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Red as blood; or, tales from the Sisters…

Red as blood; or, tales from the Sisters Grimmer (1983)

by Tanith Lee

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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597916,431 (4.11)18
Recently added byAndyMD, bookwormelf, RedQueen, avidbirdreader, private library, skullduggery, lottpoet
  1. 20
    The bloody chamber and other stories by Angela Carter (guyalice)
    guyalice: Both are very dark collections of fairy tale retellings from master storytellers.

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I had to hunt this one down after the Cinderella story was included in a college anthology of Children's Lit. The stories are so rich and vivid you can practically taste them. Lee's version of 'The Frog Prince' is particularly remarkable and a little terrifying at the end. Well worse the hassle it took me to get my hands on a copy. ( )
  sweetzombieducky | Feb 14, 2014 |
*note to self.copy from Al.
  velvetink | Mar 31, 2013 |
The first Tanith Lee I read, this collection of retold fairytales sparked in me a love for the story turned on its head, the tale told from a different point of view, or the reinterpretation of the familiar. It's also fun, in that way real, gruesome, bloody folk tales are fun. ( )
  Murphy-Jacobs | Mar 30, 2013 |
Godliness is next to more Godliness, apparently. This collection of fairy tale re-imaginings could have been good--a lot of her ideas are excellent and I'd love to see them in the hands of a better writer--but I only got through about half the stories in this collection. And of those six or so, five were varying degrees of allegory, usually of the "wicked person worships SATAN and GOD won't save you then." A little too much in the Christian tradition for me, particularly when the stories were set in distinctly non-Christian eras/places. Any more ham-handed and it would need mittens of bread and mustard. ( )
  librarybrandy | Mar 29, 2013 |
Tanith Lee's writing is beautiful, detailed and descriptive, she transforms these fairy tales and transports them into historical time periods, and in the last case, the future. My favourite was the final story, a science fiction retelling of Beauty and the Beast, but there are several strong pieces here and amazing writing.

Piper Paid - Cleci is a peasant girl living in Lime Tree, a village which worships a rat-diety. They are visited by a young musician who is more than he seems, a real god, a god of love, but moved to cruelty by the viciousness and avarice of mankind.

Red as Blood - Snow White set in fourteenth century Europe. The stepmother, the Witch Queen with her potions and magic mirror is good, the daughter, Bianca, some form of vampire. Beautifully written, and interesting for its lovely medieval-religious imagery.

"The second Queen gave Bianca a tiny crucifx of golden filigree. Bianca would not accept it. She ran to her father and whispered, 'I am afraid. I do not like to think of Our Lord dying in agony on His cross. She means to frighten me. Tell her to take it away.'" (p.19)

And the good Witch Queen calls upon Lucifel, here an angel, brother of Christ, sufferer of much pain, who aids her in her poisoning of the vampire-girl. The charming prince, when he does appear, takes the form of Christ. "On his wrist was a mark. It was like a star. Once a nail had been driven in there." (p. 27)

Thorns - Sleeping Beauty, from the perspective of the prince, this time a wandering, ragged and disowned prince. He discovers the remnants of the kingdom that exists beneath the terrible castle covered by impenetrable vines - a sad and desolate people who have forbidden any needles or any knives, anything sharp with which to prick a finger, for a hundred years without even remembering why. When he manages to get passed the thorns and break the spell it is still bittersweet as the princess is someone from another time, lost and ghostly.

When the Clock Strikes - Cinderella, set in sixteenth century Europe, one of my favourites of the collection. In this version, the heroine is the daughter of a noble lady who's family was overthrown and slaughtered by usurpers. The woman becomes a witch and trains her daughter as a witch, to get revenge upon the new ruling family. A very different version of the tale, with a sinister Cinderella - here, Ashella.

"She wore a gown of apricot brocade embroidered thickly with gold. Her sleeves and the bodice of her gown were slashed over ivory satin sewn with large rosy pearls. Pearls, too, were wound in her hair that was the shade of antique burnished copper. She was so beautiful that when the clock struck, nobody spoke. She was so beautiful it was hard to look at her for very long." (p.49)

The Golden Rope - a retelling of Rapunzel in which the girl, Jaspre, is raised by a witch who is breeding her to be a willing consort and sacrifice to the Prince of Darkness. But Lucifer/Bel/Angemal is quite different from what even the witch thinks.

The Princess and Her Future - an Asian-inspired tale. I can not place the original. A princess unwittingly awakens a demon residing in a cistern in an old, closed-off temple.

Wolfland - another strong story, a retelling of Red Riding Hood set in ninteenth century Scandinavia. Lisel, a fashionable young girl, must travel to the northern forests where her eccentric recluse of a grandmother lives, her grandmother who controls the family fortune. Grandmother's estate is surrounded by wolves and at first Lisel is alarmed, but then she learns her grandmother's history - after suffering horrific abuse at the hands of her husband, Lisel's grandmother ate a special flower of the wood that transforms her into a werewolf. Not as stupid as I make it sound with that summary, it is really very good and quite chilling.

Black as Ink - one that I didn't particularly care for, a retelling of the Swan Princess with a morose and dispassionate young man and an idiot girl.

Beauty - another very strong story, a science fiction retelling of Beauty and the Beast, set in the future, after aliens have come to Earth and improved our technology and our way of life . . . but they send out roses and the families who receive a rose must send a son or daughter to live with the ugly and mysterious aliens in their mansions. There are a few good twists to this tale and it is very satisfying. ( )
  catfantastic | Nov 12, 2012 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Tanith Leeprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Poyser, VictoriaCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Whelan, MichaelCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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In the late summer afternoon, the river lay thin and shallow among its smooth stones.
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This book predates the Fairy Tale Series by several years. Please don't add this book to the series The Fairy Tale Series.
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How would it be if Snow White were the real villain & the wicked queen just a sadly maligned innocent? What if awakening the Sleeping Beauty should be the mistake of a lifetime--of several lifetimes? What if the famous folk tales were retold with an eye to more horrific possibilities?

Only Tanith Lee could do justice to it. In RED AS BLOOD, she displays her soaring imagination at its most fantastically mischievous. Not for nothing was the title story named as a Nebula nominee. Not for nothing was the author of THE BIRTHGRAVE & THE STORM LORD called by New York's Village Voice, "Goddess-Empress of the Hot Read."

Here are the world-famous tales of such as the Brothers Grimm as they might have been retold by the Sisters Grimmer! Fairy tales for children? Not on your life!
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