December 8, 2023
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Book Reviews Fantasy History

Good Tales for Bad Dreams Books 5 and 6 by V.M. Sawh: Great retellings of classic tales

Author: V.M. Sawh

Genre: Historical Thriller – Dark Fantasy

Year Published: 2018 – 2022

Nerdection Rating:

Nerdection Must Read”

Good Tales for Bad Dreams as a whole is an anthology series, and every short story is centered around the retelling of classic fairy tales, with author V.M. Sawh adding a special twist to all of them, in this review we are looking at the fifth book titled Setsuko & the Seven Samurai and the sixth book titled The Hunted Rose.

Spoiler-free Plot of Good Tales for Bad Dreams

The fifth book, Setsuko & the Seven Samurai, is set in 16th century Japan and tells the story of the samurai Setsuko and how her beauty in the land caused jealousy in the heart of the evil geisha Izanami, which leads the latter to murder the former’s mother. As the plot goes on, Setsuko suffers a major injury and has to run away to the woods, saved by seven exiled samurais, she now has to learn to become a samurai once more.

Meanwhile, the sixth book, The Hunted Rose, is set in the 20th century during the events of World War II, and our main character, 16-year-old girl Rose Harcourt, whose father was murdered right in front of her by Nazi hands. She runs away to save her grandmother, her only remaining family, and who happens to be living in the woods, but an evil, murderous wolf is stalking the area and Rose will have to survive this ordeal to achieve her goal.

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My take on Setsuko & the Seven Samurai and The Hunted Rose

The idea behind Good Tales for Bad Dreams is something that has been done before, with a lot of people doing classic retellings of classic fairy tales, but the thing that sets V.M. Sawh apart from the rest of the competition is the execution. And when it comes to storytelling, execution will always trump originality.

These two stories are very well-crated, with solid character developments and solid female protagonists that are not victims or Mary Sues either. They are capable but still fail, struggle, and make mistakes, leading them down the path of self-improvement to achieve their goals, which is a storytelling approach that tends to work quite well.

Both books, particularly Setsuko & the Seven Samurai, have violence and done so in a graphic manner, but never reaching the point of being gratuitous–it’s done more to convey a certain mood rather than simple shock value. These are sophisticated stories, written with a very elegant and borderline poetic approach when it comes to dialogue and descriptions.

Sawh keeps things tight in each story and they don’t overstay their welcome. You may end up feeling like you could want more, but that is a sign that the books are well-written. Plus, the worldbuilding is quite good, making you feel that these are realities that have existed for centuries and these characters are real people, which is phenomenal stuff.

Overall, it is a very good series of short stories and it offers a completely different perspective to these classic characters and fairy tales we have known our entire lives.

About The Author Of Good Tales for Bad Dreams

Art imitates life, as the saying goes though it’s not supposed to work the other way around. For V.M. Sawh, life as a marketing specialist took a strange, surreal turn when a devastating car accident mirrored the one he wrote for his marketing specialist main character in Descent. Coincidence became catharsis while V.M. learned to read, write, walk, and talk again. His memories of what came before—and immediately after—never returned and thus, he is sometimes a stranger to himself. A chance meeting with his hero, Oscar-winning director Guillermo del Toro, encouraged him to publish his first novella—Cinders which shot to #1 on Amazon and brought attention from the Toronto Sun newspaper—since then, V.M. Sawh has never looked back. His Good Tales For Bad Dreams short-fiction series has gone on to the top of Amazon’s charts and received critical acclaim. Awards and recognition from the Toronto Public Library, Ontario Writer’s Conference, Wattpad, and Readers’ Favorites have confirmed that his star only continues to rise. V.M. believes that the accident may have knocked some sense into him.

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