TALES BY TREES: The Carpenter, Book Review
The Tales by Trees books are a series of illustrated fairy tales for grown-ups. They combine fantasy, nature, wisdom, wonder and folklore into inspiring reading experiences. Each book is a fully self-contained story and does not require familiarity with the other books in the series.
The first book in the series, Tales by Trees: The Carpenter, was published in Finnish in 2014. Tales by Trees: The Knight followed later that year, and Tales by Trees: The Seafarer was first published in 2015. The English editions were published in 2015 (The Carpenter) and 2016 (The Knight and The Seafarer). The fourth book in the series is titled Tales by Trees: The Dutchess. It is scheduled for publication in 2017.
The Carpenter Synopsis :
What sacrifices do we make?
The emperor’s chief master cabinetmaker is given an order to make whatever his own heart most desires. He knows immediately what he needs to build. But the challenge that he faces has serious consequences on his life and the people he loves.
At only 64 pages I found The Carpenter a short but immersive reading experience.
While it was the emotional intensity of the artwork that first attracted me to this title, I will admit I had not expect to be surprised by the storyline itself. I mean really, how many variants on the traditional fables can there be?
I was wrong. The elegant restraint shown in the prose gives the omnipresent narrator’s message such gravitas, and the plot and underlying messaging, something refreshingly new to me.
The tale feels universal, Kuttner developing character clarity without specific time or locational constraints, but modern in its environmental sensibility.
Parallels to the Grimm Brothers’ fairytales are well-deserved, because this tale engages with its audience on a very adult level and is at times very moving. Neither the author or illustrator shy away from darker elements of life – the pain of being misunderstood, and the impact artistic obsession and self-sacrifice can have on those we love.
An intriguing literary and artistic morsel.
PS: I also recommend you check out the Tales by Trees website for some fascinatingly eclectic articles about trees and their related history.
BOOK RATING: The Story 4 / 5 ; The Writing 4 / 5
Genre: Literature, Mystery, Translation
Author Information: Written by Iiro Küttner, a Jussi Award winning screenwriter, playwright and professor of screenwriting at Aalto University. See interview.
llustrated by Ville Tietäväinen, an award-winning illustrator, graphic novelist and visual artist. See interview.
English translation by Owen F. Witesman, working closely with the author.
Tales by Trees: The Knight
How powerful is love?
A young Knight spends his entire life preparing for a battle against the Dragon. The task proves difficult since time passes at a highly accelerated pace in the Dragon’s cave. Ultimately only love can defeat the monster.
Tales by Trees: The Seafarer
Can a dream be killed?
The sea means everything to a Prince who dreams of sailing away. But as his city is surrounded by desert, it has no ships nor are there trees to build any. The Prince decides to trade his crown to three seeds which are said to be from the Great World Tree itself.
Other reviews of The Carpenter : Books from Finland ; One More x+1
* My receiving a copy of The Carpenter from the publisher for review purposes did not impact the expression of my honest opinions in the review above.