Books

Recent Reading: Twists on Fairy Tales

It’s been a while since I discussed recent reading, mostly because I’ve been reading for awards consideration lately, which means not everything I read recently has really been according to my personal taste. But I have read a really lovely short story collection, The Starlit Wood, edited by Dominik Parisien and Navah Wolfe. This is a book of retellings of fairy tales, putting the familiar tales in different settings, sometimes even in different genres, mixing them up, putting a new spin on them. Some of the retellings are science fiction, some are still fantasy, but a different kind of fantasy. Some put the tales into a different culture.

I haven’t always been a big fan of short stories. If I’m really into a story and its characters, I want more, so I don’t find the short story very satisfying. However, I’ve recently rediscovered the form, and I enjoy being able to read a whole story, start to finish, in one sitting. It’s nice to read and complete something in my bedtime reading. This book was great for airplane reading on my recent trip, and then I finished the last few stories last week. The nice thing about a collection like this is that if one thing isn’t entirely to my taste, the next one probably will be.

You’ve probably heard of most of the authors in this collection, and one of the stories won the Nebula Award. What I enjoyed was trying to figure out which story was being retold — and it wasn’t always obvious. The authors’ notes about inspirations were put at the end of each story, which I appreciated. That allowed me to face the story on my own terms and try to figure it out before I saw what the author wanted to say. Of course, that makes it a challenge to discuss any particular story and what I liked about it without giving away the source, so I won’t.

I’d recommend picking up this collection if you’re a fan of fairy tales.

I have to say that reading it and thinking about what I’d have written if I were the kind of author who ever got invited to participate in this wort of thing has given me an idea for a story that I now want to play with. If they ever do Back to the Starlit Wood and think about inviting me, I’ll be ready.

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