Synopsis: Twenty-one darker, deeper, more adult takes on some of our favorite childhood fairy tales, from acclaimed contemporary fantasists
Long ago, when we were children, our dreams were inspired by the fairy tales we heard at our mothers’ and grandmothers’ knees—stories of princesses and princes and witches and wondrous enchantments, by the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen, and from the pages of 1001 Arabian Nights. But, as World Fantasy Award–winning editors Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling remind us, these stories were often tamed and sanitized versions. The originals were frequently darker—and in Silver Birch, Blood Moon, they turn darker still.
Twenty-one modern Grimms and Andersens—masterful storytellers including Neil Gaiman, Nancy Kress, and Tanith Lee—now reinvent beloved bedtime stories for our time. The Sea Witch gets her say, relating the story of “The Little Mermaid” from her own point of view. “Thumbelina” becomes a tale of creeping horror, while a delightfully naughty spin is put on “The Emperor’s New Clothes.” Author Caitlin R. Kiernan transports Snow White to a dark, gritty, industrial urban setting, and Patricia Briggs details “The Price” of dealing with a royal and unrepentantly evil Rumpelstiltskin.
Rich, provocative, and unabashedly adult, each of these tales is a modern treasure, reminding us that wishes have consequences and not all genies have our best interests at heart.
4 out of 5 stars
I have expressed my love for Ellen Datlow, my love for short stories, and my love of fairy tales often in this blog and this book combines all three. It’s a definite winner for me!
The book contains twenty-one fairy tales that have been rewritten from another point of view. Whether that’s a more modern viewpoint, a darker one, or a completely original take depends on the story itself. There are some incredible authors in this book, like Neil Gaimen and Tanith Lee and some really phenomenal writing. This book is the fifth in a series which I didn’t realize when I started reading but am thrilled about – more books like this please!
What I liked: There were a couple of stories that really stood out as exceptional.
“Kiss Kiss’ by Tanith Lee – The first story in the book, and in my opinion, the best. This is a retelling of the story of the princess and the frog. The princess in this story loves her frog companion, but is it worth changing him into a handsome prince and risking it all?
“The Price” by Patricia Briggs – A retelling of Rumplestiltskin, this is such a wonderful story. In this version, the miller’s daughter and Rumplestiltskin are both weavers, and when the king comes to claim her as his bride if she can spin straw into gold, he helps her out of love. He does have a price, but it’s one she is more than willing to pay.
What I didn’t like: There will always be a few stories in collections and anthologies that don’t resonate with me, but that’s purely a personal choice. The book itself is wonderful.
There are a few retellings of Sleeping Beauty and the princess and the frog in this collection but they are all different. I also was surprised by several tales I was completely unfamiliar with – a nice surprise indeed!
If you like fairy tales I suggest you pick this up!