Cons: Not for the squeamish or faint of heart, some works can be quite disturbing.
The Bottom Line: The best and worst aspects of humanity can be found in these wonder tales. A truly imaginative and thought provoking collection.
Like gleaming drops of royal blood upon an innocent coverlet of snow, this work startles the reader and leaves you pondering the deeper meanings and mysteries hidden in the words before you. Some of the tales seem as natural, beautiful, and dangerous as a sudden storm; One could almost believe they were found fully grown somewhere between the wild blackberries and the sweet red rose. Others have been offered up upon a bloody altar as gruesome sacrifice and a savage leering reminder that some ancient rituals took place in secret, under a moonless sky. Here you will find humor, tragedy, love, lust, kindness, violence, madness, innocence, wisdom, life and death woven into an intricate tapestry of fantasy for the adult reader.
Ruby Slipper, Golden Tears is the third in an enthralling series which collects "wonder tales" and poems with a magpie's delight, giving us 22 gems that glow brightly or burn with dark intensity within this written treasure chest. This series began with Snow White, Blood Red quickly followed by Black Thorn, White Rose. Edited and introduced by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling, there are works harvested from such diverse authors as Gahan Wilson, Susan Palwick, Tanith Lee, Garry Kilworth, Neil Gaiman, and Jane Yolen. Each offering is prefaced by a brief introduction of the author and mention of the old fairy tale around which they have chosen to spin new gold. No two are quite alike and their origins can be found in tales from China, Russia, North America, and Europe.
In the tale, SUMMER WIND, we are shown what life was like behind the impenetrable wall of thorns that surrounded the legendary Sleeping Beauty. We do not find her in peaceful repose, but in a wakeful and prolonged solitude that begins her transformation into a more powerful, if less satisfying, life than Rose had once anticipated for herself. We are left to wonder which familiar legends may lay behind the faces of the seven ancient women who wait to usher her into their sisterhood.
THE REAL PRINCESS is perhaps the most disturbing variation of The Princess and The Pea that I have ever encountered. Eyes widen as we mutely witness the atrocities of this demented lord and the internal struggle of his tortured servant, Malcom, who receives nothing but madness in payment for his attempts at heroism. Yet, who is truly Master and who the Servant? Will either ever receive the justice they deserve? Why would a man wish for a bride so delicate that she bruises at the slightest touch, and would ANY mortal maid truly wish to seek shelter from a storm in such a household? In timeless fairy tale fashion, these answers are revealed.
MASTERPIECE uncovers a more modern look at Rumplestiltskin where gold is spun not from a spindle but from the more elusive talent that creates art from common paint upon a simple canvas.
"However, there is a price. There is always a price. The price for success, my way, is very high. Think of that which you possess and would not part with for the world - *that* is my price - for its is the world I'm offering you, and the world doesn't come cheap." the mysterious man warns our `princess'.
What will his ill-defined payment finally be? Will tradition define her choice as her only child? Perhaps instead, her one true love or the very talent which brought her fame? Will only a soul be enough to satisfy her dark patron? In most tales, she never thinks twice even when the time for payment comes around. She never truly intended to compensate her magical benefactor and he is most often cheated in the end. Here though, we are reminded that one does not make a deal with any devil and expect to come out of it untouched, especially if you cannot guess his name.
While grown around a seed of old familiar themes, these tales have not been clipped and shaped into tame diversions for children by prudish Victorian editors or Puritan storytellers. Beware! Prepare yourself for a journey upon the trails hidden within a forest of wild enchantment, knowing well that your way will pass through both warm light and deep shadow. I recommend that you be most wary of those you may meet there, for in tales of wonder the Fox *might* become your wise and loyal companion, or he may merely be disarming you with his charming smile as he mentally undresses you for dinner!
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About the reviewer
Quinn Blackburn (Entwife)
Hello, my name is Quinn... yes, that really is my first name. :o) I also answer to Mom, and occasionally Entwife. I enjoy Beauty wherever I find it... Nature, Music, Art in all its forms... I believe … more
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Twenty-two retellings of classic fairytales such as "Hansel and Gretel", "Sleeping Beauty", and "The Emperor Who Had Never Seen a Dragon", from greats of the science fiction, fantasy, and horror worlds. Among the authors contributing stories are John Brunner, Gene Wolfe, Gahan Wilson, Joyce Carol Oates, Nancy Kress, Nancy A. Collins, Kathe Koja, Jane Yolen, and Tanith Lee.