Tag Archives: Black Thorn White Rose

Black Thorn, White Rose edited by Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling

Overview
Image result for black thorn white rose book cover

Title: Black Thorn, White Rose
Author: Ellen Datlow, Terri Windling, Nancy Kress, Patricia C. Wrede, Ann Downer, Daniel Quinn, M.E. Beckett, Michael Kandel, Michael Cadnum, Lawrence Schimel, Isabel Cole, Tim Wynne-Jones, Midori Snyder, Jane Yolen, Howard Waldrop, Roger Zelazny, Peter Straub, Ellen Steiber, Storm Constantine & Susan Wade
Series: Adult Fairy Tales #2
In: Black Thorn, White Rose (Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling)
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Fairy tales, Retellings, Short story collections
Dates read: 12th February – 25th May 2020
Pace: Medium
Format: Anthology
Publisher: Prime Books
Year: 1994
5th sentence, 74th page: Thank you for your last letter, which reached me before I set off.

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Synopsis

The award-winning editors of II Snow White, Blood Red II return us to distinctly adult realms of myth and the fantastic with eighteen wondrous works. From Roger Zelazny’s delightful tale of Death’s disobedient godson to Peter Straub’s blood-chilling look at a gargantuan Cinderella, here are stories strange and miraculous that remold our most cherished childhood fables into things sexier, more sinister… and more appealing to grown-up tastes and sensibilities.

Thoughts

After reading Snow White, Blood Red, I knew that I needed the other books which were edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling featuring fairy tale retellings. Because these aren’t the retellings that you would expect. And they’re not the kinds of retellings that make you feel all nice and fluffy on the inside. They’re dark and twisted in places. Sexual in others. And just downright make you think most of the time.

Many of the authors in this collection are ones that I have already come across. Which is something I most certainly enjoyed. A few were totally new to me. Enough to make me wonder who I would be coming across next, but not so much that I felt like I had a whole slew of new people to add to my shelves. Rather, it was a fair few authors who are already in my wishlist…

I love the constant returning to fairy tales that were reminiscent of the Grimm Brothers. It’s a nice little departure from the more common fairy tales that I find. And other than Rumpelstiltskin and Red Riding Hood, the vast majority of these fairy tales were of the lesser known variety. Which suited me perfectly. I like those more abstract stories at times.

<- Mr. Simonelli or the Fairy WidowerWords Like Pale Stones ->

Image source: Goodreads

The Black Swan by Susan Wade

Overview
Image result for black thorn white rose book cover

Title: The Black Swan
Author: Susan Wade
In: Black Thorn, White Rose (Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling)
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Fairy tales, Retellings
Dates read: 25th May 2020
Pace: Fast
Format: Short story
Publisher: Prime Books
Year: 1994
5th sentence, 74th page: One night she was so late returning that alll the stable lads had gone and I had been excused from my duties at table – I had progressed to such responsibilities only that summer – and gone to my loft for the night.

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Synopsis

All he ever wanted to do was help her win her heart’s desire. But even once she accomplishes that, things don’t go quite as planned. The unveiling of the beautiful Black Swan.

Thoughts

One of the suckiest things about being a woman is this whole idea around beauty – what makes a woman beautiful. What the expectations of beauty are. So on and so forth. It’s kind of horrible and seriously annoying. And this story is a great example of just how wrong things can go when we are constantly told that what and who we are just isn’t good enough.

I love that this short story / retelling of a classic fairy tale has the more traditional tragic ending. There is no joy and happiness in this story. There is nothing like and fluffy. Rather, it is just a whole heap of tragedy all bundled up into one tale. It really makes your heart bleed. And, the very final scene makes an amazing final scene for the ending of this collection…

The Black Swan is a gorgeous little short story. It also has a fantastic voice as a narrator. I love that there is so much foreshadowing for future tragedy throughout. And there’s this constant commentary on what a beauty the woman is, before she undergoes her transformation. And just a genuine wonder and concern as to why she would go through such a horrible thing when she is already wonderful and perfect as she is. Something I think we all need to remember.

<- Sweet Bruising SkinBlack Swan, White Raven ->

Image source: Goodreads

Sweet Bruising Skin by Storm Constantine

Overview
Image result for black thorn white rose book cover

Title: Sweet Bruising Skin
Author: Storm Constantine
In: Black Thorn, White Rose (Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling)
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Dark fantasy, Fairy tales, Retellings
Dates read: 24th May 2020
Pace: Medium
Format: Short story
Publisher: Prime Books
Year: 1994
5th sentence, 74th page: She smiled continually in the presence of others, nodded often, but spoke little of herself.

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Synopsis

This magnificent retelling of The Princess and the Pea is dark, twisting and not at all what you would expect. Filled with fantastic fairy tale tropes and a world of manipulation.

Thoughts

This is my second (I think) Storm Constantine short story. It has that same sense of mystery and darkness as the first story I read. This great feeling of manipulation and comeuppance throughout that is kind of impossible to forget. The strength of women – not one of the more glowing, benevolent strengths, but that dark one we can all harness shines throughout this story.

The lead voice in this story is not the kind of woman I have ever dreamed of being. Or wanted in my life. But I do love stories like this. She not only has found a way to completely harness her own son to her, but also manipulate every single circumstance that comes their way. It’s horrifying and somewhat evil feeling. But it is also really, seriously great. And when the tables are turned… I gave a somewhat gleeful cackle of joy.

Although this story features two incredibly scary and manipulative women, it also has a nice little titbit at the end. One where the ties of sisterhood are realised and acknowledged. It might be a nice happy ending, but it is one in which everyone realises what they wanted in life.

<- Silver and GoldThe Black Swan ->

Image source: Goodreads

Silver and Gold by Ellen Steiber

Overview
Image result for black thorn white rose book cover

Title: Silver and Gold
Author: Ellen Steiber
In: Black Thorn, White Rose (Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling)
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Fairy tales, Poetry, Retellings
Dates read: 20th May 2020
Pace: Medium
Format: Short story
Publisher: Prime Books
Year: 1994
5th sentence, 74th page: is it any wonder I went deeper and deeper into the green trees?

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Synopsis

A beautiful poem that investigates the reasons why we tend to follow the wolf off of the trodden path.

Thoughts

I absolutely loved this poem adaptation to Little Red Riding Hood. It’s not generally one of my favourite fairy tales – so many plot holes, but this one kind of took those into account. It questioned how you wouldn’t know that the shape in the bed was the damn wolf. It questioned why you would follow a wolf into the woods.

But, mostly what I loved about this poem was the fact that it had a much more adult take on the fairy tale. It was about following things that you just know aren’t good for you. But you’ll follow that anyway, it’s how we learn after all.

This is a great, easy to follow poem. There are hidden layers throughout it. But there is also a great and obvious storyline at the forefront too.

<- AshputtleSweet Bruising Skin ->

Image source: Goodreads

Godson by Roger Zelazny

Overview
Image result for black thorn white rose book cover

Title: Godson
Author: Roger Zelazny
In: Black Thorn, White Rose (Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling)
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Death, FamilyFantasy
Dates read: 17th May 2020
Pace: Slow
Format: Short story
Publisher: Prime Books
Year: 1994
5th sentence, 74th page: I keep it in my pocket.

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Synopsis

Morrie is not your average godfather. And he’s not one that you should cross… until David finds a way.

Thoughts

This story seriously made me think about a Discworld novel. I THINK it was Mort. The personification of death, his presence in a young man’s life and just the general humour which comes with such a story. Alright, it also painted death as somewhat cruel and petty. But mostly, I really enjoyed the light humour which wove it’s way through this short story.

I vaguely remember the original fairy tale upon which this short story was based. And I’m fairly positive it didn’t have the same happy ending that this one had. Instead of being a horrible, cruel ending… there was a nice sense of life coming full circle and the happiness of family being completed. I actually really liked that this had a happier ending… it was a nice change to some of the other fairy tales in the Black Thorn, White Rose collection.

This short story is about death, life and, sometimes risking it all because you love someone. It’s a good short story that left me feeling happy and complete at the end of the story. I actually kind of loved this tale, and the more I think about it, the more I love it.

<- The Sawing BoysAshputtle ->

Image source: Goodreads

The Sawing Boys by Howard Waldrop

Overview
Image result for black thorn white rose book cover

Title: The Sawing Boys
Author: Howard Waldrop
In: Black Thorn, White Rose (Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling)
Rating Out of 5: 3.5 (Liked this)
My Bookshelves: Fairy tales, Music, Retellings
Dates read: 15th May 2020
Pace: Slow
Format: Short story
Publisher: Prime Books
Year: 1994
5th sentence, 74th page: It was well into the afternoon.

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Synopsis

They’re a surprising music group. One which will take all of the competitors by surprise.

Thoughts

I didn’t get hugely into this short story, but it was quaintly enjoyable. There was just something about it that felt comfortable and familiar. Although, I’m still not quite sure which fairy tale this was based on…

I love the idea of the saw boys as musicians. That the underdogs and those whom are generally considered as “tough” are the men who make some really nice music and ?I think? win the day. Like I said, I didn’t hugely get into this story, so it’s hard to recall the details when I’m writing this review.

As a short, nice little break from life. This is a great break. As something that I will read again. Maybe not. It’s the kind of story that you enjoy while reading it, but don’t really remember afterwards. And honesty, there is nothing wrong with that.

<- Granny RumpleGodson ->

Image source: Goodreads

Granny Rumple by Jane Yolen

Overview
Image result for black thorn white rose book cover

Title: Granny Rumple
Author: Jane Yolen
In: Black Thorn, White Rose (Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling)
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Fairy tales, Retellings
Dates read: 12th May 2020
Pace: Slow
Format: Short story
Publisher: Prime Books
Year: 1994
5th sentence, 74th page: Story tells us that the little devil, the child stealer, the black imp was thwarted.

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Synopsis

A different take on an old classic. And somehow, so much more believable.

Thoughts

As always, I seriously enjoyed Yolen’s style of writing in this short story. There is always this sense of humour and wit that works its way into her writing. However, this time it wasn’t so overt… but mostly covert and intense. And seriously, seriously witty. Particularly when it’s a story based around Rumpelstiltskin…

Although the beginning of this story starts with an amazing dose of wit and humour, it does quickly become toned down. Quickly changes to a story that hits you a lot harder in the heart than was expected. Ending, this story also left you with a seriously powerful message that keeps you contemplating the “truth” behind the fairytales.

The fact that this story uses Jews in a past setting when they were villainised, and I’m actually currently researching hate crimes… it seems like fantastic timing. It’s awful, tragic and seriously hurtful. Made me think again and again of the minorities which are still viewed in the villainous role that we place characters like Rumpelstiltskin. Which I think was the entire point of this short story…

<- TattercoatsThe Sawing Boys ->

Image source: Goodreads

Tattercoats by Midori Snyder

Overview
Image result for black thorn white rose book cover

Title: Tattercoats
Author: Midori Snyder
In: Black Thorn, White Rose (Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling)
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Fairy tales, Retellings
Dates read: 11th May 2020
Pace: Fast
Format: Short story
Publisher: Prime Books
Year: 1994
5th sentence, 74th page: I think I shall retire now.

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Synopsis

A fantastic retelling of a classic fairy tale… with a more adult spin.

Thoughts

This is one of those retellings that is reminiscent of a number of fairy tales that I’ve read. Which was a nice journey. It’s definitely a fairy tale / retelling that I have always enjoyed, so I was excited to read this. And, boy, I wasn’t disappointed by this retelling. Not only was it a great fantasy retelling, but it was also a great tale about rediscovering your love and your life after that initial honeymoon period is over… something that I think is often overlooked in many stories we read.

The story of the woman with the three dresses and the way in which she wins her loves’ heart is one that I seriously treasure. Especially after reading North Child. This isn’t quite that story, but it does have those great echoes, and it is the story about her daughter. The daughter who also found her own happily ever after. But, after childbirth and years being comfortable with your spouse, things are less romantic and infatuated. Which is kind of sad, but something I think that everyone who ahs been in a long term relationship experiences. The woman in this uses the gifts of the past that her mother gave her to set about recapturing her husbands’ attention and affections. Although, the responsibility for this is not just on her, she isn’t the only one who has let her relationship slip, and she’s not the only one who decides to fight to get it back.

At the beginning of this story, I loved the way in which the woman drew her husband back into her arms. Then, towards the middle I started to get a little worried. She was happy because she had her husband back, but then, he didn’t know it was her… but, the ending made all of this became obsolete and there was a happily ever after. And the awkward feelings went away.

<- The Goose GirlGranny Rumple ->

Image source: Goodreads

The Goose Girl by Tim Wynne-Jones

Overview
Image result for black thorn white rose book cover

Title: The Goose Girl
Author: Tim Wynne-Jones
In: Black Thorn, White Rose (Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Fairy tales, Retellings
Dates read: 7th May 2020
Pace: Slow
Format: Short story
Publisher: Prime Books
Year: 1994
5th sentence, 74th page: But I responded passionately.

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Synopsis

There’s always two sides to a story… including the one about the Goose Girl.

Thoughts

The Goose Girl is one of those fairy tales where I really, really loved the original story. The idea of the villain in the story pronouncing her own death… well, of course it intrigued me immediately. What I didn’t expect was that I would love a story in which the villain really wasn’t the villain… it was all just an accident of fate and an intriguing story. One that had a seriously tragic ending… but was still very, very good.

This was a very dark villain version of a classic fairy tale. Sometimes these retellings from the villains’ point of view make you feel sympathy… instead, this short story just made me feel uncomfortable and unsettled with all of the characters in the original. There was almost no sympathy for anyone. It was just a tale of tragedy after tragedy. One that never had a happy ending or a happily ever after. Which is somehow a lot more like real life…

Only in writing this review have I realised a few more things about this short story that really hadn’t jumped out at me before. But to write them in my review would be giving something away… so you’ll just have to read it and then see if you are quicker than me in realising what the extra layer of secrets are!!!

<- The Brown Bear of NorwayTattercoats ->

Image source: Goodreads

The Brown Bear of Norway by Isabel Cole

Overview
Image result for black thorn white rose book cover

Title: The Brown Bear of Norway
Author: Isabel Cole
In: Black Thorn, White Rose (Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling)
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Fairy tales, Retellings
Dates read: 26th April 2020
Pace: Medium
Format: Short story
Publisher: Prime Books
Year: 1994
5th sentence, 74th page: Perhaps I only loved New York because there were so many people there from somewhere else.

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Synopsis

She had a penpal in Norway, but one night, when she betrayed his trust, everything disappeared. A long trip later, and she finally finds out what it means to be in love.

Thoughts

The story of East of the Moon, West of the Sun is one of my favourite lesser known fairy tales. It’s what the story of North Child is based on. So finding another short story retelling of this was incredibly exciting and seriously beautiful. Especially when the journey starts in New York City with a teenager on the cusp of adulthood, and ends in Europe with two people who have finally found what it is to be an adult…

If the introduction to this story didn’t mention that it was a coming of age tale, then I possibly wouldn’t have noticed. However, as the story unfolds, you do begin to recognise the hints of what it truly means t grow up. What it means to understand what love actually is (instead of what we wished it was) and take responsibility for our own actions. Yet, this is done in such a subtle way that it does take a little bit before you truly notice it.

This was a great, sweet and easy read. One that I’m a little disappointed was over. But, it did work perfectly. There is just something so captivating about this modern day coming of age and travelling so very, very far to find the one that you love…

<- Journeybread RecipeThe Goose Girl ->

Image source: Goodreads