Top critical review
Scattered in tone
Reviewed in the United States on November 8, 2018
This collection of fairytale retellings had a common thread of 'fracturing' stories, and all of them have been published elsewhere earlier. Some of them are easily recognizable for sources in European fairytales, like Snow White, Cinderella, another a Snow White-Cinderella mash-up, a couple have been changed to make events allegorical while other have been changed to make the metaphorical into the literal. There is, however, the little problem that when you look at the book at a whole, it is disparate in terms of tone, settings, themes and even sources. Some stories have a middle grade like writing, other more suitable to adult fiction, some have silly and exaggerated stories, while others are darker in nature and fraught with hidden meanings; I know it is because each of them were written for some other themed anthology, but putting it all together here felt very distorted. You can go from a cute story about a fat Cinderella to a time travel one involving concentration camps, and as an anthology it feels hastily put together. Additionally, the author notes and poems for each story setting came at the end of the novel, when it would have been better to follow the story. Even on the most basic question of whether I enjoyed reading this anthology or not? I would say it mostly bored me; at one point, I just wanted it to end. That's not to say there aren't brilliant stories in there; there were more than a few that I felt were superb if I judged them as standalones, like the retelling of St George and the dragon, or the Rumpelstiltskin retelling (although, I feel Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik does it better), or the Proteus-inspired one, but there are also many that, well, sucked. A lot of them didn't really challenge the sources, and still kept a lot of the misogynistic tones of the stories in place (this may be me spoiled on recent anthologies that have featured diverse characters, feminist themes, and all) when there were good opportunities to subvert them. Also, and this is a very minor point, I was irked by the misspellings of nogitsune and Sidhe as nogitsone and Sithe respectively.
Overall - some individual stories stand out but the book as a whole feels chaotic and vague.