Win an ARC of Lies, Knives, and Girls in Red Dresses! See details below.

I write this on a brailler, a kind of typewriter

for the blind. Ella is married and happy. Our

Ever After is silence, darkness, and bitterness.


We have names, by the way. She’s Sarah

and I’m Kathy. We were always close.

As girls we lay in bed kissing and pretending

one of us was the prince. We were practicing

for happiness.


Mother turned us against our stepsister,

belittling her. But there was always

something dangerous in those blue eyes,

and we should have seen it. Even in tatters

Ella was desirable — a little thigh showing

here, some soot at her cleavage. And what

a tease — dashing away at midnight leaving

the heir to the throne groaning in his purple



Then when Mother heard about the big Slipper

Raffle, she never gave up, forcing the surgery

on us. And it almost worked, because

we were on our way to the castle when

those birds warned him. What a scene —

tattletale fowl, blood pouring from our shoes,

Mother howling. And then You-Know-Who

comes out of the kitchen barefoot with some

wisps of golden hair stuck to her brow and he

all but goes to his knees and sucks on her

perfect toes.

Excerpt copyright © 2012 Ron Koertge

About the book:

Writing in free verse honed to a wicked edge, the incomparable Ron Koertge brings dark and contemporary humor to twenty iconic fairy tales.

Once upon a time, there was a strung-out match girl who sold CDs to stoners. Twelve impetuous sisters escaped King Daddy’s clutches to jiggle and cavort and wear out their shoes. A fickle Thumbelina searched for a tiny husband, leaving bodies in her wake. And Little Red Riding Hood confessed that she kind of wanted to know what it’s like to be swallowed whole. From bloodied and blinded stepsisters (they were duped) to a chopped-off finger flying into a heroine’s cleavage, this is fairy tale world turned upside down. Ron Koertge knows what really happened to all those wolves and maidens, ogres and orphans, kings and piglets, and he knows about the Ever After. So come closer— he wants to whisper in your ear.

What people are saying:

“A fiendishly clever and darkly funny collection.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Turn over the rock of any fairy tale, and there is Ron Koertge with a version your grandmother wouldn’t recognize. Here are the familiar tales made new—subversive, post-modernized, and refitted with a sense of humor as wicked as any witch.”—Billy Collins, Poet Laureate

“These ain’t your grandma’s fairy tales. These have teeth. Ron Koertge is wickedly clever and imaginative in his macabre poems. You’ll recognize the characters, but, oh, my, what are they up to!”—Paul B. Janeczko, author of Requiem: Voices of the Terezín Ghetto

“So you think you’re too old for fairytales? Think again. Koertge puts the ‘grim’ into the Brothers Grimm. These transformed classics are dark, funny, gruesome, and insanely original.”—Sonya Sones, author of What My Mother Doesn’t Know

“Ron Koertge’s new poems are acid-lolli-pop-culture treats. Between lullaby and lunacy you’ll find the menacing, the maimed, the rescued, and the recused. Are these poems, or are they tweets from the twilight where wolves and bears nurse their grievances? LIES KNIVES AND GIRLS IN RED DRESSES is more than a shopping list for wicked wolves: it is a wicked send-up of nursery tale morality. Wiser readers will howl–and that’s a good thing.”—Gregory Maguire, author of Wicked and What-the-Dickens

Released: July 10, 2012

About the author:

Ron Koertge is the author of many celebrated novels, including Stoner & Spaz,Strays, and The Brimstone Journals, all American Library Association Best Books for Young Adults; Shakespeare Bats Cleanup, and American Library Association Top Ten Sports Books for Youth Selection; and The Arizona Kid, an American Library Association pick for “one of the ten funniest books of the year.” A two-time winner of the PEN Literary Award for Children’s Literature, Ron lives in South Pasadena, California. Visit him at


We are giving away an ARC of Lies, Knives, and Girls in Red Dresses!

Just comment on this post to enter.

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Please list your extra entries in the comments.

The contest is open in the US and Canada, and ends on July 25th at midnight EST.

Good luck and happy reading!