This Tale Is Forbidden

This Tale Is Forbidden

By Author / Illustrator

Polly Crosby



Age range(s)







Paperback / softback




Control the story, control the world... Nesta believes in the fairy tales - the true stories of powerful magical women who shaped and ruled the world decades ago. But the world has changed since then, and now, she is forbidden from wandering too far from the isolated woodland cottage where she lives with her grandmother. Nesta longs more than anything to see the city that lies beyond the forest, and when her grandmother is abducted, she gets her chance, journeying there in the hope of rescuing her. But once there, she is horrified to see her grandmother's warnings were true: girls are forced to wear certain clothes and punished if they don't behave in certain ways. The city's Authorities have rewritten history, replacing the fairytale heroines with weak girls who must rely on men. Worse still - everyone believes this is how the world has always been. Only Nesta knows the truth. But truth is a dangerous thing, and suddenly she finds herself a target. Can she evade the Authorities long enough to rescue her grandmother and liberate everyone else, bringing magic back into the world?

The Handmaid's Tale meets The Brother's Grimm in this thrilling dystopian fantasy. A feminist fairy tale retelling which will make you rethink traditional stories forever. YA debut from Polly Crosby, the much-loved author of Vita and the Birds, The Unravelling and The Illustrated Child. A stunning cover by Noma Bar, the illustrator of Margaret Atwood's book covers




In This Tale is Forbidden, a secluded, cosy cottage and Woods laced with magic provide the suitably fairy tale setting for this story about a wise grandmother and her impulsive granddaughter. Nesta's world is rooted in nature and she loves the forest she is free to roam in, a place of fairy tales and their magical heroines. But she longs to visit the forbidden city beyond the forest and is impatient to experience life beyond her small, cosseted world. Her wish is granted in the most diabolical way when her grandmother is kidnapped and Nesta is forced to take drastic action. Guided by the wolves she has long known as her protectors, she begins a journey towards an unknown menace.

In a city of brainwashing, malevolent authorities and barbarically caged women Nesta's defiance and naivety can sometimes feel a little wearying but she meets a remarkable foil in Kit, a damaged soul who works at the Safe Haven - a female refuge – and the pair soon join forces.

This is an ardently feminist story – a re-imaging of fairy tales that empowers women. There is also some strong messaging about preserving nature and the recklessness and short-sightedness of deforestation. If a young girl in a cloak, her grandma, a cottage in the woods and the presence of wolves seem familiar, be prepared for a twist. This is Red Riding Hood for Gen Z!

320 pages / Ages 12+ / Reviewed by Clare Wilkins, school librarian

Suggested Reading Age 11+


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