Tag Archives: Tanith Lee

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.

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

Wolfed by Tanith Lee

Overview
Image result for sirens and other daemon lovers book cover

Title: Wolfed
Author: Tanith Lee
In: Sirens and Other Daemon Lovers (Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling) & Redder Than Blood (Tanith Lee)
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Fairy tales, Lust, Retellings
Dates read: 6th January 2020
Pace: Fast
Format: Short story
Publisher: EOS
Year: 1998
5th sentence, 74th page: But then, anyway, the elevator was a private one and this was the penthouse suite, so it would be kind of unlikely he had taken the wrong route, or made any mistake at all.

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Synopsis

Wolf is a man of the night. Then he runs into Rose, a gorgeous young woman who just wants to buy her “grandmother” a present…

Thoughts

I’ve just finished reading Lee’s Red as Blood collection. So I was kind of expecting something much, much darker than this story. It was incredibly lustful and intense in some ways, but it definitely wasn’t something I would call dark. There was also a point at the end which hints that they could, in fact, live happily ever after.

Actually this story didn’t just have a hint about happy endings, it had multiple. And pushed the boundaries of what I enjoy in a romance. This is the second story I’ve read which features a threesome, but, unlike the first one, I found this non-confronting. Actually, I found it kind of cute, funny and sweet in moments. Which was a very interesting reaction.

This was a fantastic short story. One that I will probably revisit in the future. There is just something fun about it, even when it’s dealing with a lot of sexuality. Maybe it’s because I’m reading a collection that deals with sexuality, but not in the truly intense way of Alien Sex.

<- Broke Heart BluesAshes on Her Lips ->

Image source: Goodreads

Red as Blood Collection by Tanith Lee

Overview
Image result for red as blood tanith lee book cover

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
Pace: Medium
Format: Short story
Publisher: Wildside
Year: 1983
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.

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Synopsis

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!

Thoughts

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.

 <- The Waters of Sorrow ReviewPaid Piper Review ->
Image source: Amazon

The Waters of Sorrow by Tanith Lee

Overview
Image result for red as blood tanith lee book cover

Title: The Waters of Sorrow
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: Fairy tales, Fantasy, Ghosts
Dates read: 17th December 2019
Pace: Slow
Format: Short story
Publisher: Wildside
Year: 1983
5th sentence, 74th page: Without some attention it must have been easy to miss the spot.

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Synopsis

Along the river there are the women who were destroyed by love. The women who find men on a long, dark night and dance him to death. But there is another story at the water of sorrows that needs to be told.

Thoughts

As an ending to the Red as Blood collection, this short story was completely on point. It was, interestingly enough, also the only romantic story in the whole collection. So, I kind of liked that it ended on this note. Don’t get me wrong, it was still super and dark like all of the other fairy tale retellings in the collection, but the romantic aspect made it a little more bittersweet and somehow nostalgic… I slightly (but only slightly) softer note to end on.

This was the last story I read before going to bed. And it was kind of perfect. Something about the surreal nature of the storyline and the atmosphere that sweeps you along actually worked really well when I was home alone late at night. The betrayed women late at night, dancing their deathly dance. The mystery of the young girls death… everything combined in such a brilliant way to create an unforgettable tapestry. One which worked in with the dark of outside and the time of the night.

I’m normally fairly good at predicting what is going to happen in the future… not so much in this story. There were enough hints throughout that you’re curiosity was peeked, but I never actually did predict the ending. There were just so many misleading moments throughout. Which of course, moves this to the top of my short story favourites pile… I love being drastically mislead throughout a story!

 <- Beauty ReviewRed as Blood Collection Review ->
Image source: Amazon

Beauty by Tanith Lee

Overview
Image result for red as blood tanith lee book cover

Title: Beauty
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: Aliens, Fairy tales, Retellings, Science fiction
Dates read: 17th December 2019
Pace: Medium
Format: Short story
Publisher: Wildside
Year: 1983
5th sentence, 74th page: There were no words at all.

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide
Synopsis

When the rose arrives, the family must give up one of their own. When her time comes, she finds that maybe this new home with an alien being could be exactly what she was missing in her life. A beautiful, science fiction retelling of Beauty and the Beast.

Thoughts

I’ve been enjoying Beauty and the Beast retellings lately. I have never read one which is this intense though. And a SciFi version to boot. And it was just a short story! Beauty is brilliant, fun and gives an entirely new take on an old classic. Unlike most short stories that I fall this in love with though, I actually was happy with the length. I didn’t feel like it had to be expanded and added to. I didn’t think that it actually needed to be longer, it was kind of perfect all on its own.

I love that the “beast” in this story is an alien. Part of a race that is giving, helpful and constantly providing for humanity. But, the cost is that eventually some families have to give up their own child. There is so much mystery to this practice that you spend most of the tale just wondering why this is the case. And when the face of the beast is finally revealed to the young woman, what you believe is entirely wrong. It’s a great mislead and just makes it all that much more impossible to put the story down. This might be why I was happy for it to be short… I don’t know if I could sustain that kind of intensity.

As much as I’ve tried to convey the pure amazingness of this story, I don’t actually think I have the right words. Anywhere. In anyway, shape or form. Which is completely new for me. There is just something about this retelling that left me feeling in awe as the final page was closed. Happy, in awe and just fascinated.

 <- Black as Ink ReviewThe Waters of Sorrow Review ->
Image source: Amazon

Black as Ink by Tanith Lee

Overview
Image result for red as blood tanith lee book cover

Title: Black as Ink
Author: Tanith Lee
In: Red as Blood (Tanith Lee)
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves:  Easy reading, Fairy tales
Dates read: 14th December 2019
Pace: Slow
Format: Short story
Publisher: Wildside
Year: 1983
5th sentence, 74th page: You hear me?

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide
Synopsis

When Victor sees the woman of his dreams across the lake, he becomes infatuated. That is, until he meets the uncle. Years later, he runs across the same girl. And discovers that she has become black as ink.

Thoughts

Unlike the rest of the short stories in the Red as Blood collection, this is not a retelling of any fairy tale that I recognise. Yet, there was still that lilting, fairy tale feel to the tale that made me feel like almost, almost this could be a story which I’ve read before. If I could just remember it… that’s how it felt anyway.

As with many of the stories in this collection, the ending to this was a little tragic. Actually, something about the poetic sweetness of the ending made it all that much more unfortunate. Especially since at the beginning you kind of believe that this could be a love story… hint. It’s not. It’s something… darker about our hidden instincts and desires. The ones that are black as ink.

Like the rest of the short stories in this collection, Black as Ink is kind of dark. A little bit twisted. And a really, really enjoyable read. One that I will probably pick up again in the future when I don’t want / need all those happily ever afters that tend to fill my shelves.

 <- Wolfland ReviewBeauty Review ->
Image source: Amazon

Wolfland by Tanith Lee

Overview
Image result for red as blood tanith lee book cover

Title: Wolfland
Author: Tanith Lee
In: Red as Blood (Tanith Lee)
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Fairy tales, Horror, Retellings
Dates read: 8th December 2019
Pace: Medium
Format: Short story
Publisher: Wildside
Year: 1983
5th sentence, 74th page: Gradually, then, the voices of the other wolves began to dull, eventually falling quiet.

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Synopsis

In “Wolfland”, Lisel takes a trip through the woods to visit her grandmother – who bears little resemblance to the loving old woman we expect.

Thoughts

This was a really cool Red Riding Hood retelling. Not the kind I was expecting, but certainly an enjoyable one. I kind of totally adored this and was really sad that it was over so soon. I could imagine an entire saga created about this version of Red Riding Hood. And I would most definitely read it.

A bit of a spoiler here… but I loved the fact that Grandma was actually the big bad wolf… of a sorts. And her reasons for becoming such a scary beast were absolutely on point!!! Even though it was a little bit scary…

Although I seriously loved this short story, I was still completely horrified by it. Particularly the ending. Which is probably why I keep wishing that this was a bigger series.

 <- The Princess and her Future ReviewBlack as Ink Review ->
Image source: Amazon

The Princess and her Future by Tanith Lee

Overview
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Title: The Princess and her Future
Author: Tanith Lee
In: Red as Blood (Tanith Lee)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Dark fantasy, Fairy tales
Dates read: 1st December 2019
Pace: Slow
Format: Short story
Publisher: Wildside
Year: 1983
5th sentence, 74th page: But such an idea was foolish.

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Synopsis

All she wants is to know what her future holds… but it’s not the shiney, happy ending that she’s hoping for.

Thoughts

One of the things about the more traditional fairy tales that I don’t love is the fact that the women always want a husband, and that husband always ends up being the one rescuing her. Not so in this story. She gets in trouble because she’s trying to find out who it is that she’s going to marry in the future. The answer is certainly not one that she wanted… and there’s a certain level of trickery which leads to quite a tragic ending.

This is a seriously creepy and dark little fairy tale. I’m not entirely sure if it’s based on an original that I haven’t read before. But mostly, it was just a really creepy fairy tale which makes me want to lock all the windows and doors… there was just something particularly dark about this story.

I did thoroughly enjoy the fact that a lot of this story is built of webs of trickery, lies and deceit. Yet, in the end, the villain doesn’t actually lie – he just spins the truth to suit a certain view of the world.

 <- The Golden Rope ReviewWolfland Review ->
Image source: Amazon

The Golden Rope by Tanith Lee

Overview
Image result for red as blood tanith lee book cover

Title: The Golden Rope
Author: Tanith Lee
In: Red as Blood (Tanith Lee)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Dark fantasy, Fairy tales, Retellings
Dates read: 9th November 2019
Pace: Slow
Format: Short story
Publisher: Wildside
Year: 1983
5th sentence, 74th page: The moon rose late upon the walled garden.

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide
Synopsis

Jaspre was bought before she was born. But her childhood has been idealistic and pure. Until the true purpose of her life is revealed and a more sinister tie is shown.

Thoughts

This short story is a creepy, dark and kind of devilish version of Rapunzel. The prince doesn’t climb up the tower to reach her. In fact, there isn’t really any prince. But there is still a seduction of a form and a woman who keeps a foundling child trapped for some nefarious reason. The nefarious reason in this story is just far more intense and dark than other versions I’ve read of this tale.

As with many of the fairy tales that I’ve read, virginity and purity are major themes. Normally it’s a lot more subtle than in this story. After all, in this version, she is raised purposely sweet and pure so that she will lovingly sacrifice herself to the prince of darkness. Which just seems all the darker and more twisted than a normal virginal sacrifice… maybe because she’s raised to go to it willingly. With no true concept of pain.

There is a bit of a happily ever after in this story. It wasn’t even remotely what I expected. But, apparently it was kind of everything that I wanted. Definitely enjoyable and almost impossible to forget. I look forward to rereading this in the future when I want my fairy tales with just a dash of darkness.

 <- When the Clock Strikes ReviewThe Princess and her Future Review ->
Image source: Amazon

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.

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…

<- PoeQueen Victoria’s Book of Spells ->

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