A Red Raven Reads Review of “Good Tales for Bad Dreams 1-4” by V.M. Sawh
Recently I’ve had the pleasure to read a series of four novellas written by Mr. V.M. Sawh for in exchange for an honest review.
We begin with “Cinders,” a retelling of Cinderella where our protagonist, Rella, must kill the prince to appease her brothel-running caretaker when her feet fit into glass slippers designed for murder. The next tale, “Anastasia,” regards one of Rella’s “stepsisters” from her life on the seas in transition to her life as a prostitute of the Black House. Thirdly, “Hontas” describes a Western-based retelling of Pocahontas, horses and pistols and bounty hunters and all—even romance. Ugh, my heart. Finally, “GR3T3L-1” is a futuristic retelling of Hansel and Gretel with robots fighting to survive and find purpose in a countdown to their imminent demises.
I say this wholly and without falter: Sawh’s writing is nothing short of masterful. It’s brilliant, truly; emotionally impactful and compellingly real. I’ve never read anything like it. To be honest, I was upset when I finished all four novellas… I wanted more. I already can’t wait to read the tales again and to recommend them to everyone I know. The characters are incredible. Even Anastasia, an undeniably cruel character as apparent in “Cinders,” makes her plight realistic and capable of sympathy in her own tale. How do you do that?! The author even makes robot characters complex and dynamic in “GR3T3L-1.” The deftness with which these novellas were executed matches the magic of the original stories (and, of course, the magic of the stories retold).
The only complaint I can muster is that, at times, I felt like there was “too much” of something. Too much sadism, unnecessary grotesqueness, and, while only in the case of the fourth novella, “GR3T3L-1,” too much exposition. None of these would bother me if I found them to be realistic or necessary, but in a few rare cases, I was put off by it. There were a few typographical errors as well but I didn’t care one bit; I was too engulfed by the stories.
These. Stories. Are. So. Damn. Good. I adored every moment and can’t wait for the free time to read them over again. They’re brutal, cutting, graceful, and haunting, but most importantly, they are stunning. They shimmer with mastery and reflect reality. THIS is how to write novellas. Take notes, people. These stories demand to be read and recognized. While “Hontas” was easily my favorite, all four were so incredible. I am thrilled to have these novellas in my kindle library and will forever treasure them.
I am elated to give this series five out of five stars, and it deserves every single one of them.