Goodreads: The Cleaners
Series: Faraway Collection (Amazon Original)
Age Category: Adult
Source: Free with Prime trial
Published: December 15, 2020
The reviled villainesses of Snow White, Cinderella, and Rapunzel team up to set the record straight in a subversively funny short story by the #1 New York Times bestselling author of If I Stay.
Envious queen? Evil stepmother? Kidnapping hag? Elsinora, Gwendolyn, and Marguerite are through with warts-and-all tabloids, ugly lies, and the three ungrateful brats who pitted them against each other and the world. But maybe there’s more to the stories than even the Wickeds know. Is it time to finally get revenge? After all, they’re due for a happily-enough-ever-after. Even if they have to write it themselves.
One of 5 Amazon-exclusive short fairy tale retellings from beloved authors, The Wickeds is the only one in the collection I really felt was worth reading. (You can read my review of The Cleaners by Ken Liu here.) To start, The Wickeds is a bit longer than some of the authors, giving a little more time for character development; it also has an interesting premise– trying to make readers wonder if the wicked stepmothers of classic fairy tales might have been misunderstood or even sabotaged (Who made the magic mirror say mean things anyway?). Did they really behave badly? If they did, perhaps their position was understandable?
Now, I don’t think the story succeeds 100% at making the evil characters sympathetic. Many of them did, in fact, actually do things that were pretty horrible! But it was fun following them on their journey to unravel exactly how things played out in the lives, what parts were under their control and what parts weren’t, and which people were actually cruel to them but got away with having a clean reputation.
As with The Cleaners, I’m also not convinced the story is distinctly YA. After all, it follows a bunch of characters who must be in their fifties, and one of the defining characters of YA is that the story has a teen protagonist; however, there’s a lot of crossover appeal here. I see no reason why a YA reader wouldn’t enjoy it.
So, this is fun. It doesn’t quite hit the mark with its message because things aren’t neatly separated into boxes of, “This person was nice and never did something cruel” and “This person was mean for no reason,” but it gives the reader a lot to think about, and the execution of the idea feels pretty original. I do hate that the book fell into the trap where an author seems to believe that a good short story has an ambiguous ending, though.
8 thoughts on “The Wickeds by Gayle Forman”
Very interesting premise! And yes, it doesn’t sound particularly YA, even if there is crossover appeal. I don’t know why they don’t just call these stories fantasy and let teens choose whether to read them? Either way, it does sound interesting and worth reading!
Yeah, I really think people confused “authors known for their YA books” and “stories that are YA” here. The one by Nic Stone, Hazel & Gray, was definitely the most YA, although even then I’d say mature YA for the themes.
What a delightful idea! This sounds fun. I didn’t know Amazon was doing original bookish stuff.
I remember these being kind of a big deal because people were somewhat disgruntled they might not have access to them as Amazon originals, and they wanted access because such big names are associated with this little series! And obviously libraries have no way of procuring these for patrons. After having read 4 out of 5 of the stories, however, I don’t think people are missing much here.
This sounds really fun but I own a kobo so I guess I’m out haha
You can get the Kindle app on a laptop or phone free, but I am not sure if you need Amazon Prime or not to read it.
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Gayle Forman was my all-time favourite author back in 2016 and my reading tastes have changed so I haven’t followed her as I used to so thank you for this review and for putting this book on my radar 🥰
Yeah, I read If I Stay and Where She Went and honestly haven’t thought much about her since, even though I’m vaguely aware she’s been publishing things!