Toads and Diamonds by Heather Tomlinson gives a different historic twist to the old fairytale, which sets it off in a wonderfully diverse direction. I had always found the original fable too grim, and one-dimensional. This retelling recasts the tale into exotic, ancient India and offers goddess Naghali-ji. Diribani who truly understands the inner desires of these stepsisters and the needs of their country.
This story illustrates how in diverse situations both sets – toads and snakes and jewels and flowers – can equally be a blessing or a curse. I know, almost impossible to imagine speaking and spewing forth snakes as a boon – you’ll have to read to it to see. Soon it becomes impossible to imagine how either Diribani or Tana will find love with such heavy burdens. Despite their opposite personalities, the two teen stepsisters love each other and aren’t the bitter rivals of most traditional tales. Ultimately, it was their unique struggles to understand their ‘gifts’, avoid their dangerous circumstances and steadfast journey to reunite their family that ensnared me.