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The Starlit Wood: New Fairy Tales by Dominik…

The Starlit Wood: New Fairy Tales

by Dominik Parisien (Editor), Navah Wolfe (Editor)

Other authors: Charlie Jane Anders (Contributor), Stella Bjorg (Illustrator), Aliette de Bodard (Contributor), Amal El-Mohtar (Contributor), Jeffrey Ford (Contributor)14 more, Max Gladstone (Contributor), Theodora Goss (Contributor), Daryl Gregory (Contributor), Kat Howard (Contributor), Stephen Graham Jones (Contributor), Margo Lanagan (Contributor), Marjorie Liu (Contributor), Seanan McGuire (Contributor), Garth Nix (Contributor), Naomi Novik (Contributor), Sofia Samatar (Contributor), Karin Tidbeck (Contributor), Catherynne M. Valente (Contributor), Genevieve Valentine (Contributor)

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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This was so beautiful! Everything about this story was perfect, I loved the message of love and support; how women blame themselves for what men do to them, how women can heal one another...ugh THIS WAS SO GOOD ( )
  ElleGato | Sep 27, 2018 |
This is a great collection. The standout story to me is “Seasons of Glass and Iron” by Amal El-Mohtar. ( )
  andrlik | May 10, 2018 |
A collection of short stories, all retold fairy tales. I slogged through this book, and that's unusual for me and fairy tales. Out of eighteen, I enjoyed four and found five more just okay, and the rest I hated, albeit to varying degrees. What can I say? I got sucked in by a pretty cover, and then stubbornly decided that I was going to finish the book, darn it. Plus, with short story collections there's always the hope that the next story will be good (and, indeed, the last two were some of the best in the book). If you do pick this up, I recommend the stories by El-Mohtar, Goss, Howard, and Novik. ( )
  foggidawn | Jun 26, 2017 |
"From the woods to the stars, join us on eighteen extraordinary journeys into unexpected territories, uncharted lands, and unforeseen experiences. Welcome to an adventure that's strangely familiar and startlingly different at the same time. You're likely to emerge changed, but isn't that the way it is with all the best stories?

An excellent anthology with lovely, intricate illustrations. (Take a peek at a few on the illustrator's website.) Most times with collections I'm prepared to trudge through at least a handful of the stories that don't quite WOW me. Not the case with The Starlit Wood; only one failed to hold my attention, and I'm sure that's more to do with my personal tastes than its quality or mass appeal. I also loved reading the Author's Note that followed each story.

There are stories that read like a traditional fairy tale and stories that lean more heavily toward fantasy/ sci-fi / western inspired by fairy tales. Having that blend of cross-genre tales really gives this anthology the extra oomph often overlooked in collections.

There was a tie for my favorite: Kat Howard's "Reflected" and Stephen Graham Jones' "Some Wait." Naomi Novik's "Spinning Silver" was a close runner-up.

Highly recommend to fairy-tale enthusiasts on the hunt for original retellings.

4 stars ( )
  flying_monkeys | Dec 13, 2016 |
Trigger warning: rape

The Starlit Wood is an anthology containing eighteen entirely new retold and genre mixing fairy tales from some of SFF’s best writers. The full author line up is as follows: Charlie Jane Anders, Aliette de Bodard, Amal El-Mohtar, Jeffrey Ford, Max Gladstone, Theodora Goss, Daryl Gregory, Kat Howard, Stephan Graham Jones, Margo Lanagan, Marjorie M Liu, Seanan McGuire, Garth Nix, Naomi Novik, Sofia Samatar, Karin Tidbeck, Catherynne M. Valente, and Genevieve Valentine.

With a line up like that, you can see why I leapt to pick up a copy. And by and large, The Starlit Wood did not disappoint. I found it to be a very strong collection with some truly memorable stories.

Perhaps my favorite of the anthology was Daryl Gregory’s tale, “Even the Crumbs Were Delicious,” a loose retelling of “Hansel and Gretel” set in the same world as Afterparty, his near future techno-thriller where drugs can be easily made via chemical printers. The roommate of a presumably dead drug dealer is throwing a funeral, complete with wall paper made out of his dead roommate’s stash, when two street kids break in and start eating his walls. Chaos and hilarity ensues.

“The Briar and the Rose” by Marjorie M. Liu is another tale I really enjoyed, and it’s made me want to seek out more of her work. The protagonist of the story is Briar, the Duelist, a woman who works as a guard for a rich and beautiful courtesan, Carmela. But Carmela hides a secret, and once a week she retreats to the top of her tower, letting no one near… The story is based off of “Sleeping Beauty” and is a largely successful attempt at restructuring the story to give the woman involved agency. Similarly, “Seasons of Glass and Iron” by Amal El-Mohtar combines two different fairy tales, “The Black Bull of Norroway” and “The Glass Mountain” to present a story where the women save themselves.

Another highlight was “Spinning Silver” by Naomi Novik, which presents a version of “Rumpelstiltskin” where the girl involved relies on her own intelligence and strength of will to win the day. In her note on the story, Novik explains that the story of “Rumpelstiltskin” always sat oddly with her, from the girl marrying the man who threatened to kill her to the character of Rumpelstiltskin himself having more than a hint of anti-Semitic caricature about him.

There were other stories I found less successful. I don’t think Karin Tidbeck’s “Underground” manages to overcome some of the problems with a woman choosing to save the man who kept her captive. “Giants in the Sky” by Max Gladstone had an interesting take on “Jack and the Beanstock,” but it took me over half the story to figure out what was going on. “The Tale of Mahliya and Mauhub and the White-Footed Gazelle” by Sofia Samatar has source material that I’d like to look further into, but this retelling never left me entranced.

Still, such is how it always goes with short story collections. There will be some stories that you adore, some that leave you cold, and many in between. By and large, I found The Starlit Wood to be a very strong collection and one that I would recommend.

Originally posted on The Illustrated Page.

I received an ARC of The Starlit Wood from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. ( )
1 vote pwaites | Oct 6, 2016 |
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» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Parisien, DominikEditorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Wolfe, NavahEditormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Anders, Charlie JaneContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bjorg, StellaIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
de Bodard, AlietteContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
El-Mohtar, AmalContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Ford, JeffreyContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Gladstone, MaxContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Goss, TheodoraContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Gregory, DarylContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Howard, KatContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Jones, Stephen GrahamContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Lanagan, MargoContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Liu, MarjorieContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
McGuire, SeananContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Nix, GarthContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Novik, NaomiContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Samatar, SofiaContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Tidbeck, KarinContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Valente, Catherynne M.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Valentine, GenevieveContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Carre, BenjaminCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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From the woods to the stars, The Starlit Wood: New Fairy Tales takes readers on a journey at once unexpected and familiar, as a diverse group of writers explore some of our most beloved tales in new ways across genres and styles.

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