Books

White as Milk, Red as Blood

A collection of forgotten German fairy tales.

Franz Xaver von Schönwerth, translated by Shelley Tanaka, illustrated by Willow Dawson

In 2009, a trove of lost fairy tales collected by Franz Xaver von Schönwerth — a 19th-century collector of Bavarian folk tales and contemporary of the Brothers Grimm — was unearthed in a municipal archive in Germany. Unlike the Grimms, who polished the stories they collected, adapting to contemporary tastes, von Schönwerth recorded the stories as they were told, plucking them directly from the living, breathing tree of oral storytelling, retaining their darker themes and sometimes shocking violence. Von Schönwerth published a single volume of these tales in his lifetime, but the vast majority languished and were forgotten over the years, effectively frozen in time until their recent rediscovery.

Now, award-winning illustrator Willow Dawson, in collaboration with translator Shelley Tanaka, has brought these long-lost tales unforgettably to life, illuminating with striking woodcut-style illustrations a spectacular collection that will change the way you look at fairy tales forever. Paired with Dawson's arresting artwork, the stories in White as Milk, Red as Blood race with palpable energy through fantasy landscapes darker, bawdier and racier than anything we find in Disney or the Grimms.

Following the tradition of illustrated fairy tale collections, White as Milk, Red as Blood is the very first fully illustrated, full-colour edition of Franz Xaver von Schönwerth's work. It is a timeless tome of enchantment and foreboding: tales — as haunting as they are profound — of powerful princesses, helpless men, lecherous villains, virtuous girls, witches, giants, at least one female serial killer, mer-people, shape-shifters and talking beasts — a kaleidoscope of wonders both familiar and entirely new; rich and strange. (From Knopf Canada)

From the book

One there was a wicked old witch who carried off three princesses. She kept them captive in her cave, where she taught them all about her black arts. The youngest princess in particular was very clever and made exceptional progress.

One day a prince who had lost his way came to the cave seeking shelter for the night. The old woman received him in a friendly way. But the three princesses, who were heavily veiled had been instructed to speak to neither him nor with each other.


From White as Milk, Red as Blood by Franz Xaver von Schönwerth, translated by Shelley Tanaka, illustrated by Willow Dawson ©2018. Published by Knopf Canada.

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