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The Reading Jackalope

The Starlit Wood: New Fairy Tales

The Starlit Wood: New Fairy Tales - Navah Wolfe, Amal El-Mohtar, Charlie Jane Anders, Max Gladstone, Naomi Novik, Karin Tidbeck, Dominik Parisien, Sofia Samatar, Kat Howard, Seanan McGuire, Genevieve Valentine, Aliette de Bodard, Daryl Gregory, Stephen Graham Jones, Margo Lanagan, Marjorie M. Liu, Jeffrey Standout stories in this collection are: Valente's Badgirl, The Deadman, And the Wheel of Fortune, which I initially thought ended poorly but has continued to haunt me long after I finished the story. Seasons of Glass and Iron by Amal El-Mohtar, which takes two fairy tales and combines them into an amazing feminist story about love and how women rescue women. I think my favorite story though is Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik, which takes the Rumpelstiltskin story and simultaneously points out its rather antisemitic themes and then reclaims the story. For these stories alone, the book is worth it's price and there are stories I'm not listing here that were also just fabulous.

As with any collection, there were a few I wasn't impressed with. Even The Crumbs Were Delicious by Daryl Gregory attempted to reclaim the witch in Hansel and Gretel as the hero, however he recast the witch as a male in his story and earned some serious side-eye with that. The story is good, but well why try to reclaim the witch archetype and then remove one of the things which make her so reviled? I also wasn't fond of Charlie Jane Anders' story The Super Ultra Duchess of Fedora Forest, but I suspect that is mostly because Anders' writing just doesn't work for me. I don't enjoy it, I can see the skill and I can appreciate what she's doing, but I don't enjoy it.

In general this is a fairly feminist book, a lot of the stories tried to reclaim the more troublesome aspects of fairy tales and for the most part it works. I think if you like fairy tales, this might be worth a look. There are some stories in here that I wouldn't mind returning to and I would love an illustrated version of Spinning Silver. Most of the stories here are rather more adult, but that one would make such a good picture book for older readers.

Quick thoughts made after reading each story are are in the comments.