Best-selling author, Kate Forsyth retells seven forgotten ancient stories with strong and wise female heroes in her book, Vasilisa the Wise and Other Tales of Brave Young Women. The female heroes in the book are role models for girls growing up today.

These ancient tales of wonder and adventure are about learning to be strong, brave, kind and true-hearted, and trusting in yourself to change the world for the better. –Kate Forsyth

Forsyth’s stories are accompanied by powerful and sometimes dark illustrations from the talented, Lorena Carrington. The result is a gorgeous book full of symbolism and metaphor and hidden meanings. Vasilisa the Wise and Other Tales of Brave Young Women is a book of stories for young and old.

The stories contained are not sanitised tales where princesses sleep until their princes come to rescue them from their slumber–Forsyth’s characters fight the monsters and save their princes.

Stories included:

  • Vasilisa the Wise – a Russian variant of Cinderella with a terrifying Baba-Yaga.
  • Katie Crackernuts – based on an oral Orkney tale. A brave and clever girl saves her sister and a young lord. Katie’s solidarity with her sister is heart-warming.
  • A Bride for Me Before a Bride for You – based on a nineteenth century Norwegian fairytale and tells the story of a young bride who bravely outwits a paint serpent.
  • The Rainbow Prince – based on an eighteenth century French fairytale and tells the tale of a princess kidnapped by an old and wicked fairy.
  • The Singing, Springing Lark (my personal favourite) – a beautiful variant of ‘Beauty and the Beast’. I love the commitment of the girl who followed her husband (turned into a white dove by sorcery) for seven years by following a trail of blood and white feathers.
  • The Toy Princess – this is the classic princess story turned upside down–the princess loses her royal status and finds freedom in honest work and a simple life.
  • The Stolen Child – based on a Scottish oral folktale tells the story of a young mother who cleverly fights for her infant child.

There are no knights in shining armour, no glass slipper or stolen kisses: just the ‘wild love and longing’ of a mother for her child. With its strong focus on female independence, it is a fairytale I’m very glad to pass onto my daughters. –Lorena Carrington


Bravo Kate Forsyth, Lorena Carrington and Serenity Press for giving the world such a beautiful book!

Theresa Smith of Australian Women Writers recently interviewed Kate Forsyth about Vasilisa the Wise and Other Tales of Brave Young Women. You can read the interview here.

Note: I loved this book so much I have bought six copies to share with the girls in my life.