Tag Archives: Troll’s-Eye View

Troll’s-Eye View edited by Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling

Overview
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Title: Troll’s-Eye View
Author: Ellen Datlow, Terri Windling, Delia Sherman, Garth Nix, Wendy Froud, Nina Kiriki Hoffman, Peter S. Beagle, Ellen Kushner, Joseph Stanton, Holly Black, Jane Yolen, Nancy Farmer, Michael Cadnum, Catherynne M. Valente, Midori Snyder, Neil Gaiman & Kelly Link
In: Troll’s-Eye View (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, Villains
Dates read: 12th December 2018 – 1st March 2019
Pace: Medium
Format: Anthology
Publisher: Firebird Fantasy
Year: 2009
5th sentence, 74th page: I could have wept.

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Synopsis

Everyone thinks they know the real story behind the villains in fairy tales – evil, no two ways about it. But the villains themselves beg to differ. In this book you’ll hear from:
the Giant’s wife from “Jack and the Beanstalk”
the oldest of the Twelve Dancing Princesses
Rumpelstiltskin
the witch from “Hansel and Gretel”
someone called Evil Cinderella

Just watch these old stories do new tricks!

Thoughts

This is an incredibly easy, fun and engaging short story collection. It takes some brilliant authors who take you on journeys through well known fairy tales. The fact that these retellings all focus on the villains of the stories just made me love it even more. I always love the highlighting of grey areas and alternate tellings.

Troll’s-Eye View is a collection that is written for a very young age group. It’s simple and quaint. Easily accessible and fun. But, that doesn’t mean that as an adult you can’t enjoy it. There was nothing I enjoyed more than sitting down at the end of a long day and reading one of these short stories or poems. It was a great, fun and quick escape from the real world at a time when I’ve been really quite overwhelmed and stressed.

Most of my anthologies and collections contain only novellas and short stories. Troll’s-Eye View also has poems. They were enough to break up the flow throughout the story and leave you with a smile on your face.

 <- Why Light? ReviewWizard’s Apprentice Review ->
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The Cinderella Game by Kelly Link

Overview
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Title: The Cinderella Game
Author: Kelly Link
In: Troll’s-Eye View (Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Easy reading, Family
Dates read: 2nd March 2019
Pace: Medium
Format: Short story
Publisher: Firebird Fantasy
Year: 2009
5th sentence, 74th page: He opened his mouth to explain everything, but Darcy got there first.

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Synopsis

Two step-siblings decide to play the cinderella game… with some interesting consequences.

Thoughts

My mother always taught me that it takes two to tango… and that idea carried through in her rearing of us, every time my sister and I got into a huge fight, we’d generally both get in trouble. So I kind of liked the fact that this story was about two (step) siblings who are playing a slightly sinister game and arguing. There are no good guys and bad guys in this story. But rather, a mix of motives that inform one another.

From the name of this story, I thought that the child who played the evil stepsister was going to do something kind of horrible. Then they started talking about evil Cinderella and I was expecting some seriously weird things to start happening. But it didn’t. I wasn’t uncomfortable at this tale, and I actually thought it was kind of cute. A promise for a future in which they could all live together happily, or one in which they would have a not-so-happily ever after. It could go either way.

This was a great story to end the Troll’s-Eye View collection on. It didn’t have a villain or a hero. There was no right or wrong. Instead, it had a vagueness in which everyone had a little bit of good and a little bit of bad in it…

 <- Observing the Formalities ReviewTwists of the Tale Review ->
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Observing the Formalities by Neil Gaiman

Overview
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Title: Observing the Formalities
Author: Neil Gaiman
In: Troll’s-Eye View (Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling) & Trigger Warning (Neil Gaiman)
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Poetry, Retellings, Villains
Dates read: 1st March 2019
Pace: Slow
Format: Poem
Publisher: Firebird Fantasy
Year: 2009
5th sentence, 74th page: Dull, useless things.

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Synopsis

The entire issue with Aurora’s birthday is that no one decided to observe the formalities. And we all know how this story eventually ends…

Thoughts

I absolutely loved this poem. Although Maleficent (or the evil fairy from Sleeping Beauty) has always seemed kind of a terrifying villain, she’s also been the one that I relate to the best. Well, maybe not relate to, but understand. After all, she is retaliating against an incredible slight. Plus, there are so many beautiful retellings in the world now which make her seem far less evil, and just… misunderstood.

Which is probably why I love this poem so much. It highlights the faux pas that was made in “observing the formalities”. And instead of feeling like a tale of an evil witch, it is more about someone who really likes the rules. Which an organise freak like me can completely relate to…

 <- Molly ReviewThe Cinderella Game Review ->
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Molly by Midori Snyder

Overview
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Title: Molly
Author: Midori Snyder
In: Troll’s-Eye View (Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Fairy tales, Villains
Dates read: 1st March 2019
Pace: Medium
Format: Short story
Publisher: Firebird Fantasy
Year: 2009
5th sentence, 74th page: He smiled for the first time in weeks.

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Synopsis

In the stories, the child outwitting the giant is a hero. But what happens when Molly just wants to outwit him out of her own greed?

Thoughts

As a child I always admired the children who could overcome the giants in the fairy tales. After all, they’re triumphing over someone and something far bigger and scarier than they are. But, the older I get, the more I realise that children are not necessarily always in the right. And, sometimes they are actually kind of in the wrong… and apparently Snyder agrees with this sentimentality.

You know that the story is a good one when you feel really sorry for the character who would typically be the villain. You know that it’s even better when you actually think that the cute little kid should be nailed into a big box and thrown down the river. Considering this is in a children’s book and about a not-so-good child, well, it kind of offers the chance to see things from multiple points of view from a young age.

 <- A Delicate Architecture ReviewObserving the Formalities Review ->
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A Delicate Architecture by Catherynne M. Valente

Overview
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Title: A Delicate Architecture
Author: Catherynne M. Valente
In: Troll’s-Eye View (Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling)
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Fairy tales, Food, Villains
Dates read: 27th February 2019
Pace: Medium
Format: Short story
Publisher: Firebird Fantasy
Year: 2009
5th sentence, 74th page: He gave me a slice of honeycomb and shooed me into the garden, where raspberries grew along the white gate.

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Synopsis

Constanze has always wanted to go to Venice with her father, but when opportunity finally knocks, she finds that not everything is as it seems.

Thoughts

I’ve never really questioned why there was a gingerbread house in Hansel and Gretel. Or why it seems to be something that is repeated across fairy tales. After all, it is a really impractical and useless way in which to make a house. And it kind of seems just… sticky to live in.

Valente was able to give a completely plausible reason for the building of a gingerbread house. And a completely understandable way in which the wicked witch from Hansel and Gretel turned out the way that she did… everything about this story just helped to create a reality in which the well-known fairy tale actually makes sense. After it had first poked the holes in it.

As much as I loved this story, it also made me feel kind of sad. The father betrays and then forgets his daughter. She is left unloved, unremembered and just completely stranded. All so he can regain the fame and fortune that he once had.

 <- ‘Skin ReviewMolly Review ->
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‘Skin by Michael Cadnum

Overview
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Title: ‘Skin
Author: Michael Cadnum
In: Troll’s-Eye View (Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling)
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Easy reading, Fairy tales, Villains
Dates read: 19th February 2019
Pace: Fast
Format: Short story
Publisher: Firebird Fantasy
Year: 2009
5th sentence, 74th page: I breathed metaphors into the nodding poet’s ear.

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Synopsis

Rumplestiltskin has always seemed such an odd name for one of the “fair folk”, but was it his real name? Here Michael Cadnum offers an alternative point of view to the classical fairy tale.

Thoughts

I never quite realised how weird a name ‘Rumpelstiltskin’ is. It’s just a name that has always been. But when you read a cute little short story about how odd that is, you start to realise that it is quite an absurd name…

There were two things that I loved about this short story.

The first was the fact that Rumpelstiltskin started out as kind of a benevolent figure. He is constantly helping and assisting others towards a greater future. This is so completely at odds with the original and my understanding of him that I was kind of taken aback. Even his assistance of the girl spinning straw into gold came from a good place. It was just her attitude that turned it into something more sinister.

I don’t like the idea of eating babies. I thought I should start with that, since I actually loved the fact that a baby was eaten in this story… it kind of seemed like justice to the annoyances of the previously thought of victim of the story. A poetic kind of revenge.

 <- Castle Othello ReviewA Delicate Architecture Review ->
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Troll by Jane Yolen

Overview
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Title: Troll
Author: Jane Yolen
In: Troll’s-Eye View (Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Fairy tales, Villains
Pace: Medium
Format: Short story
Publisher: Firebird Fantasy
Year: 2009
5th sentence, 74th page: But Troll, having no imagination, could not fathom what that splash and crash meant.

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Synopsis

Troll is small and doesn’t have much imagination. But that doesn’t stop him from making sure he has a decent meal every once in a while.

Thoughts

There’s something about trolls that is always… I guess amusing. Probably because they are often cast as dumb, lumbering and far south of thoughtful. And, this short story really doesn’t do anything to dispel those ideas. What it does do is take a creature that is traditionally gross and smelly and making him… well, kind of cute.

Although Troll is still kind of a villain in this story (he keeps eating others), it’s hard to dislike him. That very cute, dopey characterisation makes him seem like just a happy bystander to the eating of the goats and other creatures. It doesn’t make it feel like a story in which there is really a bad guy or a good guy. Rather a young fool trying to survive, and a heap of other fools who keep going near him…

 <- The Boy Who Cried Wolf ReviewCastle Othello Review ->
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The Boy Who Cried Wolf by Holly Black

Overview
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Title: The Boy Who Cried Wolf
Author: Holly Black
In: Troll’s-Eye View (Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling)
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Fairy tales, VillainsWerewolves
Pace: Fast
Format: Short story
Publisher: Firebird Fantasy
Year: 2009
5th sentence, 74th page: There was barely any wind, and the swells were small.

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Synopsis

When a young lad sniffs a flower, he quickly finds out that not everything he reads about in books is fiction. Will he have what it takes to save his family?

Thoughts

While I really enjoyed this short story, what bumped up my great opinion of it was Black’s explanation for why she wrote it in the first place. On childhood vacations, she often wished that she could turn into a wolf and eat her family – so she wrote about a boy who could. And, honestly, who hasn’t felt like that on a family vacation?

This was a fun, easy and quick read. It took the idea of a boy who doesn’t quite fit in and twisted and turned it into a tale that was a little bit scary, a little bit about being right and a lot about family. It has that darkness that I tend to associate with Holly Black and one that I thoroughly enjoy.

 <- Puss in Boots, the Sequel ReviewTroll Review ->
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Puss in Boots, the Sequel by Joseph Stanton

Overview
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Title: Puss in Boots, the Sequel
Author: Joseph Stanton
In: Troll’s-Eye View (Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Fairy tales, Poetry
Pace: Fast
Format: Poem
Publisher: Firebird Fantasy
Year: 2009
5th sentence, 74th page: that his former master barely discerns

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Synopsis

Why didn’t such a smart cat outsmart his owner? Well, maybe he did.

Thoughts

I don’t think I’ve read the original tale of Puss in Boots. Although I have read a few retellings over time, and I thought that doing new take on an old classic using a poem was a quaint and attractive way in which to do so. This was quick, sharp, shiny and straight to the point. It was also well written, fun and great at highlighting the triumph of beast over man.

One of the things that I love about poems is the way in which a single page, or a few lines can quickly get the point across. If this tale was told in prose form, it would take at the very least a few pages of writing, not the quick, and descriptive wording that is conveyed in poetry.

 <- The Shoes That Were Danced to Pieces ReviewThe Boy Who Cried Wolf Review ->
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Castle Othello by Nancy Farmer

Overview
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Title: Castle Othello
Author: Nancy Farmer
In: Troll’s-Eye View (Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Easy reading, Fairy tales
Dates read: 17th February 2019
Pace: Fast
Format: Short story
Publisher: Firebird Fantasy
Year: 2009
5th sentence, 74th page: His skin –

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Synopsis

When a strange man comes to town, one sister thinks that she’s found the answer to her happily ever after. But, all is not as it seems and it may take the gumption of her sister to help her escape the trap she has set for herself.

Thoughts

I haven’t yet had the chance to read the original Bluebeard fairy tale (I don’t think). But I did thoroughly enjoy Angela Carter’s retelling. So it was kind of fun to read a far more innocent and simpler retelling. One in which the villain suddenly becomes something completely different and offers an entirely new perspective to an otherwise dark and twisted tale.

Where Carter’s retelling is about the woman triumphing in a way that she wasn’t able to in the original, Farmer’s is about retelling the story from an entirely different point of view. She almost Disney-fied the tale. And sometimes that just frustrates me, yet this worked kind of beautifully. Not only by intertwining historical facts, but also in keeping to many of the key themes that seem to run through these two stories.

Castle Othello is a completely innocent story. One that, surprisingly, instead of frustrating me was thoroughly enjoyable. And I was actually quite sad to turn the last page on such a sweet, happy ending.

 <- Troll Review‘Skin Review ->
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