Review of Allerleirauh by Chatal Gadoury

A beautiful princess must escape one treacherous vow…
And she must do so alone…without a prince to save her. 
Princess Aurelia is bound to the wicked king of Tranen by her mother’s single, dying wish: He must remarry a woman who possesses her same golden hair. 
But Aurelia has magic on her side. Disguised by a cloak made of one-thousand furs, she escapes into the night with only memories of her sordid past and her own will for freedom. 
But after finding safe haven in the beautiful kingdom of Saarland der Licht, will the secret of her identity be compromised when she captures the attention of the captivating Prince Klaus? 

If you think you have had enough of retellings at the moment, you would be very wrong to overlook this one!  At the start of the book the author reminds you that Allerleirauh is based on a Grimm’s fairytale which also stands as a warning that what is to come is neither a light and fluffy Disney story nor will it shy away from the dark origins that that those who have read the originals would expect.  Whilst I know many of the Grimm’s tales, Allerleirauh is one that I had not come across before.  Having since familiarised myself with it I can say that this story stays pretty close to the source, it is very dark at times and extremely uncomfortable to read on occasion, but without that, the story would lose much of its impact and it wouldn’t have the same emotional feel as you follow Aurelia’s dangerous path of escape.

Princess Aurelia is an entirely relatable character, from the day she was born she has been a disappointment, shunned by her parents for not being the male heir so coveted. She is the epitome of sheltered court life, incredibly naive but with a beautiful innocence, a young woman who remains emotionally a little girl when it comes to being starved of a parents love.  When the King starts showing her affection it’s no wonder she jumps at the chance to please him after all those years being ignored.  This makes what she endures all the more heartbreaking as she is too slow to fully put together the puzzle pieces. It was refreshing to have a female lead who didn’t fall into the usual tropes of hidden powers or secret ninja fighting skills, she is just a scared young girl who can’t fight back.

Allerleirauh is split into two parts and I think that was wise as the two parts have markedly different tones. Whilst the first is dark and shocking the second is hopeful with a growing light shining through. The name she adopts of Allerleirauh reflects a cloak she wears to conceal her true identity “of many furs” is the meaning and whilst I don’t want to spoil the story by saying how she gets it, it becomes the mark of her progress in the hope within part two.  She doesn’t let her past define her and whilst she struggles to accept this past she finds herself surrounded by those who accept her unquestioningly.

Despite the darkness this was a book that I absolutely devoured across 2 sittings. The pace and flow of the story was perfect and the writing style really stood out for me.  There was such an ease as I read, that I kept turning the pages almost unknowingly until I was suddenly almost the whole way through!  Whilst original Grimm tales were not lengthy in themselves, Chantal Gadoury manages to manipulate that story so masterfully that even with Allerleirah’s full novel length, none of it feels like padding. This is a book which took me completely by surprise and I don’t hesitate in giving it a full 5*

Allerleirauh is currently available through Parliament House Press at Amazon

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