Fantasy legend Jane Yolen presents a wide-ranging offering of fractured fairy tales. Yolen fractures the classics to reveal their crystalline secrets, holding them to the light and presenting them entirely transformed; where a spinner of straw into gold becomes a money-changer and the big bad wolf retires to a nursing home. Rediscover the tales you once knew, rewritten and refined for the world we now live in―or a much better version of it.
I’ve been a fan of Jane Yolen’s short fiction for many years, so it was a delight to sit down with this new collection of re-told fairy tales.
It can be a bit difficult to review short fiction collections as there will be, inevitably, some stories that connect more with you as a reader than others. I find that a true here as well, but that comes down to personal taste; every story was well-crafted and what I’ve come to expect from Jane Yolen’s writing. The stories vary quite a bit in tone, but they all have that common thread of putting a new spin on timeless stories. One of the things that fascinated me the most with this collection is seeing how the style of writing varies from story to story. Jane Yolen has an impressive array of devices in her writer’s toolbox; she truly is a master of her craft.
Here are just a few of the stories that I really loved in this collection:
- Granny Rumple – This is a play on that famous tale, Rumpelstiltskin. It’s a bit of a frame story in that it’s narrator is telling the story passed down in their family about a Jewish moneylender in Ukraine several generations ago. It’s one of the tales steeped with history, things that shouldn’t be forgotten.
- Brother Hart – Such a strange tale, but deeply moving, and I’m still thinking on it weeks after having read it!
- One Old Man, with Seals – I loved this story so much, I think it has to be my favorite in the entire collection. The protagonist is a senior woman who is living out her retirement in an old lighthouse when a mysterious stranger shows up on the rocks one day. I love the POV character and what this story says about aging.
Honestly, I could go on and on about the wonderful stories included in this volume, but I’d encourage you to check it out and experience them for yourself instead. 4/5 stars.