Monday, March 17, 2008


Rating : 4.5/5
Number of Pages : 366
Number in Series : #4 Adult Fairy Tales Series
Reason for Reading : Short Story Challenge, Themed Reading Challenge, to continue with the series

Another great collection of adult re-tellings of fairy tales. This collection focuses mostly on The Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen re-tellings and is composed of 21 tales by 21 different authors.

The Flounder's Kiss - Michael Cadnum
Based on the Grimm fairy tale "The Fisherman and his Wife" looking at greed to also making it a more sinister version. One day a fisherman catches a fish that says it will grant him a wish if he lets it go. When he tells his wife about it she gets greedy and keeps sending him back for more and more wishes. Eventually he kills the fish after wishing for silence from his wife.

The Black Fairy's Curse - Karen Joy Fowler
A version of Sleeping Beauty where she dreams beautiful and erotic dreams during her long sleep only to be suddenly awoken by kiss from a Prince and not being too happy about losing her dreams.

Snow in Dirt - Michael Blumlein
Another look at Sleeping Beauty about a man who digs up the body of a woman from his garden. She is sleeping and he tries everything to wake her up until she does so suddenly by herself one morning. She is beautiful and becomes a model before their marriage starts to suffer. She isn't able to handle aging and eventually falls back asleep.

Riding the Red - Nalo Hopkinson
A very dark, sexual and strange look at Little Red Riding Hood.

No Bigger than my Thumb - Esther M Friesner
A dark version of traditional fairy tales of thumb sized children. Lord Galeron has been cursed by a witch making him unable to have children. He visits her after his third wife dies to see if the rumours are true and she has born his daughter. She tricks him after he kills her and her grandmother showing him the daughter he is not quite expecting and in turn killing him.

In the Insomniac Night - Joyce Carol Oates
Inspired by the ballad version of "The Elfin-Knight" where the pivotal character is a false suitor who kills the woman he seduces. A single mother feels like she is being stalked on the order of her ex0husband who wants custody of their two children. On her nightly run she has an encounter with a car and she imagines the childrens father has broken into her house and is videotaping himself raping their children. Filled with suspense.

The Little Match Girl - Steve Rasnic Tam
A poetical re-telling of the tale by Hans Christian Andersen.

The Trial of Hansel and Gretel - Garry Kilworth
Here Hansel and Gretel are portrayed as German peasants who are possibly victims or possibly guilty of sorcery and greed. They are accused of murdering a blind old woman who lived in the forest by pushing her into an oven which they admit to. They claim it was because she was a witch and was going to cook them, but their story has many inaccuracies in it. They stole her treasure and when the judge accuses Gretel of being a witch, their father appears and delays the trial until their step mother can arrive to free them. The judge is turned into a pig as he walks away from the trial.

Rapunzel - Anne Bishop
Another tale of peasants, greed and sorcery. Very similar to "The Root of the Matter" by Gregory Frost in the first anthology (Snow White, Blood Red). The main difference is that the narrator of the story changes between Rapunzel's mother, witch Gothel and Rapunzel herself at the end. Rapunzel is redeemed at the end and is the only one who doesn't bow down to greed.

Sparks - Gregory Frost
A contemporary version of "The Tinder Box" by Hans Christian Andersen. An old Spanish lady hires a war veteran to retrieve her lighter from the bottom of a hollow tree. In the tree are three dogs guarding bronze, silver and gold. He keeps the lighter which turns out to summon the three dogs who also grant wishes. He is able to get the girl of his dreams with the help of the dogs despite being captured along the way.

The Dog Rose - Sten Westgard
Sleeping Beauty told from the prespective of one of the local peasants who is waiting for a prince who can wake her up. Edward is a gardener and has a relative in Beauty's house. He hears the roses are in bloom so goes off to see if he can reach the castle at the centre as they are said to part for the right man when blooming.

The Reverend's Wife - Midori Snyder
An oral tale collected from the Kardofan people of Sudan origianlly titled "The Muezzin's Wife". It sees two very different woman tricking each others husbands to lie with them for their own pleasure. The husbands do not realise they are doing anything wrong. Somehow sharing their husbands for a time brings them closer together and both woman are able to get what they most want.

The Orphan the Moth and the Magic - Harvey Jacobs
Based loosely on "The Cottager and his Cat" from a book called The Crimson Fairy Book edited by Andrew Lang. Wilbur's father dies leaving him a secret stash of money, but in a dream a moth tells him to dispose of it as it was won through evil deeds. He does so and ends up on a beach, startled by a strange animal and is taken in by a blind old woman who mistakes him for her cat. There is only one cat in the land and noone knows what it looks like. He ends up sold to the King as a cat and falls in love with Princess Etoile. He tricks them into letting him sleep with her and when the real cat appears he tricks them again into believing it tried to steal his essence and he is now a man again.

Three Dwarves and 2000 Maniacs - Don Webb
A look at Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. Alfred Byron Spencer is known as the Prince of Psychtherapy running an asylum with a great success record. He marries his Snow White, Susan Pelham who he had a crush on in high school and defeats her step mother Rachel Jackdawe and step sister Bertha Goose Girl style.

True Thomas - Bruce Glassco
Based on the famous ballad. True Thomas is forever asking himself if love will endure whilst dwelling on how he met the Queen of the Faeries. He made the choice to stay with her in faerie land with her. The faeries and his life with them are beautifully described and very different fomr the usual depictions.

The True Story - Pat Murphy
The true story of Snow White as told by her step mother turns the tale completely on its head. She sends her daughter away to avoid the advances of her father who is a paedophile and is abusing her. The princess is cared for by seven old woman in the forest (thought by many to be witches), and when her father dies and it is safe she is brought back to rule the kingdom in her own right and not at the side of a prince.

Lost and Abandoned - John Crowley
A divorced father gains custody of his children, but soon falls into poverty. He talks about abondoning them for their own good, Hansel and Gretel style, but can't bring himself to do it.

The Breadcrumb Trail - Nina Kiriki Hoffman
Her first poetical poetry sale after having more than 150 short stories published. The trail leads home, but not to safety as this was the place they were sent from. It also doesn't return at the beginning and they are able to pick their own paths in future.

On Lickerish Hill - Susanna Clarke
Set in East Anglia in the 17th centuary when the distinctions between superstition and science were far more blurred. Elements of Rumplestiltskin fill this tale of fairies and weaving.

Godmother Death - Jane Yolen
A re-telling of "Godfather Death" with Death as a woman this time. The ending is also changed, after tricking Death, instead of getting the princess the king takes offense to his low background and arrests him to be hanged instead.

My favourite tale was easily "The Reverend's Wife" by Midori Snyder. It was the most original and inventive in the collection. I also very much enjoyed "Snow in Dirt", No Bigger then my Thumb", "The Trial of Hansel and Gretel", "Rapunzel", "True Thomas", "The True Story", "On Lickerish Hill" and "Godmother Death". As now many of the authors are repeated from earlier anthologies, I have come to really look forward to reading new stories by authors I enjoyed from previous anthologies but hadn't read before. I think my favourite two new authors from these collections so far are Midori Snyder and Susasnne Clarke.

6 comments:

Melody said...

This sounds good. I might want to add on to my wishlist. Thanks for the review!

ellen-datlow said...

Thanks for the mention. Just so you know, the book, which is now out of print, will be reissued by Prime later this year. Next in the line up (late April) is Ruby Slippers, Golden Tears.

Ladytink_534 said...

I'll be moving the week after next and I'm looking forward to digging out the few I have in this series and re-reading them. Hopefully my library will have the rest!

Nymeth said...

Ohh, great authors on this one! Nalo Hopkinson, Jane Yolen, John Crowley, Susanna Clarke... I think I read Godmother Death online (at Endicott Studio if I'm not mistaken) and I loved it. And I must read Midori Snyder's fiction!

Rhinoa said...

Melody - I think you will really enjoy this series.

Ellen - Thanks again for stopping by. Keep putting together anthologies and I will keep reading them!

Ladytink - I hope you enjoy them even more the second time around.

Nymeth - You will definitely love Midori Snyder's fiction. You MUST read this series!

Literary Feline said...

I definitely have to add this one to my wish list (so glad to hear it's being re-released). I enjoy reading re-tellings of fairy tales and then to have them retold by such great authors! Thanks for a great review.