Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Twilight Sparkle and the Crystal Heart Spell: UK edition disappoints

Twilight Sparkle and the Crystal Heart Spell books
Too Many Twilight Sparkles?
Oh yes: G. M. Berrow's fine storybook is now on British shelves! And above you can see the photo to prove it. From the left: the original US edition published by Little, Brown; the new UK edition published by Orchard; and the six-chapter mini-promo given away with the monthly magazine this, er, month. Before you all rush out and buy the British book, though, there are a few caveats. First there's the price: RRP is £4.99 and even online it will cost £3.74 from The Book Depository, whereas the same website will sell you the US original for £3.06 with free p&p.

The other concern is the editing. Ah, you say, that's just for localisation purposes? Well... no. True, the expected British English spellings are present and correct, and that's certainly nice to see – though I'm a bit undecided about whether Shining Armour is a good idea. There are also a few changes in grammar and punctuation, and just occasionally an edit does improve things. An example is the dropping of the last word from Twilight's irritating "Spit it out, already!", a line I complained about in my review of the US edition.

The real problem is the significant hacking about of some of the book's text. The most instantly obvious change is that words like "everypony" have been ruthlessly purged. This is a shame, and frankly it's a weird choice, given that in the show – including the UK-spec DVDs – these words are used frequently. There are also a few places where words have been simplified: in Chapter 1, Twilight was originally "inducted into" the ranks of royalty; now she's merely "joined" them. Irritating, given my admiration for the way the show doesn't talk down to its young audience.

All that could be excused were it not for the really major editing that's gone on in places, sometimes removing whole chunks of text. The central story is still present and correct, but quite a bit of the incidental colour has gone. True, on some occasions the shorter British edit is actually more concise, but on others it seems cut-down and vaguely unsatisfying. I doubt it would show up so much to a reader who hadn't read the American edition, but it really does become a glaring difference after a while to those who have.

This probably sounds like so much waffle to many of you reading this, so here are a couple of actual examples to illustrate my point, both from a scene in Chapter 2. Here's the first one:
US edition: "Hello, Mr. Cake," Twilight said, trotting up to the cart, which had begun to draw a sizable crowd of hungry ponies hoping to snag one of the fragrant delights. Twilight hadn't seen such a commotion since the last cider sale at Sweet Apple Acres.

UK edition: "Hello, Mr Cake," Twilight said, trotting up to the cart, which had begun to draw a crowd of hungry ponies. Twilight hadn't seen such a commotion since the last apple juice sale at Sweet Apple Acres.
(That's right: any mention of the dreaded cider has been censored!) Just a little further on, we see the same sort of thing again:
US edition: "Plus, the babies love to get out of the shop," Mr. Cake continued, oblivious to his little foals' devious actions. He was too busy dishing out baked goods to the crowd of hungry townponies. "Fresh air sure does them good!"

UK edition: "Plus, the babies love to get out of the shop," Mr Cake continued, too busy to notice his little foals' naughty actions. "Fresh air does them good!"
I could go on, but I'm sure you get the idea by now. I will give the Orchard edition a point for retaining the fun brony references of the original: "Pegasister-in-law" is still there, as are "True Love and Tolerance" and the cameo by an unnamed Derpy. How much sense any of those will make to little kids in this country who know nothing about My Little Pony beyond the toy ranges, however, is anyone's guess.

In all honesty, it's hard for me to recommend the British edition of this book. I'm sad about that, because I really want to praise companies that support the under-served UK market. But on virtually every comparison, the US book is better: even its standee trading card is bigger. (The British one is called a "pop-out pony" and is devoid of Enterplay branding.) It's also cheaper even on UK-based websites. Berrow deserves her story to sell well... but not in this disappointing British edition. Buy the American one instead.

(I'm not awarding a mark here as this has been largely a comparison, not a standalone review.)

No comments:

Post a Comment