Dark and decidedly grown-up stories inspired by fairy tales—from New York Times bestsellers Karen Joy Fowler, Joyce Carol Oates, Susanna Clarke, and more.
This collection from World Fantasy Award–winning editors Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling proves that fairy tales don’t have to be for little children and that happily ever after doesn’t necessarily mean forever. Here, the plights of Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, Rapunzel, and others are reimagined by some of today’s finest literary talents.
Hansel and Gretel make several appearances, not the least being at their trial for the murder of a supposedly helpless old woman. The real, shocking reason for Snow White’s desperate flight from her home is revealed. And the steadfast tin soldier, made flesh and blood, pays a terrible price for his love and devotion.
The twenty-one stories and poems in this collection run the gamut from triumphant to troubling to utterly outrageous, like Don Webb’s brilliant merging of numerous tales into one wild, hallucinogenic trip in his “Three Dwarves and 2000 Maniacs.” All in all, they mine the fantastical yarns we loved as children for new and darker gold.
Includes stories by Michael Cadnum, Karen Joy Fowler, Michael Blumlein, Nalo Hopkinson, Esther M. Friesner, Joyce Carol Oates, Steve Rasnic Tem, Garry Kilworth, Anne Bishop, Gregory Frost, Sten Westgard, Midori Snyder, Harvey Jacobs, Don Webb, Bruce Glassco, Pat Murphy, John Crowley, Nina Kiriki Hoffman, Susanna Clarke, Nancy Kress, and Jane Yolen.
John Crowley, Joyce Carol Oates and Michael Cadnum are the biggest names among the 21 authors who contribute to this sterling fourth collection of retold fairy tales edited by Datlow and Windling (Ruby Slippers, Golden Tears). A few of the stories here, such as Anne Bishop's "Rapunzel," differ from more familiar versions only through a change in point of view, but others take more radical and inspiring liberties. In "The Trial of Hansel and Gretel," Gary Kilworth raises more than a few doubts about the motivation behind an old woman's murder, while Oates demonstrates, in "In the Insomniac Nights," that imagined threats can be just as deadly as real ones. Susanna Clarke's charming "On Lickerish Hill" sets the tale of Rumplestiltskin in the days of the gentleman scientist, and Don Webb's "Three Dwarves and 2000 Maniacs" proves a wonderfully twisted mix of fairy tales replete with deliciously bad puns. Other standouts include Pat Murphy's "The True Story" (of Snow White) and Esther Freisner's "No Bigger Than My Thumb," a bitter tale of witchcraft and vengeance. Compared to these, the Hansel and Gretel remakes of Crowley's "Lost and Abandoned" and Nina Kiriki Hoffman's "The Breadcrumb Trail" come off as strangely bland. Readers looking for deeper insight into childhood stories will enjoy this collection, as will anyone who just wants to read some good fantasy.