Anonymous, lost to history, nameless, this is what Adelaide Schumacher should have been. Medieval girls do not make legends. If they are lucky to live long enough, they make babies.
Adelaide’s mother, Katrina, was the finest storyteller in all of Airsbach, a borough in the great city of Cologne, but she left one story untold, that of her daughter, that of Snow White. Snow White was a pet name Adelaide’s mother had given her. It was a name Adelaide hated, until now. Now, she would give anything to hear her mother say it once more.
A rampant fever claimed Adelaide’s mother just like a thousand others in Cologne where the people die without last rites and the dead are dumped in a vast pit outside the city walls. In an effort to save Katrina’s soul, Adelaide’s father obtains a secret funeral for his wife by bribing the parish priest, Father Soren.
Soren commits an unforgivable atrocity, pushing Adelaide toward vengeance. When Adelaide realizes that the corruption in Cologne reaches far beyond Soren, the cost of settling scores quickly escalates. Avenging the mother she lost may cost Adelaide everything she has left: her father, her friends, her first love, and maybe even her life.
Seamlessly weaving historical events and Grimm’s fairytales into a tale of corruption and devotion, The Fairytale Keeper, leaves the reader wondering where fact ends and fiction begins. The novel paints Medieval Cologne accurately and vividly. The story develops a set of dynamic characters, casting the famous villains, heroes, and damsels of Grimm’s fairy tales into believable medieval lives. Though historically set, The Fairytale Keeper brims with timeless themes of love, loyalty, and the struggle for justice.
The Fairytale Keeper
Avenging the Queen
by Andrea Cefalo
Paperback, 280 pages
Published June 1st 2012 by Scarlet Primrose Press
Snow White was a pet name her mother had given her, but her mother’s dead now. Adelaide hates that name anyway. A rampant fever claimed Adelaide’s mother just like a thousand others in Cologne where the people die without Last Rites and the dead are dumped in a large pit outside of the city walls. Adelaide’s father is determined to obtain a funeral for his wife, but that requires bribing the parish priest, Father Soren. When Soren commits an unforgivable atrocity, he pushes Adelaide to her breaking point, but if she seeks justice against the cruel priest, she risks sacrificing everything: her father, her friends, her first love, and maybe even her life.
1) In the Fairytale Keeper-Avenging the Queen, you incorporate several different fairytales into the everyday lives of the characters. How did you come up with that idea?
The idea came to me during a children’s literature class. We were comparing fairy tales across cultures, and the professor said that nearly all cultures had a Cinderella story. If that’s true, then either the real Cinderella lived hundreds, or thousands, of years ago, or there is just something so compelling about such a story that most cultures created their own. What my story presupposes is maybe all of Grimm’s fairy tales are based on a real person. I posit that that person is the real Snow White and that she comprised these tales through the people she’d met, the stories she’d been told, and the events she’d experienced.
2) The novel takes place in a very set time in history, March 1247. Obviously you picked that time for a reason. Can you tell us why?
At first, I chose the thirteenth century because I knew that anyone composing Grimm’s fairy tales would have lived long ago, but as I did more research and the story started to come together I knew I needed the year to be 1247 because there is a very important event that takes place in the book which also took place in that year, but if I reveal that it would be a HUGE spoiler for those who haven’t read the book yet. As the plot to the other books has developed, I’ve realized how much turmoil the Holy Roman Empire was in during this time because the emperor became weak and other political figures rose up to usurp his power. That plays a part in the series.
3) You must have done a lot of research for that time period, what did you do and how long did that take? Did you enjoy it?
It was a lot of research. It still is a lot of research since I am writing the other books in The Fairytale Keeper series.
I’ve found resources wherever I could whenever I needed them. It’s hard to say how long the research takes because I do it as I go, but there certainly has been a lot. I’ve read a thesis about 13th century Cologne. I’ve read several books on Medieval history. I’ve read short biographies about the actual families and famous people living during the time period. I’ve had Medieval maps blown up and printed. I’ve labeled the individual streets, churches, markets, and boroughs of Cologne.
I love doing research just as much as I love writing. I think to write a series like this, where it is difficult at times to find the right information, and there is a lot of information to find, the author has to love research.
4) Is any of the information in the story based on actual events that happened in history?
Yes. Konrad Von Hochstaden was Archbishop of Cologne in the year 1247. He was a power-hungry and sometimes ruthless man that didn’t always get along with the people he ruled. There is another very important event that takes place in the book which also took place in that year, but I can’t reveal that. Most of the locations are real. Hay Market, the churches, the street names, these are all real. There are also a variety of events that take place in the second novel that are based on historical fact.
5) The Plague is rampant during your novel. You're dropped into your story, having to live in that setting, how would you avoid getting the fever?
The fever in my story is based on a highly contagious, but also very deadly influenza like that of the 1918 epidemic. The people living in the thirteenth century wouldn’t have used the word plague. That word wasn’t used until the Black Death. The fever I created in the novel is completely fictitious, a necessary element to drive the plot. Researchers seem to go back and forth as to the actual date of the first flu epidemic, so it is possible for something like this to have happened. There are many references to sweating sicknesses and fevers. I think those could have been flus, but that has not been proven.
If I were to be dropped into that situation, I would buy some soap and keep my hands clean. I would wear a face mask if I had to be around anyone who was sick, but generally I would avoid the sick. Unfortunately for people living during that time period, they wouldn’t have had the knowledge of disease prevention that we have today. Researchers still go back and forth on how much people living during this time period knew and how good the treatments were, but the general sentiment of Medieval medicine is that it was archaic, ineffective, and based more on superstition than actual science.
6) As a woman, what job would you have taken up had you been widowed by the plague and had children to feed?(Based on your current skills set)
Well, since I’m a woman, it is unlikely that anyone was going to pay me to write so I couldn’t do that, but I do have a degree in education and a lot of child care experience. I guess I would hope that one of the wealthier families might hire me to care for their children. I would probably have to rent out some of my house as well to help feed my children on top of that income. The life of a widow was certainly not an easy one.
7) What is your favorite time period in history? Why?
When it comes to writing and reading, I love the Middle Ages and early Renaissance. I don’t really know why exactly. I’ve just always loved it.
8) If you could change one thing in your favorite time period, what would it be?
As a human being, I wish that people of that time period were more accepting of each other. As a writer, I wouldn’t change a thing. There was a desperation and uncertainty in those times that made people capable of anything. That’s fun to write.
9) When can we expect the second novel in the Fairytale Keeper series?
The next installment comes out August 2013.
10) Any hints you can give us about what to expect?
The best place to find hints as to what will happen in the next books is by following me on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. I really love my Pinterest page. I share visual clues as to what will happen in the next books, but for those who want the latest news, I would say sign up for The Fairytale Keeper Fan Newsletter. Fans can sign up for that on my Facebook page and on my official website.
Also check out Andrea's last visit to Colorimetry.
Andrea Cefalo is founder and chief editor of Obelisk Review and author of The Fairytale Keeper series. She graduated with honors from Winthrop University in 2007 where she studied medieval art history, children’s literature, and education. She enjoys inspiring children of all ages to read and write through her workshops. The Fairytale Keeper, the first in The Fairytale Keeper series, is a medieval novel of corruption, devotion, and the origins of Grimm’s fairy tales. The first novel was released June 2012. The second novel will debut August 2013. Andrea resides in Greenville, South Carolina with her husband and their two border collies.
Find & Follow:
On Special!! Only $.99
Barnes & Noble