The Starlit Wood: New Fairy Tales by Dominick Parisien and Navah Wolfe
Saga Press, 2016
Available: Hardcover, paperback, Kindle edition
The editors of The Starlit Wood challenged writers to choose a fairytale and view it through a dark crystal, choosing a new context to hang over the bones of the original story. In some cases, elements of the original stories were removed, and in others, transformed. Seanan McGuire, Catherynne M. Valente, Garth Nix, Karin Tidbeck, Naomi Novik and Stephen Graham Jones, among others, contributed, so I’m not surprised at all by the quality of writing. The originality and unsettled feelings stirred up by these stories will intrigue fairytale lovers, but you don’t have to be familiar with the fairytale behind each story to thoroughly enjoy the collection.
Outstanding stories include Stephen Graham Jones’ “Some Wait”, a tale of disappearing children and parental paranoia and disintegration that has crawled into my brain to take up permanent residence; Seanan McGuire’s “In The Desert Like A Bone”, a supernatural, magical realist Western; Karin Tidbeck’s “Underground”, which lights the way in showing how a person can be literally trapped in an abusive relationship; Charlie Jane Anders’ “The Super Ultra Duchess of Fedora Forest”, set in a bizarre dystopia of talking animals and breakfast meats; Amal El-Mohtar’s “Seasons of Glass and Iron”, in which two women are able to set each other free; and Kat Howard’s “Reflected”, a science fantasy grounded in mirrors, snow, love, and physics.Every story in the collection plays with the tropes of fairytales from diverse sources and cultures, creating the sense of disquiet and magic that we expect from fairytales, with more darkness and dimension. Highly recommended for lovers of fairytales, short stories, and unsettling, genre-crossing tales. If you enjoy the stories of Kelly Link, you’ll definitely want to try these.
Contains: drug use, violence, abusive behavior and relationships, implied child sexual abuse.