by Leigh Bardugo
Series: The Grisha #2.6
Published: June 24, 2014
Genres: Fairy Tale, Fantasy, Novella, Young Adult
Format: eBook (32 pages)
In this third Ravkan folk tale from Leigh Bardugo, a beautiful girl finds that what her father wants for her and what she wants for herself are two different things.
It is a companion story to the third book of the Grisha Trilogy, Ruin and Rising, and the stories “The Witch of Duva” and “The Too-Clever Fox.”
Short and Sweet Version
If all Princess fairy tales had a feminist ending, it would come out exactly like this beautifully written short story. If you like Princess stories but don’t like the “I have to get married, a guy needs to save me” theme, then you will love this fascinating fairy tale. Little Knife is about a girl who is so so pretty but no one listens to her. They really, really should have.
Jessica Thinks Too Much Version
This is a story of Yeva, a girl that was so so pretty. And it sucked. People thought she was a demon. She couldn’t go outside because it caused a scene. Instead of passively accepting her fate, Yeva asks why she has to hide. GOOD QUESTION. Why can’t women be accepted as they are? Why is she expected to change her behavior which is normal (i.e. going outside) while the village doesn’t feel the need to change their abnormal behavior (i.e. freaking out whenever they see her)?
No one ever asks Yeva what she wants. Her father, the Duke, is the worst. He is always thinking what he can get out of her instead. He really, really should have asked her what she wanted.
The tasks that the Duke sets up to find a husband for his Mega Hot Daughter (aka Yeva) are selfish and ridiculous and are what most of the plot is about. I liked the writing of this fairy tale. It has a charming repetitive style. Yeva logically questions the stupid things the Duke has the men do to compete for her hand and he ignores her. Idiot.
If this had been a regular fairy tale, the underdog Semyon would have won her hand. He’s poor. No one likes him that much. He has magic. But through the story we see how he is no better than the Duke because he blames the river for all his problems. The freakin’ river who is literally just sitting there minding it’s own business. For a poor person, he seems awfully rude and entitled. Luckily, the river obeys Semyon’s magic and helps him with the stupid tasks. He rewards the river, which he nick-named Little Knife, by being ungrateful and demanding.
“Now slice through the ground and fetch me the coin, Little Knife, or what good are you to me?”
– Leigh Bardugo, Little Knife (Location 181)
The ending rocks. The river kicks butt, turns into a powerful magical being, and is the first person to ask Yeva what she wants. Turns out, Yeva wants freedom. The river and Yeva leave the town, destroying it on their way out. Yeva lives by the sea and does normal things. Then she gets old and ugly but she doesn’t bloody care because she’s a free person. That’s the best ending to a fairy tale ever.
Why do you think it’s common for women to be expected to change to what someone else wants?
This story really highlighted for me the ways in which women are expected to change. It reminded me of an experience I had. An ex-boyfriend insisted that I change my life to fit better with his. Newsflash – he wasn’t doing anything with his life. It would have taken zero effort to change his life. I was going to school and he wasn’t. I had a job and he didn’t. But since I was the girl I was expected to flip my life upside down. Go to a new school, get a new job so he could stay exactly where he was. Don’t worry. I dumped him. Have you ever experienced that? Being asked to change to fit someone else’s ideal?
Content Rating: Everyone. Clean read.
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