‘Every Poem a Potion, Every Song a Spell’: a beautiful, haunting marriage of poetry and dark fairytales

August 5, 2022

TITLE: Every Poem a Potion, Every Song a Spell
AUTHOR: Stephanie Parent
GENRE: Poetry
PAGES: 100pg
PUBLISHER: Querencia Press, LLC

In Every Poem A Potion, Every Song A Spell, Stephanie Parent navigates grief and despair through poetry inspired by childhood fairytales. Each poem is a lens providing insight through a woman’s internal struggle with identity and perseverance through adversity, the fight it takes to overcome despair, the strength of independence, and the hope that lingers, even still, despite it all. These poems invite the reader to pause and reflect on the fairytales we thought we knew as a child and to draw our gaze inward, searching for our own answers, our own truths, in this world we have come to abide.

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And without those feathers, there
Was no lovely enchanted
Songbird, no pure
Princess, just me:

An ordinary girl
With a sore heart
And a map of words
Beneath my skin

There are few things I love more in the literary world than retellings and stories inspired by fairytales: specifically the dark, old versions of those fairytales, where the curses leave their victims forever changed, where true love is often paralleled by great sacrifice, where the good guy doesn’t always win. All of that is exactly what inspired this poetry collection, and Stephanie Parent did an incredible job bringing back all of those melancholy, dimly lit waves of nostalgia through these poems. Not only do these poems offer a new perspective on those old stories, but they also weave in themes of feminism, being uncomfortable in one’s own skin, and that slow, arduous journey to self-acceptance that so many of us have experienced.

I related immensely to one particular narrative about a young girl who is discontented by the real world and wishes she could be that heroine saving herself from the wicked witch’s curse, escaping the brambles and thorns and crumbling castles. I also couldn’t help relating to a separate but connected theme: a young woman who feels less than special, and finds herself idealizing the clawed grasp of a beast, if only to be his obsession. I was certainly both of these girls at some time or other, and reading these poems was a gentle but bittersweet reminder of where I’ve been and how far I’ve come.

In case you didn’t notice, this collection meant a great deal to me and I enjoyed it immensely. I recommend it highly for anyone who enjoys fantastical poetry and fairytales, and I can’t wait to read more from Stephanie in the future!

Thank you to the author for the review copy! All thoughts are honest and my own.

content warnings →

imprisonment, vague reference to self harm, violence, murder

representation →

brief implication of queerness


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More about Destiny @ Howling Libraries

Just a horror aficionado/geek girl trying to juggle motherhood, reading, blogging, gaming, and everyday life.


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