, the premise didn’t quite deliver as promised.
Jesse lives in a post-apocalyptic world caused by climate change. The world has been decimated by extreme weather conditions and new diseases, and this hit home … hard, after the events of the last few years. Within the first few pages, it had me wondering if we’d be living in abandoned subway tunnels in the not-so-distant future.
But that was about as deep as my thoughts went while reading this book. The characters are difficult to connect with, since there isn’t much personality to them. I loved Doggo, who is basically your average dog, given the ability to speak. He just kind of focuses on food and belly rubs. Jesse just kind of goes about his day, doing what is expected of him, and not having any desire for anything else. Until one day, he decides he wants to go find his sister. I’m not sure why he waited an incredibly long time after she booked it (35 years), especially since it was decades since he actually had any ties to anyone or anything in the underground.
Along the journey, there are snippets of these strange fairy tales interspersed with the main story. But I didn’t really understand why — they didn’t seem to have any bearing on the story. Maybe it was signifying that Jesse was slowly losing touch with reality? Along with the presence of a talking dog? I did like the fairy tales themselves, especially since they weren’t the typical and familiar ones that I’ve heard of in the past.
The story was a fast and fairly enjoyable read, but it just didn’t feel as satisfying as I had hoped. There weren’t really great moments of action, there weren’t a lot of plot twists, and there wasn’t a lot of resolution or closure. I found myself unable to put down the book as I got close to the end, hoping to find out for sure what happened … only to discover that I wasn’t going to get that kind of ending. And the only thing that was going to stick with me about this book is an even larger sense of concern about climate change, and a greater sense of dislike of wild rats.
People who have sat around with me while I’m reading, especially when there’s a surprising reveal, a shocking plot twist, or an unexpected event often look up in alarm when I gasp audibly. The gasp factor is directly related to the number of times I audibly gasp during a reading, and there isn’t an upper limit.
Gasp Factor: 3
Categories: Book Review