Read a collection of adult fairy tales from the award-winning author, Cyril Wong.
• • •
Cyril Wong’s Let Me Tell You Something About That Night is a collection of sixteen short stories, all working in tandem to present the the best and worst of people.
Darkness is a constant motif in the book, allowing the individual tales to complement each other to form a very compelling read. As is typical with collections, I thought I would start by selecting certain stories to read. In this case, however, the stories were so bizarre and unexpectedly intriguing that I ended up enjoying all of them, albeit unequally.
This particular collection follows the style of fairy tales, incorporating elements of the fantastical and ludicrous; in doing do, human flaws are cast in an entertainingly macabre light. Here, humanity’s ugliness is made palatable, while its strengths are muted, giving the entire book an overarching sense of gloom.
One story that especially stands out is “The Cave”. It is a seemingly uplifting story of second chances that then plays out as a nightmare of ceaseless repetition. It was, in my opinion, the most frightening story in the entire book. As thinking creatures, we always want more, so much so that we never consider what happens when the luxury of choice overwhelms us. And yet, even as I was frightened by the story, the novelty of the whole idea filled me with a kind of relish.
I also found that the style of writing is choppy and unsophisticated, perhaps deliberately, to emulate the style of “real” fairy tales. The simplistic language also helps to facilitate twists: it creates a sense of normality, lulling the reader into a sense of safety, only to have that wrenched away in the next sentence.
The order of the stories also helps to amplify the spectrum of emotions conveyed: tragedy moves to hope, hope moves to horror, horror moves to optimism, and so on. It is a very fitting caricature of the organized chaos that is the real world.
So if you’d like a collection of dark fairy tales for your sleepless nights, or want to read speculative fiction in general, try Let Me Tell You Something About That Night.
TIP: Throughout the book, certain characters show up in different stories. There is a kind of thrill in recognizing someone from a previous, seemingly unconnected story.