Top positive review
Truly grim and twisted fairy tales
Reviewed in the United States on February 19, 2021
Seventeen magical stories twisted by bestseller and award-winning authors that will entice you to the darker side — more Grimm than Disney — of faerie tales.
"Drawn to the Brink" (Painted World)
Devon Monk's "Yarrow, Sturdy and Bright" is a treat with the unexpected strength of women determined on a goal based on the Pied Piper. It follows the concept of the original tale but with a grimmer goal on the part of the piper.
Anthea Sharp's "Fae Horse" is a sad tale of sacrifice with a woman denounced as a witch by the fearful and yet she'll struggle to save her love's life.
Christine Pope's "The Queen of Frost and Darkness" is a tale I've heard before of young love stolen, suppressed but where sacrifice can bring him back. A chilly tale.
Yasmine Galenorn's "Bones" is not one of my favorites here. Probably because it has such a grim ending that comes to such a stop.
C. Gockel's "Magic After Midnight" is a modern twist on Cinderella. Even more of a twist was Joshua. It's a boy's name, but Gockel kept referring to him as if he/her were a girl. I have nothing against a transgender choice, but it was confusing. Other than that, this was a crack-up of a story that turned this story's selfish Cinderella over and out, lol.
Donna Augustine's "Dance with the Devil" is the standard tale of selling one's soul to the devil. Throughout the story, I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop...or should I say ballet slipper? It's that ending that surprised the heck out of me. Who knew such compassion could exist?
Annie Bellet's "No Gift of Words" is about bullying and the lengths to which this meanness can push a person. Like so much of what happens in our own world, when a person snaps from it, the results are not pretty. Well, in most cases, Afua does become beautiful but the angry witch curses her twice over. It's a hard case, but she does learn.
Audrey Faye's "The Grim Brother" is truly wicked with a brother who fears to speak out and reveal the truth of that day. Even as he watches her destroy life after life. A horror of a good story and quite the twist on Hansel and Gretel!
Danielle Monsch's "Beast Inside Beauty" is a modern tale of a police detective devoted to her work and forced to play politics due to her new reputation as a beauty for a charity calendar.
Jenna Elizabeth Johnson's "Faescorned" is a Morrigan tale and truly grim with a struggle between mother and son as well as a cursed struggle with betrayal, a geis, and power.
Tara Maya's "Drawn to the Brink" is a fascinating tale of drawing your own world, and Maya's title is quite literal as Sajiana's ability to draw, does indeed draw her to the brink, a creature of a picture. It's a chase, a kidnapping, a battle, and a release that will have you sighing. I do wish Maya had been clearer in defining a "brink".
Alexia Purdy's "The Variance Court" is an interesting tale of a Snow White who lost her father and is all alone while on another plane of existence is a college student frustrated with failing her exam. It's a family split by strife although the girls have no idea. It's a cute concept but...ehhh...I wasn't excited.
Phaedra Weldon's "The Morrigan" isn't a twist on a fairy tale so much as a twist on the tale of Tam Lin with Janet Bostwick making an appearance and the Morrigan being the Queen of Faery. It's power she seeks that can only come from Tam's hidden secret.
Julia Crane's "Alice" is a nasty, nasty twist on Alice in Wonderland! In this tale, Alice is a nasty, venomous tyrant who's in love with an unsuitable man. It's really only part of the story with Crane "promising" a continuation in "Down the Rabbit Hole". I hate it when authors do this. I have no idea what the prophecy is about.
Sabrina Locke's "Still Red" is a twist on Little Red Riding Hood from the perspective of a little old lady...Red. Still Red, no matter what that bossy activity director says. This was truly nasty and grim with Red being kidnapped, abused, and "imprisoned". I do wish Locke had included an explanation about the "feral trial attorneys". It certainly left me confused about the time period. I don't know if this was supposed to be metaphor or what??
Jennifer Blackstream's "The Final Straw" twists on Rumpelstiltskin and the bargain he made with the miller's daughter. Blackstream has me truly confused as to what world we're in when she talks about kingdoms, vampires, King Midas, and Midgard.
Alethea Kontis's "The Unicorn Hunter" is definitely topsy-turvy in this twist on Snow White that includes a demon and three unicorns. The twist comes with the happy-go-lucky, tra-la-la princess who is so incredibly clueless about evil. It takes a demon to point it out...
The Cover and Title
The cover is a black and white of snow and hazy trees with a sparkling silver title superimposed on top of the lone blonde woman wearing a red hooded cloak, a long train in front of her. At the top are the authors in white with a red marker separating the names. At the bottom is a bit of information in red informing us of the number of short stories within.
The title twists those fairy tales with a curse, for when it's Once Upon A Curse, who knows where that twist will take you.