Book reviews · Books (general)

“Through the Water Curtain (& other tales from around the world)” selected and introduced by Cornelia Funke (review)

International bestselling children’s author Cornelia Funke has always been fascinated by fairy tales; they have often crept into her own storytelling. In this enchanting anthology, Funke presents lesser-known stories that challenge the traditional ‘happily-ever-after’ alongside more familiar tales. From her native Germany, to snowy Siberia, from Japan to Vietnam, this collection includes wondrous tales from around the world, ‘The Girl Who Gave a Knight a Kiss out of Necessity’, ‘The Frog Princess’ ‘The Boy Who Drew Cats’ and many more besides to delight readers of all ages.

I was so happy to be sent a copy of this by Pushkin Press for review.

Firstly, it’s such a beautiful book. It has a lovely cover with gold foil and would make a really lovely Christmas present (you can thank me later 😉.)

The stories are filled with mystery and magic. They have an underlying serious message which could be interpreted in many different ways. There are some really beautiful stories- a couple that I didn’t enjoy as they were a bit darker, however this illustrated a wide mix of themes and also settings- from a mine in Siberia to a king’s palace in Florence.

One of my favourites is the story of a woman who married a man who also had a twin brother that fell in love with her. There wasn’t the usual betrayal of most stories but a tale of loyalty and devotion that although sad, was very emotional and precious.

The story “Through the Water Curtain” is also a favourite. A monk comes along and abandons his way of life to stay in a particular village and then helps to overturn ‘the gods’ of that place that have held the people to ransom for so long. He brings peace and prosperity to the village.

I loved the way the tales gave you an insight into the traditions and history of the places they were set in, from deepest Siberia to Japan. They are very much stories of folklore that you can imagine being told around a cosy fire. There is some stunning imagery of landscapes and places that really capture the imagination.

I also really enjoyed Cornelia’s thoughts at the end of each story. She really emphasises the strong female characters and also helps the reader imagine if some of the roles were reversed and the females became the heroes.

It is such a lovely collection and reminded me a lot of Hans Christian Anderson which I used to read when I was younger. It has something for all ages and I really recommend it, especially as I mentioned as a gift for this time of the year.

“Through the Water Curtain” is published by Pushkin Press and you can find more details here.

Until next time,



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