Friday, June 6, 2008
Black Heart, Ivory Bones - Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling
Sadly this is the last in the Adult Fairy Tale series of short stories collected by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windlin. It contains 21 tales and poems by 20 different authors. Below is a full list of the stories and a brief description of what they are about.
Rapunzel - Tanith Lee
A young Prince falls in love with a woman he meets on his way home after a battle. He spins his father a tale of Rapunzel to explain where he has been and why it took him so long to arrive home.
The Crone - Delia Sherman
A poem about the familiar figure of The Crone from many fairy tales.
Big Hair - Esther Friesner
A look at Rapunzel in relation to child Beauty Pagents. The end was quite chilling as her daughter follows in her footsteps and there is an illusion to child abuse.
The King with Three Daughters - Russell Blackford
A look at a troll killer based on the Norse tale The Three Princesses in the Blue Mountain. A strange tale about a warrior who has to "rescue" a King's three missing daughters where all is not what it seems.
Boys and Girls Together - Neil Gaiman
A poem covering a variety of fairy tales which looks at boys not wanting to be Princes (any other role is fine!) and girls secretly being Princesses. In their turn they become bad Kings and wicked step mothers, wood-cutters, ancient shepherds, crones and wise-women.
And Still She Sleeps - Greg Costikyan
A look at Sleeping Beauty after the authors marriage collapsed and suffered from depression. It also looks at the romantic notion of love when sleeping girl is dug up. Legends say only her true love can wake her up but it seems he isnot to be found as how can you truely someone from just looking at them, you have to know them first.
Snow in Summer - Jane Yolen
Snow White is better bale to look after herself in this tale by recognising her steo mother when she turns up on her doorstep one day. A bittersweet ending for our heroine.
Briar Rose and Witch - Debra Cash
Two poems with fairy tale themes. Not originally written as a pair but they go beautifully together.
Chanterelle - Brian Stableford
Part based on Hansel and Gretel with elements of the novella "Luscignole" and the play "the Sunken Bell" with illusions to the use of magic mushrooms along the way. Another strange and bittersweet tale.
Bear it Away - Michael Cadnum
A new look at Goldilocks and the Three BEars with talking bears that are chaed away by Goldilocks and a hunter.
Goldilocks Tells All - Scott Bradfield
The second Goldilocks tale in the series which sees Goldilocks cashing in on her tale and dishing the dirt in the media and in her novels of femal empowerment. It takes the stance that Goldilocks was never the innocent one in the tale...
My Life as a Bird - Charles de Lint
Set in Newford (de Lint's made up city) it contains elements of Rumpelstiltskin and The Fisherman and His Wife. Some familiar characters for those who are familiar with de Lint's tales with the addition of a grumpy dwarf.
The Red Boots - Leah Cutter
Based on the Hans Christian Andersen tale "The Red Shoes" the girl in this tale differs by never giving up her desire to outdo everyone else at dancing to the detriment of her personal relationships and love life. She suffers beatings and loses her best friend who she loves as more than a friend along the way.
Rosie's Dance - Emma Hardesty
Based on Cinderella after reading a poem from "Transformations" by Anne Sexton and looking at a painting by Terrin Windling. Filled with poverty and cruelty as one girl leaves behind her inherited family to make a life for herself. Contains many of the original elements of the tale despite the setting being very different from the original tale.
You, Little Match Girl - Joyce Carol Oates
Evoking the horror that happiness is but an illusion. The central character believes that if she loves no one she is free until her last close relative dies and she is in a car accident armed with just a fading flash light.
Dreaming Among Men - Bryn Kanar
A very odd tale where it turns out that the dreamer is an animal and not a human at all.
The Cats of San Martino - Ellen Steiber
Based on an Italian fairy tale found in Italo Calvino's collection. An interesting tale about a woman who runs away from her boyfriend after he cruelly dumps her for another woman he has been sleeping with behind her back. She finds solace in a house with no doors filled with cats that it turns out can talk. They lok after her until she is ready to return to the human world and carry on with her life. Unfortunately her ex-boyfriend is not so lucky...
The Golem - Severna Park
Looking at the parallel between the alienation of Jewish woman within their own culture with the alienation of the Jews in general. A older woman makes a golem to protect her and her friends from a group of men killing all of the Jews in the area. She is able to bring new life in the form of the golem, and in it's death, new life to an otherwise barren land.
Our Mortal Span - Howard Waldrop
A theme park named Story Book Town where one of the automations (a troll) breaks free and starts to smash up the others including Hans Christian Andersen, the Brothers Grimm and Perrault among other fairy tale characters. His issue is that the story tellers have lied to us and their dead ideas need to be overthrown.
Mr Simonelli or The Fairy Widower - Susanne Clarke
In a similar vein to Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell. It is a rendering of "The Midwife to the Fairies" found in English, Irish, Scotish and Breton variations. Many other fairy tale themes are used in this charming tale of a fairy, his servant and the man who tries to trick them to save the life of a mortal woman.
My personal favourite was The Cats of San Martino very closely followed by Mr Simonelli or The Fairy Widower, My Life as a Bird and The King with Three Daughters. Others that deserve an honourable mention are Big Hair, Boys and Girls Together, Snow in Summer, Briar Rose and Witch, Chanterelle, Goldilocks Tells All, The Red Boots, You Little Match Girl, The Golem and Our Mortal Span. I am really sad this series has ended and I look forward to re-visiting them in the future. I also look forward to reading more anthologies by both women, either together or singly and I higly recommend their collections.