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Title: Black Thorn, White Rose

Editors: Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling

LOC Call No.: PS648.F3 B53

LOC Subjects:
Fairy tales -- Adaptations.

Additional Subjects:
Anthologies -- Fantasy

Source: owned

Rating: an anthology with some true gems and some dull rocks

Readings: March or April 1997

Our friend Alan gave this to Kim for Christmas one year. It got buried in a pile of books and finally turned up a couple of years later. I read it because I was intrigued with the idea of fairy tales adapted for adults.

The introduction by the editors was one of the best parts, especially this paragraph:

"The literary fairy tale, like the music of jazz, is an improvisation on a theme. It eschews our modern obsession with novelty, our insistence on plots that surprise on every page and ideas that have never been uttered before. Like jazz, it is best appreciated by those with an ear for the original melody no which it is based. The pleasure lies in savoring the reader's skill as she or he transforms a familiar story, bringing to it their own unique vision of the tale, and of the world around them."

As with many anthologies, there were some stories I loved, but more that bored or bothered me. Here's a mini-review for each piece.

Title Author Comments
Words Like Pale Stones Nancy Kress A well-done retelling of "Rumplestiltskin".
Stronger Than Time Patricia C. Wrede A fascinating twist on "Sleeping Beauty".
Somnus's Fair Maid Ann Downer Another, very different and very satisfying retelling of "Sleeping Beauty".
The Frog King, or Iron Henry Daniel Quinn Ugh. Shudder.... This felt like a school creative writing assignment.
Near-Beauty M. E. Beckett A wonderfully short and confusing tale about frogs (sort of) and sleeping beauties (almost).
Ogre Michael Kandel A very odd piece supposedly based upon "The Yellow Dwarf".
Can't Catch Me Michael Cadnum A first-person "this is how it really happened" retelling of "The Gingerbread Man".
Journeybread Recipe Lawrence Schimel A follow-up to "Can't Catch Me" that should have been left out, saving three pages.
The Brown Bear of Norway Isabel Cole A new take on a Scandinavian folktale of shapeshifting. It made more sense when I re-read it several weeks later.
The Goose Girl Tim Wynne-Jones A chilling recounting of the old story. Sent shivers up my spine.
Tattercoats Midori Snyder The best story of the lot by far, based on similar stories found throughout the world. If you are married, you will feel this tale in your heart.
Granny Rumple Jane Yolen Yolen is arguably the best modern fairy tale writer alive. This story shows it -- refreshing, polished, and original, but still based on "Rumplestiltskin".
The Sawing Boys Howard Waldrop Hiding beneath a fantastic story set in 1920s America -- complete with slang -- is "The Brementown Musicians" (my favorite fairy tale as a child).
Godson Roger Zelazny A masterpiece based on one of the Brothers Grimm's tales
Ashputtle Peter Straub Shudder. A slow build-up of horror about modern child abuse. A little scattered, though.
Silver and Gold Ellen Steiber A poem based on "Red Riding Hood".
Sweet Bruising Skin Storm Constantine "The Princess and the Pea"... indeed. As the editors noted, "deliciously dark and disturbing."
The Black Swan Susan Wade In the spirit of the character Aurelie (from Paula Volsky's Illusion), "It is so romantic! La!" A well-written story of a tom-boy seeking to catch the eye of the one she loves and the consequences of her actions.

Page created 5/27/97.
Last updated 03/17/03 at 14:33.

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