Beyond the Glass Slipper: Ten Neglected Fairy Tales To Fall In Love With by Kate Wolford

Rating: 4 of 5

Synopsis: “Some fairy tales everyone knows—these aren’t those tales…won’t leave novices of fairy tale studies lost in the woods to grandmother’s house, yet with a depth of research and a delight in posing intriguing puzzles that will cause folklorists and savvy readers to find this collection a delicious new delicacy.” (source)

From the Introduction: “Every tale is meant to engender thought and discussion…I am designing the introductions, questions and annotations to provoke readers.”

My thoughts: 10 lesser-known European fairy tales collected and annotated by Kate Wolford (Enchanted Conversation) for casual readers as well as students. Beyond the Glass Slipper will be most appreciated by those looking to discuss what they’ve read.

I recommend reading the fairy tale first, then its introduction, next the annotations, and finish up with the “Consider” section of the tale’s introduction.

Fairy tales included:
The Nixy
The Solider and the Vampire
The Three Pennies
Fairy Gifts
The Loving Pair
The Dirty Shepherdess
Gifts of the Little People
The Blue Light
King Pig
Kisa the Cat

Author’s website | Add on LibraryThing | Add on Goodreads | Buy direct from World Weaver Press

(Review cross-posted on LibraryThing and Goodreads.)

Opal by Kristina Wojtaszek

Rating: 4.5 of 5

Synopsis: “[A] retwisting of the classic Snow White tale in which the daughter of a snow owl must find her own identity while unraveling the story of her parents and her people.” (source)

My thoughts: Opal set itself apart from others by its premise and its vivid imagery. The main character is an animal transformed into a human just as her journey to the truth begins. Normally, in a fairy tale, getting turned into an animal is a curse the protagonist has to overcome by breaking a spell or accepting their true self. Not in this story, and that was only one of the twists in Wojtaszek’s fairytale-inspired fantasy.

I wasn’t sure if the alternating viewpoints (“Fire” for the owl-turned-human; “Stone” for the abused prince) would work for me, but ultimately, they did; I found switching between the two added a bit of tension and suspense as the owl-turned-human’s journey brought her ever closer to Prince Androw’s tale. All in all, an enjoyable story and I look forward to reading more by this author.

Why not a full 5 stars? I docked half a star because 20-30 more pages would’ve added more depth to three “chapters” of the story that felt a bit rushed.

Author’s website | Add on LibraryThing | Add on Goodreads | Buy direct from World Weaver Press

(Review cross-posted on LibraryThing and Goodreads.)

Wolves and Witches: A Fairy Tale Collection

Rating: 4 of 5

9780615763231Witches have stories too. So do mermaids, millers’ daughters, princes (charming or otherwise), even big bad wolves. They may be a bit darker…Happily-ever-after? Depends on who you ask. In Wolves and Witches, sisters Amanda C. Davis and Megan Engelhardt weave sixteen stories and poems out of familiar fairy tales, letting them show their teeth.”

My favorite of the collection was “Questing for Princesses” by Davis. It did what I like retellings to do: show me the other side of a fairy tale, and either go dark or go really funny. Different POVs, backstory, fractured viewpoints, whatever – I like to explore multiple versions, all the angles. In this story, the other side was a prince who thought it ridiculous to do all that just to snag a bride. That being fight dragons, treat a monster with TLC, search an entire kingdom for an anonymous chick who dropped her shoe, and so on.

The poem “A Shining Spindle Can Still Be Poisoned” by Davis explained why Sleeping Beauty was never a prince, and I might have to agree. 😉

A Mouth to Speak the Coming Home” by Engelhardt was a mash-up of Hansel and Gretel with other folklore, and the one story I wanted more of. I immediately fell into Maryn’s world and wished the story was longer!

The collection felt whole; it read like stories meant to be collected and presented together. I thought it quite clever to include side-by-side retellings of the same original. So yeah, I’d definitely read more by either of these authors.

(And how cool is it that they’re sisters?!)

Read excerpts on the publisher’s website.

(Review cross-posted on LibraryThing and Goodreads.)