Tag Archives: Jane Yolen

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

Sirens and Other Daemon Lovers edited by Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling

Overview
Image result for sirens and other daemon lovers book cover

Title: Sirens and Other Daemon Lovers: Magical Tales of Love and Seduction
Author: Ellen Datlow, Terri Windling, Storm Constantine, Delia Sherman, Joyce Carol Oates, Tanith Lee, Edward Bryant, Garry Kilworth, Michael Swanwick, Elizabeth E. Wein, Pat Murphy, Ellen Steiber, Jane Yolen, Dave Smeds, Neil Gaiman, Doris Egan, Melissa Lee Shaw, Kelley Eskridge, Brian Stableford, Conrad Williams, Mark W. Tiedemann, Ellen Kushner, Wendy Froud & Bruce Glassco
In: Sirens and Other Daemon Lovers (Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Lust, Paranormal fantasy, Paranormal romance, Short story collections
Dates read: 6th January – 19th May 2020
Pace: Slow
Format: Anthology
Publisher: EOS
Year: 1998
5th sentence, 74th page: She abruptly saw herself as if from another’s eyes, toiling in dirty work clothes with the sharp blades, the mirror, the powdered remains.

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Synopsis

Prepare to be seduced by powerful magic — the sorcery of lust, need, and sensuality. Multiple award-winners Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling have gathered together twenty-two tales of unearthly temptations wickedly concocted by some of today’s most potent literary conjurers — including Neil Gaiman, Jan Yolen, Michael Swanwick, and Joyce Carol Oates. Here are stories of incubi and succubi, of forbidden fruits harvested in erotic gardens, of pleasures that persist beyond death. So heed the sirens’ song. Lie back, relax, and submit to the darkest delights you have ever experienced.

Thoughts

This collection isn’t quite toe curling, it isn’t quite horrific, but a nice mix between the two. It makes you think about the weirdness of sexuality. And the uniqueness of those things that go bump in the night. And thrive upon our sexual, deepest, darkest desires. I was honestly expecting this to be a little more of an uncomfortable read. However, mostly, I just found it intriguing.

This is a great collection of some very familiar authors, and some very new authors. It was a good way to depart from the realities of the world and be entertained by the imaginations of some very creative people. It wasn’t necessarily my favourite collection ever, the thread tying each of these tales together wasn’t as distinct as other collections. But it was a seriously enjoyable journey regardless.

This is definitely a collection that I’ll pick up again at some point in the future. It’s fun, light and easy. Also, there are a number of authors that I still need to hunt out books for… I enjoyed each and everyone of these stories.

<- ToadMy Lady of the Hearth ->

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

Bird Count by Jane Yolen

Overview
Image result for sirens and other daemon lovers book cover

Title: Bird Count
Author: Jane Yolen
In: Sirens and Other Daemon Lovers (Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling)
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Lust, Twisted romance
Dates read: 10th March 2020
Pace: Fast
Format: Short story
Publisher: EOS
Year: 1998
5th sentence, 74th page: The thing about Lewis was that even when we were together I was alone.

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Synopsis

She’s stuck in a dead end relationship. One that is just easy and comfortable. With absolutely no passion. Until she finds the man… no hawk… of her dreams.

Thoughts

This was a kind of intense story. Which, considering what Yolen’s work is like… I shouldn’t have been so surprised. Yet, it also struck kind of a great cord with me. After all, it was about finding your own happily ever after. Not the expected one, but one which actually makes you happy.

The single minded obsession of a scientist is one that I recognise. It is intense and kind of terrifying at times. At least, I find it a little terrifying how single minded I can be when I fall down the rabbit hole of something that I love. It was interesting reading a short story which talks about the flipside of that coin. The partner and person who loves such a man. Someone who is an extreme of the example… but still eerily familiar.

If you don’t take the “romance” in this story too literally, then it’s incredibly beautiful. If you take it a little more literally… it’s not as beautiful, but still quite potent. Definitely the kind of story that got me seriously thinking… and contemplating. Again and again and again. I look forward to rereading this one in the future.

<- In the Season of RainsA Wife of Acorn, Leaf, and Rain ->

Image source: Goodreads

Queen Victoria’s Book of Spells edited by Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling

Overview
Image result for queen victoria's book of spells ellen datlow book cover

Title: Queen Victoria’s Book of Spells
Author: Ellen Datlow, Terri Windling, Delia Sherman, Jeffrey Ford, Genevieve Valentine, Maureen McHugh, Kathe Koja, Elizabeth Wein, Elizabeth Bear, James P. Blaylock, Kaaron Warren, Leanna Renee Hieber, Dale Bailey, Veronica Schanoes, Catherynne M. Valente, Ellen Kushner, Caroline Stevermer, Jane Yolen, Gregory Maguire, Tanith Lee & Theodora Goss
In: Queen Victoria’s Book of Spells (Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling)
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Fantasy, GaslampShort story collections
Dates read: 8th June – 6th November 2019
Pace: Slow
Format: Anthology
Publisher: Tor
Year: 2013
5th sentence, 74th page: The sisters and I said nothing to one another, as I speak no German and they no English, but we watched the flames together until they seemed satisfied and departed, I know not where.

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Synopsis

Gaslamp fantasy, or historical fantasy set in a magical version of the nineteenth century, has long been popular with readers and writers alike. Many wonderful novels, such as Stardust by Neil Gaiman, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke, and The Prestige by Christopher Priest, ower their inspiration to works by nineteenth-century writers, including Jane Austen, the Brontes, Charles Dickens, and Anthony Trollope. And, of course, the entire steampunk genre and subculture owes more than a little to literature from and inspired by this period.

Queen Victoria’s Book of Spells is an anthology for everyone who loves neo-Victorian fiction and modern fantasists using vintage settings, characters, and themes. Their approaches stretch from steampunk fiction to the Austen- and Trollope- inspired works known as fantasy of manners. The result is eighteen stories by experts from the fantasy, horror, main-stream, and young-adult fields, including both bestselling writers and exciting new talents, who present a bewitching vision of a nineteenth century enhance (or cursed!) with magic.

Thoughts

This is an absolutely brilliant collection. One that I didn’t want to put down and introduced me to a whole new genre. It’s my first ever Gaslamp collection, and although I found some of the stories throughout a little weird and intense… I also loved the vast majority of them. Enough so that I plan to read this again and again in the future.

I was expecting a pretty simple and balanced collection. I really wasn’t expecting such a convoluted and twisted set of stories. But, as I’ve often found in life, it’s those unexpected surprises are the best and most exciting aspects of life. They’re the moments that you don’t want to forget because they were unplanned. And this anthology kind of felt like that.

I tend to read a lot of short stories late at night. Or when I’m just needing a quick little break from the many complexities of my PhD. This is not the collection that does that for me. It’s seriously intense, completely unexpected and very full on. The kind of short stories that you want to read when you have your concentrating brain working… not when it’s late at night and you just want some easy entertainment…

 <- Poe ReviewQueen Victoria’s Book of Spells Review ->
Image source: Amazon

The Jewel in the Toad Queen’s Crown by Jane Yolen

Overview
Image result for queen victoria's book of spells ellen datlow book cover

Title: The Jewel in the Toad Queen’s Crown
Author: Jane Yolen
In: Queen Victoria’s Book of Spells (Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling)
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: GaslampHistorical fiction
Dates read: 29th October 2019
Pace: Medium
Format: Short story
Publisher: Tor
Year: 2013
5th sentence, 74th page: He realized then how foolish he had been, playing about with kabalistic magic.

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Synopsis

A great historical rendition of Queen Victoria’s unique friendship with her Prime Minister and the journey they took to reach an understanding.

Thoughts

This story didn’t end at all as I expected. But it did make me realise that it is probably based on a true story. Which just makes it all the more fun – after all, who doesn’t like a cute little reimagining of a true, historical friendship?

I was expecting a truly dark story at the beginning. One in which the Queen is somehow overtaken and turned in a way that would be detrimental to her kingdom. (Don’t look at me like that, it does happen). Yet, it was kind of sweet, cute, and funny in the end. Alright, there were moments of darkness and slight insanity… but it was mostly enjoyable.

Sometimes it’s nice to read a story that features a male and female and just ends in friendship. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good romance, but that isn’t the only way that people of opposite sexes can interact. The fact that this friendship came from a kind of magical place, and an understanding of each others’ loss was thoroughly enjoyable. And not the kind of short story that I’m going to forget any time soon.

 <- The Vital Importance of the Superficial ReviewA Few Twigs He Left Behind Review ->
Image source: Amazon

Kwaku Anansi Walks the World’s Web by Jane Yolen

Overview
Image result for coyote road book cover

Title: Kwaku Anansi Walks the World’s Web
Author: Jane Yolen
In: The Coyote Road (Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Poetry, Tricksters
Dates read: 17th October 2019
Pace: Slow
Format: Short story
Publisher: Firebird Fantasy
Year: 2007
5th sentence, 74th page: Kwaku Anansi, and tell us a tale.

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Synopsis

A poem that explores the intircacies and trickeries of Kwaku Anansi.

Thoughts

This is a quick, sharp pithy little poem. Each line had few words and made the poem flow with a quick beat. Which was perfect for a poem which featured the trickster Anansi. After all, tricksters are always portrayed as quick, nimble and intense characters. They don’t stay still for long, and they’re constantly on the move. Kind of like this poem.

I truly love Jane Yolen’s poetry – it is always so multilayered. I know that I could read this again and again, and find something new and exciting each and every time. Even though this is a simpler and quicker poem than I am used to, there are still layers of trickery that I really enjoyed. Especially when reading late at night with the lights down low… it just added an extra bit of atmosphere.

Anansi is a spider trickster god, and this poem certainly spun a web. It was intricate and beautiful. Yet, when you looked beneath the surface – uncomplicated. Definitely one that I will enjoy reading again in the future.

 <- The Dreaming Wind ReviewThe Evolution of the Trickster Stories Among the Dogs of North Park After the Change Review ->
Image source: Amazon

Snow White, Blood Red edited by Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling

Overview
Image result for snow white, blood red book cover

Title: Snow White, Blood Red
Author: Ellen Datlow, Terri Windling, Susan Wade, Charles de Lint, Gahan Wilson, Nancy Kress, Tanith Lee, Wendy Wheeler, Kathe Koja, Gregory Frost, Elizabeth A. Lynn, Harvey Jacobs, Steve Rasnic Tem, Melanie Tem, Caroline Stevermer, Ryan Edmonds, Neil Gaiman, Leonard Rysdyk, Esther M. Friesner, Jack Dann, Jane Yolen, Patricia A. McKillip & Lisa Goldstein
Series: Adult Fairy Tales #1
In: Snow White, Blood Red (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: 17th December 2018 – 12th April 2019
Pace: Slow
Format: Anthology
Publisher: Signet
Year: 1993
5th sentence, 74th page: It’ll still mean that I’m willing to let someone die, just so I can have my own way.

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Synopsis

Snow White, Blood Red is a brand new collection of fairy tales. But be warned. It is not a collection for the faint-hearted. Or even one to lull the innocent towards the sleeping realms of dreams. For Snow White, Blood Red is a modern book of wonders: a boundless expanse of nightmares, lusts and fables for the grown-up child in us all.

Through richly imaginative retellings of existing fairy tales, twenty-one of the world’s top fantasy authors recreate the full mythical, magical, mind-bending power of humankind’s oldest fables. Prepare to be seduced by stories that bite – stories that are frightening, erotic, dark and compelling. Because as Terri Windling reminds us in the introduction: ‘Something still stirs inside us when we hear those old, evocative words: Once upon a time.’ Only this time, in this world, there is no happy ending…

Thoughts

I’ve had this book on my wish list for a very, very long time. So, when I finally managed to find a second hand copy and get it delivered to my door, I couldn’t wait to sink my teeth into it. After all, I love fairy tales, I like stories with a dark twist, and I’m fascinated by retellings and the ways in which people are able to twist and turn classic themes to fit a more contemporary or recognisable setting. Which makes this kind of the perfect short story collection to sit on my shelves.

Some of the stories in this collection are kind of dark and twisted. Some are incredibly sexual. And some are just a great, contemporary retelling that makes childish fairy tales far more relatable. I got goosebumps reading some of these stories. While others left a smile on my face. You know it’s a fantastic collection when it takes you through the rollercoaster of emotions and leaves you feeling incredibly happy at the close of the last page.

Anybody who loves fantasy, horror or fairy tales, this is a great collection to add to your shelves. It is one that I won’t be getting out of my head anytime soon, that’s for sure…

<- Taking LoupLike a Red, Red Rose ->

Image source: Amazon

Mad Hatters and March Hares edited by Ellen Datlow

Overview
Image result for mad hatters and march hares ellen datlow book cover

Title: Mad Hatters and March Hares
Author: Ellen Datlow, Kris Dikeman, Delia Sherman, C. S. E. Cooney, Jane Yolen, Priya Sharma, Richard Bowes, Stephen Graham Jones, Jeffrey Ford, Angela Slatter, Matthew Kressel, Seanan McGuire, Andy Duncan, Kaaron Warren, Ysabeau S. Wilce, Genevieve Valentine, Catherynne M. Valente & Katherine Vaz
In: Mad Hatters and March Hares (Ellen Datlow)
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Retellings, Short story collections, Wordplay
Dates read: 22nd December 2018 – 29th March 2019
Pace: Slow
Format: Short story
Publisher: Tor
Year: 2017
5th sentence, 74th page: Beyond it were the cells.

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Synopsis

From Master Anthologist Ellen Datlow comes an all-original book of weird tales inspired by the strangeness of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There.

Between the hallucinogenic, weird, imaginative wordplay and the brilliant mathematical puzzles and social satire, Alice has been read, enjoyed, and savored by every generation since its publication. Datlow asked seventeen of the most brilliant and acclaimed writers working today to dream up stories inspired by all the strange events and surreal characters found in Wonderland.

Thoughts

I began my obsession with Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland in childhood, but kind of forgot about it until the last year – when I finally got around to reading the original story! And then my obsession began to take a bit of a turn for the… well, obsessive… so I bought this collection as soon as I found it. And opened the page within days of receiving it.

This collection takes all of the many aspects of Alice in Wonderland and turns them around and around until your dizzy. From cute poems, to horrific ideals about Alis and retellings of particular aspects of the original. This collection of short stories and poems has it all. And it is just impossible to put down!

My only piece of advice with this amazing collection is to maybe not read these tales when you’ve been drinking. I tried a few times and it just makes you feel incredibly tripped out. And confused. And just not really sure where reality is situated… kind of like the original.

 <- Children of the Fang ReviewGentle Alice Review ->
Image source: Bookdepository

Run, Rabbit, Run by Jane Yolen

Overview
Image result for mad hatters and march hares ellen datlow book cover

Title: Run, Rabbit, Run
Author: Jane Yolen
In: Mad Hatters and March Hares (Ellen Datlow)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Poetry
Dates read: 29th March 2019
Pace: Slow
Format: Short story
Publisher: Tor
Year: 2017
5th sentence, 74th page: when the dogs caught his scent.

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Synopsis

Why must the rabbit run? How does he truly work into the world of Alice?

Thoughts

This isn’t one of my favourite poems. It isn’t one of those that sticks with me. But it was a fun and interesting journey. A great way to finish a fantastic collection. Easy, and engaging without making me think too hard.

I loved that the Mad Hatters and March Hares collection both started and ended with a poem. Both are light and funny. Interesting. A great way to think about a classic in an entirely different way.

The rabbit is such an iconic aspect of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and you can understand completely why he caught Yolen’s attention. What a great way to finish such a fun journey… I just don’t have the words beyond that.

<- Moon, and Memory, and MuchnessThe Monstrous ->

Image source: Bookdepository