Original anthology of 18 adult fairy tales, a follow-up volume to Snow White, Blood Red.
I'd read this anthology before, but I'm getting psyched for going to Faeriecon this coming weekend, so I wanted to read some of these... This series is one of my all-time favorites, as a whole....
7 • Words Like Pale Stones • Nancy Kress •
This is an powerfully different take on the tale of "Rumplestiltskin" – portrayed with compassion, which makes the actions of the main character, the woman who is asked to spin straw into gold – or else – that much more disturbing. We feel that she – perhaps – could love the odd and magical man who grants her the boon and saves her life – but instead, she forces him, against his will, to agree to teach her son by the prince, who is obviously a truly ‘bad seed,' the ways of power. Obviously, no good will come of this...
30 • Stronger Than Time • Patricia C. Wrede •
A beautiful, and bittersweet ghost story. Perhaps the ‘ghost' aspect is more obvious, at first, than it should be, but I love this take on Sleeping Beauty. The prince destined to save the enchanted princess screwed up and missed his chance. Now, he desperately leads an aging woodcarver on the quest that should have been his...
58 • Somnus's Fair Maid • Ann Downer •
Another retelling of Sleeping Beauty, but this one formulated as a Regency Romance, without any supernatural element. The beauty here is a young woman whose nasty guardian conspires to marry her to a repulsive older man – but dashing young suitors, of course, wish to save her from this fate. I'm usually not a big fan of romance, but this story is good (and quite ‘liberated,' in the end).
86 • The Frog King, or Iron Henry • Daniel Quinn •
I actually don't like this one. Too gimmicky. Frog gets amnesia after being thrown into a wall? You can read the whole thing, for free, here: http://www.gwu.edu/~folktale/GERM232/frogp/Iron_Henry.html
98 • Near-Beauty • M. E. Beckett •
A sci-fi take on the Frog Prince. Girl meets what her boring boyfriend thinks is an Australian Cane Toad in his shower. Turns out its an alien. Soon, she's running away with him to join an interstellar circus, and interspecies romance occurs...
107 • Ogre • Michael Kandel •
A humorous story which will be sure to be appreciated by anyone who's been involved with amateur theatre productions and the trials and tribulations thereof.
120 • Can't Catch Me • Michael Cadnum •
Not the hugest fan of this one. From the point of view of the Gingerbread Man – but I didn't see that much point to it.
129 • Journeybread Recipe • Lawrence Schimel •
A short poem. I like it!
132 • The Brown Bear of Norway • Isabel Cole •
I love this story. An American highschool girl falls in love with a Norwegian penpal, and goes out to seek him across Europe... Beautifully written, meshing dream and reality wonderfully.
151 • The Goose Girl • Tim Wynne-Jones •
Having recently read Shannon Hale's Goose Girl, this retelling pales in comparison (sorry!). It's still good, however. The princess here is indeed wronged – but she's also a cold bitch, and we can't help having sympathy for the wild, sensual serving maid – even though she is indeed, self-serving.
173 • Tattercoats • Midori Snyder •
A fairy-tale romance.... Some readers might feel this story is too sappy. It's just about rekindling the love in a marriage, even though it does have fairy tale elements. But it is awfully sweet and happy...
203 • Granny Rumple • Jane Yolen •
Usually I love love love Jane Yolen. But this story, which features Rumplestiltskin as a Jewish moneylender killed in a pogrom started by the vicious woman he lent money to, is rendered much less effective by the pointed sermonizing at the end.
217 • The Sawing Boys • Howard Waldrop •
Hmm. Not sure of how I feel about this one. A 1920's gang with a cobbled-together plan to pull a heist of a rural village fair is unwittingly stopped in their tracks by the beauty of a klezmer-country-saw band. It's intentionally cartoonish.
245 • Godson • Roger Zelazny •
It's pretty useful to have Death as your godfather – especially when he encourages you to become a doctor, and does you all kinds of favors. But when Death is a big sports fan, and wants to adjust things inconveniently for your relationship in order to benefit his favorite team – well, things can get difficult. Fun story.
281 • Ashputtle • Peter Straub •
Horror story about a kindergarten teacher who's a serial killer.
306 • Silver and Gold • Ellen Steiber •
Short poem based on Red Riding Hood.
310 • Sweet Bruising Skin • Storm Constantine •
A dark fantasy take on The Princess and the Pea. A manipulative queen seeks the help of an alchemist to obtain a docile bride for her son, in order to maintain her own power. But when the use of dark arts is uncovered, and the zombie-like girl starts
developing a will of her own, things turn against the queen...
359 • The Black Swan • Susan Wade
Country-princess Ylianna is desperate to gain the heart of an already-engaged prince who has nothing but scorn for her rough ways. She turns to a servant and countryman to guide her in matters of deportment and etiquette, but soon goes far further than he recommends, trying to transform herself into the sort of woman who would catch his eye. Again – no good can come of this. The story manages to get across its rather modern anti-diet-and-fashion-magazine-type message without being too in-your-face about it.