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Black Thorn, White Rose MP3 CD – Unabridged, December 29, 2015
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The award-winning editors of Snow White, Blood Red return us to distinctly adult realms of myth and the fantastic—with 18 wondrous works that cloak the magical fictions we heard at grandma's knee in mantles of darkness and dread. From Roger Zelansky's delightful tale of Death's disobedient godson to Peter Straub's blood-chilling examination of a gargantuan Cinderella and her terrible twisted "art," here are stories strange and miraculous—remarkable modern storytelling that remold our most cherished childhood fables into things sexier, more sinister—and more appealing to grown-up tastes and sensibilities.
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About the Author
Ellen Datlow has been editing science fiction, fantasy, and horror short fiction for almost thirty years. She was the fiction editor of Omni magazine and Sci Fiction and has edited more than fifty anthologies. She has also won many awards for her work, including the Bram Stoker Award, the Shirley Jackson Award, and the Hugo Award, among many others.
Terri Windling (www.terriwindling.com) is an award-winning editor, artist, essayist, and author. She has edited more than thirty anthologies, many of them with Ellen Datlow, and has been a consulting editor for the Tor Books fantasy line since 1986. A former New Yorker, Terri now lives in a small country village in southwestern England with her husband, daughter, and a dog named Tilly.
- Publisher : Audible Studios on Brilliance Audio; Unabridged edition (December 29, 2015)
- Language : English
- ISBN-10 : 1511318910
- ISBN-13 : 978-1511318914
- Item Weight : 1.6 ounces
- Dimensions : 6.5 x 0.63 x 5.5 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #9,064,828 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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All in all, this book is probably my favorite in the series so far.
This was a version of Rumpelstiltskin. It was okay, had some darkness to it and a bit of a twist. In this version the woman wants Rumplestiltskin to take her child away.
“Stronger Than Time” by Patricia C. Wrede (4/5 stars)
A prince asks for a woodman’s help in breaching Sleeping Beauty’s castle. When they find the princess the woodcutter finds the prince is not what he seems to be. This was a decent story and very sweet.
“Somnus’s Fair Maid” by Ann Downer (4/5 stars)
I liked this one. It was a retelling of Sleeping Beauty done in Regency style. It was a fun story with an interesting twist. I struggled a bit with all the characters introduced in such a short story and the story jumped around quite a bit. However, overall I liked it.
“The Frog King, or Iron Henry” by Daniel Quinn (3/5 stars)
This was a very short story about a Prince who forgot he was a frog. Very repetitive and didn’t really like it much.
“Near-Beauty” by M.E. Beckett (3/5 stars)
A sci-fi “Princess and the Frog” sort of retelling. This time the princess falls for the frog. The story was a bit abrupt and was okay but not great.
“Ogre” by Michael Kandel (2/5 stars)
I wasn’t a fan of this one. It’s an off the wall story about a bunch of actors and one of them is an ogre. Didn’t really see the point of this one and could have left it.
“Can’t Catch Me” by Michael Cadnum (3/5 stars)
This was a story about a gingerman fleeing an oven, it was somewhat humorous but very short. I thought it was okay.
“Journeybread Recipe” by Lawrence Schimel (4/5 stars)
This was a clever little poem about how to make Journeybread. I liked the visualization and some of the cleverness in here.
“The Brown Bear of Norway” by Isabel Cole (4/5 stars)
This was a folktale style story set in the modern day world about a girl who is penpals with a bear in Norway. They fall in love and she eventually goes to find him only to find him changed. This is a well written and sweet story with good imagery.
A short introduction outlines the goal of the project: to "give fairytales back their teeth" by inviting a number of writers to reverse the bowdlerization of the original stories whilst keeping them recognizable as fairytales. According to Datlow and Windling: "The literary fairytale, 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 on which it is based. The pleasure lies in savoring the writer'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.
Despite this common theme, it is an eclectic mix: some stories are straightforward retellings, some transpose the original fairytales to updated settings, some tell the stories from an unexpected point-of-view, and some delve into the psychological depths of the inherent symbolism and themes of the old tales. Sleeping Beauty and Rumplestiltskin are popular choices for adaptation (both of them pop up more than once), but there are also new takes on The Gingerbread Man, The Princess and the Pea, The Musicians of Bremen, and Little Red Riding Hood.
I'll admit being partial to the stories that don't stray too far from the original tale or which get too surrealistic in their treatment of the source material, and since there are too many contributions I'll just mention some of my favorites. "Stronger than Time" by Patricia Wrede is a take on the Sleeping Beauty story that bases itself on the question: "what if the prince was late in reaching the sleeping princess?" whilst Ann Downer uses the same fairytale to tell a sweet little Regency romance in the style of Georgette Heyer.
Tim Wynne-Jones takes the relatively little known "Goose Girl" and tells it from the prince's point-of-view (it may help if you're familiar with the original fairytale) in order explore what he knew and how he felt about his false bride, and Jane Yolen puts a new spin on Rumplestiltskin in "Granny Rumple" by shifting the setting to a Jewish ghetto and giving it a tragic twist.
"Silver and Gold" by Ellen Steiber is a beautiful little poem based on Little Red Riding Hood that explores the allure of the wolf and justification for why Little Red couldn't tell him apart from her own grandmother. Finally, Storm Constantine's "Sweetly Bruising Skin" is my absolute favourite of the collection; in fact I read it twice over just to absorb it properly. Taking the premise of the "princess test" from The Princess and the Pea, the story is not only significantly expanded upon but told from an unexpected point-of-view. The Queen Mother is fond of her young son and sympathetic when he refuses to marry out of duty, so goes to her alchemist and requests that he conjure up a suitable match for him. A few nights later, during a terrible storm, a beautiful young vagabond appears. To prove herself a princess, she is made to sleep on a pile of mattresses to see whether she can feel the dried peas far beneath her.
Yet passing the test is only the beginning of the story. Though the Queen's daughter-in-law was initially languid and rather stupid, she now begins to show signs of cunning and manipulation - and also grave illness that can only be cured by the alchemist. The Queen Mother grows alarmed as to what exactly she's brought into her kingdom, and nobody can be trusted as she tries to get to the bottom of the mystery. In parts funny, suspenseful, surprising and heart-breaking, this was by far the cream of the crop (at least in my opinion).
The difficulty with the anthologies in this series (there are at least seven now) is that the criteria required for a story's inclusion is quite broad. This means that even though each of them are based on fairytales, they differ radically in style and theme. Inevitably, you're going to get some stories that you love, and some that you detest. Had the editors perhaps narrowed the conditions a little bit, there would be more of a central theme running throughout the collection, and a sense of greater consistency. On the other hand, such a wide range of tales raises your chances that you'll find at least one story that you really love, so by all means read for yourself and happy hunting!