4-star quick review: Once Upon a Curse (Yasmine Galenorn, editor)

once upon a curseReally exceptional collection of tales. I wouldn’t call all of them “dark” (many have happily ever afters, after much grief), but each is wonderful in being a memorable and DIFFERENT take on either a traditional fairy tale, or an entirely new story.

Writing a new fairy tale is incredibly different, and story after story here creates new ways of weaving the cruel with the magical in lovely ways. In an industry where fairy tales are retold a hundred times a day in “new” ways, it’s refreshing to read 17 tales that all feel like they have something new to say. Too often, fairy tale retellings are just a rehash of the same retelling that’s been done a hundred times — ooo, the “ugly” stepsister is actually just a misunderstood heroine in her own way! or what if the same story was set in MODERN day! shocking!! — which isn’t necessarily BAD, I read a lot of them, but when the retelling doesn’t have something new to say or point out about the original tale, what’s the point in the retelling?

Due to the shortness of so many of the stories in this book, the characters are often subsumed under the requirements of quickly-moving plots and atmosphere, but many of the images haunt me still and that’s exactly what I want in a good grisly fairy tale.

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