Fairy tales were, in a word, horrible.
Two hundred years ago, in Germany, the Brothers Grimm first wrote down that version of Cinderella in which the stepsisters slice off pieces of their feet and get their eyes pecked out. In England, a man names Joseph Jacobs collected tales like Jack the Giant Killer, which is about a boy named Jack who goes around murdering giants in the most gruesome and grotesque ways imaginable. And there was this guy called Hans Christian Andersen, who lived in Denmark and wrote fairy tales filled with sadness and humiliation and loneliness. Even Mother Goose’s rhymes could get pretty dark—after all, Jack and Jill go up a hill, and then Jack falls down and breaks his head open.
Yes, fairy tales were horrible. In the original sense of the word.
But even these horrible fairy tales and nursery rhymes aren’t true. They’re just stories. Right?
Copyright © 2013 by Adam Gidwitz. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.