edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling
Years ago as a teenager I read several of these books, collections of adult fairy tale writings by various authors, all with cover illustrations by Tom Canty and edited by Terri Windling. When I saw this copy of Snow White, Blood Red at the Book Thing, I recognized it as one I hadn't read yet, and brought it home expecting something curious and fun. I don't know what has changed, but I don't remember the stories being so dark and sensual. Maybe my memory is dim, maybe I glossed over or didn't understand those passages when I was younger? But several of the tales in this collection were so blatantly s-xual they made me uncomfortable and I had to skip them outright. (Yes, I'm something of a prude). If this is an example of gothic fiction then I'm not sure I like it at all, and may reconsider the werewolf and vampire stories that have made their way onto my TBR recently.
I did enjoy reading the introduction by Datlow, which explains that fairy tales ("about ordinary men and women in extraordinay circumstances") were originally not intended for children at all, and had much darker, more violent implications and endings than the pap we see Disney regurgitating today. Out of the twenty-one stories, my favorites were "Like a Red, Red Rose," "Troll Bridge" and "The Snow Queen."
The writers include Charles de Lint, Susan Wade, Tanith Lee, Jane Yolen, Patricia McKillip, Lisa Goldstein and many more, who "have produced richly imaginative retellings of existing fairy tales, as individual as the authors themselves, penned for a contemporary, adult audience... [set in] a time not so long ago, in a land much like our own, with no guarantee of safe travel, timely rescue or of ending Happily Ever After. Much like life itself." (p.20) They are strange and dreamlike, and don't shy away from the darker side of human nature. Deliciously frightening at times, if you want to curl up under a blanket and explore stories of wild imagination that sometimes feel a little too close to home...
Rating: 3/5     Published 1993, pp 411