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The Impossible Fairy Tale by Han Yujoo

This was quite a strange and unsettling read. I am not a sensitive reader, but this was about as much as I could take: a child killing a kitten, abusing and nearly killing a mentally challenged child, a child murdering another child.

I was shocked, but at the same time
I had to disentangle the story and I had to keep on reading.

The first part is a disturbing story told in the 3rd person about what parental abuse does to children, makes them mentally ill, violent and dangerous. Not only is there violence towards children, but between children as well. The sad, disturbed, ill Child is never named by any name, she is only the instrument of violence, abuse, the supressed hatred and pain. I liked the visual representation of it, supressed thoughts and feelings written (secretly) in the brackets.

While reading, there is a constant feeling of impending doom, a feeling that something will go terribly wrong, that a tragedy is going to happen soon. And – it does.

In the second part, told in the 1st person, the narration differs greatly. We soon find out that our narrator is the author of the unfinished story from the first part of the novel. It is meta-fictional, a mix of dreams, the author’s journal entries, dialogues between the author and her character – the Child, filled with word associations and wordplay.

Does the story exist on its own? Who is in charge, the author or the character? Who has the power to change the story?
Is the author actually the character?

Did she base the character on her own life, did the head injury she suffered affect her acts and emotions in the way to act violently towards others?

Wanting and hoping to atone for her sin, her own (possible) crime, she wrote a story about the likeness of herself wishing to change the ending. But even though, as shown, the author is the omnipotent god, this was, after all, impossible. An impossible task. It was impossible to make a fairy tale out of a crime, a happy ending out of a horror story.

This novel is confusing, scattered and a bit too much. Beautifully and masterfully written, but I can’t understand why. Why was this story necessary? I always enjoy meta-fiction, but the point of this novel escapes me. Violence is a dreadful thing that should always be avoided? Of course. Abuse of children is the most horrifying thing there is? Absolutely. But, why write a story this disturbing and this complicated to get these messages through I do not understand.

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