This first tale made me want to dig out my old doll collection from my parents’ basement. Wolfen M puts an elfin spin on E.T.A. Hoffman’s classic tale, The Nutcracker and the Mouse King (1816). In this new version, Romantic fairy tale meets Gaian fantasy. While much of Hoffman’s original plot remains intact, Wolfen M realizes the potential the tale has to explore deeper into the Pagan possibilities of fantasy. With elves, dryads, brownies, and other fantastic creatures, The Solstice Tales adds new, but very fitting, elements to a classic story. A truly enjoyable read, this version of the tale takes us into another world and explores the root of magical powers.
I found Marie’s character the most entertaining, because she teaches us to believe in magical, fantastic things no matter how old we are. The story also invites readers to think about souls possessing objects at a much deeper and spiritual level than in Hoffman’s original story. This brings in the Gaian element, and makes for special connections and relationships between objects that have a life force and living creatures.
Following the first tale, Wolfen M brings Drosselmeier, Marie, and Erich back for more action into a retelling of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol (1843). In the original, the ghost of Jacob Marley warns Ebenezer Scrooge that he will be visited by three spirits, but Dickens doesn’t explain how Jacob knows this or what his relationship is with the spirits. The Solstice Tales addresses this gap in plot and turns the focus to Jacob and the spirits rather than Ebenezer.
This tale, like the original novel, teaches about self-reflection and learning from one’s past. We are told and shown a series of cause-and-effect events from Jacob’s past that have influenced Ebenezer to be such a curmudgeon. Jacob’s recollections show a tragic past that he cannot cope with even after he has died. He carries the chains of guilt and unrequited love that he cannot seem to release himself from. The spirits serve as magical therapists who let Jacob talk through his feelings and emotions while giving him glimpses back into key moments of the past.
Meanwhile, Jacob’s love for Ebenezer moves his ghost to follow the spirits through their evening travels. The side commentary to the story that we know so well and the spin of Jacob’s illicit feelings create an entertaining and emotional reading experience. Wolfen M effectively weaves humor into a tale filled with regret, grief, and guilt—but more importantly, love. For the spirits, love is a driving force. The continuation of this message throughout Wolfen M’s witty, new version makes the reader feel the warmth and inspiration that Dickens’ original taught us long ago.
Love, magic, courage, curiosity, and strength fill the pages of The Solstice Tales. I look forward to seeing what Wolfen M’s ingenuity and imagination will come up with next in The Drosselmeier Chronicles. With ease, Wolfen M allows classic tales to overlap, and I hope to see Drosselmeier and friends making their way into more stories, bringing magic and love to our favorite characters’ lives.