Title: Red as Blood Collection
Author: Tanith Lee
In: Red as Blood (Tanith Lee)
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Dark fantasy, Fairy tales, Feminism, Retellings, Short story collections
Dates read: 23rd October – 17th December 2019
Format: Short story
5th sentence, 74th page: There were carvings in the sides of the tower, the magic symbols from the chamber as it had been, the zodiac, the Crown, the Sword, the Chalice – she knew such seals must hold the spire safely.
Here are ten devilishly twisted fairy tales as the Brothers Grimm never dared to tell them. With her brilliantly macabre pen, Tanith Lee retells some familiar tales, and concocts some new and unusual ones, as she asks us to consider the possibility that things may not work as our fairy tales have them… In the title story, Lee shows us a perfectly good stepmother, whose Princess stepdaughter reeks of evil. Then there is Ashella, the Cinderella-like girl who, “When the Clock Strikes”, intends to give her Prince Charming a deadly surprise. In “Wolfland”, Lisel takes a trip through the woods to visit her grandmother – who bears little resemblance to the loving old woman we expect. And in “Thorns” you’ll find the haunting answer to the question, “What if awakening the Sleeping Beauty turns out to be the mistake of a lifetime – of several lifetimes, in fact?”
Populated with demons and devils, vengeful gods and not-so-innocent young girls, the ten tales of Red as Blood weave a tapestry of chilling visions, spun by the incomparably fiendish imagination of Tanith Lee!
This is the second feminist collection of fairy tales I’ve ever read. And I don’t know if I like this or Angela Carter’s version better. What I do know is that I love both of them and I will read them again and again. They’re fun, kind of brilliant and super dark. Much more likely in our lives than the pretty Disney-versions that I grew up with.
There wasn’t one story in this collection that I didn’t absolutely adore. Normally I’ll find one or two that just aren’t as good… but that most certainly wasn’t the case. This was brilliant! Honestly, as I turned the last page, I could have quite happily turned around and just started this all over again. I didn’t, because I have a whole stack of other books I want to read by the end of the year… but I don’t often have that desire in the first place.
Now I need to find some more Tanith Lee books. I have one other sitting in my shelf, but I want so much more now! There is no way that I won’t love it after this. Especially when you’re looking at a story which has a beautiful wordplay on the Brothers Grimm… equally dark versions, but with a focus on the women and the battles that they face.