a review by Nalini Haynes
Metro Winds by Isobelle Carmody is a series of fairy tales for a YA or adult market (not for children), presented as short stories and one novella in one volume. Most of these are original stories with one notable retelling of a classic tale, reimagined in the most creative way I’ve read to date. It’s very difficult to talk about short stories without giving away spoilers so I recommend listening to Isobelle’s author talk and reading for more information: she presents Metro Winds beautifully, better than I, plus – added bonus – she explains why it’s been so hard for her to finish the Obernewtyn Chronicles.
Many of Isobelle’s fairy tales are in two or three acts: the introduction where the background is established and the reader meets key characters, a transition that is sometimes a transition point and at others an act in itself, and the finale where some kind of conclusion is wrought to the plot and/or the character/s. Sometimes this feels like a launching pad for the reader to dream their own sequel, a feature of storytelling too often replaced with i’s dotted, t’s crossed and no room for further flights of imagination.
Isobelle’s prose is enchanting; I also enjoy her perspectives of social issues, characters and life. I particularly enjoyed Isobelle’s comments on beauty scattered through some of the stories. ’The strange blandness of extreme beauty’ describes how I see the faces of supermodels like Elle McPherson; I felt a real connection with Isobelle’s world-view at that point. She went on, ‘What most people called beauty was so often really just youth and the health that naturally went with it, combined with regular features. That was why all gorgeous people looked more alike than ordinary people.’ YES. THIS. Shortly before my son left home, we sat down to watch a movie together that he really wanted to watch. Even on our 45″ TV I became really confused about who was who because so many of the actors looked alike that I couldn’t follow the movie at all. Isobelle’s perspective on beauty really connected with something in the core of who I am, where I believed that it was just my disability that made me a freak in my perception and appreciation of beauty. Words cannot express the significance to me of Isobelle’s comments in the narrative on beauty.
My only reservation was one of the later stories with a male protagonist, which somewhat repulsed me, but others will rave about it.
I thoroughly enjoyed Metro Winds even though I’m usually dissatisfied with the brevity of short stories. Highly recommended. Ideal for short commutes or leaving on the coffee table, to read short stories while having breaks.