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Silver Birch, Blood Moon by Ellen Datlow
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Silver Birch, Blood Moon (1999)

by Ellen Datlow (Editor), Terri Windling (Editor)

Other authors: Russell William Asplund (Contributor), Anne Bishop (Contributor), Patricia Briggs (Contributor), Michael Cadnum (Contributor), India Edghill (Contributor)16 more, Neil Gaiman (Contributor), Nalo Hopkinson (Contributor), Harvey Jacobs (Contributor), Caitlín R. Kiernan (Contributor), Garry Kilworth (Contributor), Nancy Kress (Contributor), Tanith Lee (Contributor), Karawynn Long (Contributor), Patricia A. McKillip (Contributor), Robin Mckinley (Contributor), Melissa Lee Shaw (Contributor), Delia Sherman (Contributor), Melanie Tem (Contributor), Susan Wade (Contributor), Wendy Wheeler (Contributor), Pat York (Contributor)

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: The Snow White, Blood Red Series (5)

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This is the fifth? in a series of books comprised of short stories, all of which are re-tellings of fairy tales for adults. I wasn’t very wild about this one. Most of the stories seemed to go for the shock value more than anything else. ( )
  maureene87 | Apr 4, 2013 |
I didn't like all of the stories in this anthology but I did like most, and liked them well enough that overall I highly recommend this one. I particularly enjoy fairy tale retellings, and several of these were very inventive twists on old tales. ( )
  bunwat | Mar 30, 2013 |
Silver Birch, Blood Moon is an anthology of re-written fairy tales, with new spins on everything from Shahrazed to the dybbuk of Jewish folklore to several versions of Sleeping Beauty and the Frog Prince. As with any anthology, there is some range in quality of the stories, but overall it's very good.

My favorite stories were Marsh Magic by Robin McKinley (very loosely based on Rumpelstiltskin), Skin So Green And Fine by Wendy Wheeler (a Beauty and the Beast tale), The Wild Heart by Anne Bishop (Sleeping Beauty), The Shell Box by Karawynn Long (The Little Mermaid...sort of) - I'll stop there.

Suffice it to say that I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reimagined fairy tales. ( )
  bluesalamanders | Feb 4, 2012 |
My goal for the last year has been to work through the books on my shelves, so my library visits have become rather infrequent. Last month, we stopped into the public library since we happened to be in the neighborhood. And since I can't go to the library without checking something out, I came home with [Silver Birch, Blood Moon], which caught my eye from where it was on display.

[Silver Birch, Blood Moon] is another anthology of short stories, edited by [[Ellen Datlow]] and [[Terri Windling]]. This is apparently fifth in a series inspired by fairy tales. As usual, not all of the contributions were to my taste, but I found many to be quite delightful. I also greatly appreciated the introduction by the editors and the forward to each item giving a little background. As a whole, I thought this was quite well done, and I am contemplating searching for the earlier anthologies. I had a hard time completing the book because my querido kept stealing it from me (some of his favorite authors were represented). So the other books might also be a struggle. What I found most surprising was that I was completely unfamiliar with some of the inspirational tales.

As a child, fairy tales were among my favorite reading material, so this collection resonates with me. Moreover, the series has been interpreted as feminist reworkings of classic stories, which makes my skin thrum with sympathetic vibrations even more. Given largely misogynistic societies, the heroine marrying the prince is very unlikely to live happily ever after, as amply demonstrated by many of these tales. Yet the villain isn't always a man--as these stories also vividly illustrate. Exploring the dark mirror of exploitation, violence, suffering, and sacrifice brings to light so many truths hidden by silence and the averted gaze and the putative happy ending of cultural tropes purveyed to our children. That doesn't mean that all of these stories are grim and humorless and without a satisfactory resolution. Indeed, they are written with wit, verve, charm, humor, and stronger, more realistic characters and outcomes that acknowledge human nature, both good and bad.

The volume was quite inclusive. Many of the stories obviously came from European tales, and thus the characters are American or European, but this doesn't always translate into white characters. And several of the stories come from other cultural sources. So there's some racial and ethnic diversity. And while many of the characters appear to be straight, there's at least one story that includes more. And some characters come from privileged upper classes, while others represent some of the most marginalized and vulnerable populations. The writing styles also represented a spectrum: poetry, comedy, horror, fantasy, contemporary fiction.

Stories inspired by the Frog Prince:
"Kiss, Kiss" by [[Tanith Lee]] was one of my favorites in this volume, after a cold start. "The Frog Chauffer" by [[Garry Kilworth]] was amusing enough, and the science geek in me approves of the premise. "Toad" by [[Patricia McKillip]]--she's one of my favorite authors, but I found this disppointing.

Stories inspired by Rumpelstilsken:
"The Price" by [[Patricia Briggs]] was a wonderful alternate version from a favorite author, definitely one of my favorites in this book.
"Marsh-Magic" by Robin McKinley was more loosely based on Rumpelstilsken and featured more original world-building, but the writing wasn't as engaging (far too much exposition), and I didn't care for it much, despite this being another beloved author.

Stories inspired by the Sleeping Princess:
"Glass Coffin" by [[Caitlin R Kiernan]] was quite well done and out of the ordinary. However, it was ugly, and I could not like it. I feel much the same way about [The Yiddish Policeman's Union] by [[Michael Chabon]]--the writing was excellent, yet the imagery so ugly.

Stories inspired by The Fairy Gifts:
[[Nalo Hopkinson]] is a wonderful writer, and "Precious" is no exception. "Toad-Rich" by [[Michael Cadnum]] is another fine, but very different take on

Tales derived from Sleeping Beauty:
"Carabosse" by [[Delia Sherman]] was a pleasant enough poem, and I liked the alternate spin on the "bad fairy's" motivation. "The Wild Heart" by [[Anne Bishop]] was good, but didn't quite do it for me. I liked the themes, but the writing didn't engage. I thought that "You Wandered Off Like a Foolish Child to Break Your Heart and Mine" by [[Pat York]] was another brilliant reinterpretation.

Inspired by [[Hans Christian Anderson]]:
"The Vanishing Virgin" by [[Harvey Jacobs]] was in the ultracomedic and farcical vein. I did not care for it. The source material was "The Flea and the Professor." In contrast, "Ivory Bones" was super-creepy. [[Susan Waden]] modeled it on "Thumbelina." I thought "Clad in Gossamer" by [[Nancy Kress]] was brilliant. This was derived from "The Emperor's New Clothes." [[Melissa Lee Shaw]] interpreted "The Little Mermaid" from the Sea Hag's perspective to address how older women are vilified in patriarchal society.

Inspired by miscellaneous tales:
Neil Gaiman's poem "Locks" plays on fatherhood and Goldilocks. Meh. "The Wilful Child, the Black Dog, and the Beanstalk" by [[Melanie Tam]] is a modern tragedy that draws from multiple tales, but isn't a retelling. "Skin So Green and Fine" by Wendy Wheeler, is one of my top three from this volume, for many reasons. Beauty and the Beast was the story that I loved most as a child. I also appreciated the setting on the island of Hispaniola, and the marriage of Haitian and Dominican cultures, Latino and Afro-Caribbean. Plus the writing was superb. Second is "Arabian Phoenix" by India Edghill. Again, Scheherezade and the Arabian tales are a personal favorite. Again, the writing was excellent, and I appreciated the setting. Finally, to complete the hat trick is "The Shellbox" by Karawynn Long. I have always loved selkies. The writing is wonderful, and the themes universal. A close fourth would be "The Dybbuk in the Bottle," a delightful Jewish morality tale by [[Russell William Asplund]].

That's all 21 contributions, nicely divided up and rated. As much as schmaltzy, saccharine happy endings stimulate my gag reflex (warning! cannot swallow this insult to my system!), I didn't enjoy the tales with truly unhappy endings. So I do like for the protagonist to come out ahead, but with some real trial and tribulation and growth, it seems. Definitely worth reading this thought-provoking collection that challenges our ideas about reward and punishment. ( )
4 vote justchris | Feb 23, 2011 |
Another beautiful collection of fairy tales for adult readers collected by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling. There are 21 tales by 21 different authors, some are new to the series and others are old favourites from previous collections.

Kiss Kiss – Tanith Lee
A variation on The Frog Prince. It continues the tale after the frog has changed back into a Prince and they are married. She loses her best friend to her husband after that “hateful betrayal of a kiss”.

Carabosse – Delia Sherman
The author says bad fairies may create problems, but they often offer the young prince and princess they curse the opportunity to become more than they would otherwise have been. They do everybody a favour by stirring things up a bit, and should be given more credit (and sympathy) for their subversive roles. The tale is a look at Sleeping Beauty and the good fairies motivations behind the spell told as a poem.

The Price – Patricia Briggs
A reworking of Rumplestiltskin. A much more human story somehow with some of the gaps from the original tale filled in.

Glass Coffin – Caitlin R Kiernan
A contemporary re-telling inspired by the song “Hardly Wait” by PJ Harvey sung by Juliette Lewis. Salmagundi Desvernine lives in a junkyard with 7 other discarded children waiting for Jimmy Desade to return. While he is away selling drugs she cuts her thumb on some sharp rusty metal and dies. He makes her a glass coffin before leaving the other children for good. Very bleak and desolate.

The Vanishing Virgin – Harvey Jacobs
Inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s The Flea and the Professor. Magic, even the most controlled, has a way of spinning out of control and creating magic of its own. This is about escape, a neglected magicians assistant and wife Ms Molly turns left inside the vanishing box during a trick. She is told to try it by the rabbit they use Pooper who turns out to be a man from a magical world she finds when she turns the opposite way in the box.

Clad in Gossamer – Nancy Kress
About court life, it’s pressures and its intrigues. Based on The Emperor’s New Clothes about Prince Jasper, second in line for the throne. He envies his brother and wants his intended bride for himself as well as the throne. Along the way the truth becomes twisted and he is no longer sure what is happening.

Precious – Nalo Hopkinson
She says “I’ve always hated the ending of the fairy tale about the good sister who has jewels and flowers fall from her lips when she speaks. Of course, the prince marries her, supposedly as her reward for being virtuous, but its obvious that the prince sees her more as a boon to the royal coffers and a beautiful sex toy than as a person. “Precious” takes up the thread after the marriage.” Jude beats Isobel to get more and more jewels until she eventually runs away keeping her address and number unlisted. He finally tracks her down and while she is telling him exactly how she feels he becomes buried under an increasing pile of jewels. She coughs up a ruby as big as a human heart which knocks him out. When she calls the police on her intruder she notices nothing leaves her mouth but the sounds she makes.

The Sea Hag – Melissa Lee Shaw
This tale originated as a rebellion against the multitude of strong, sympathetic adult female characters mostly found in Disney films. Most are either adolescent heroines or bumbling grandmothers. Anyone inbetween in age is usually portrayed as the villain in the tale. This story looks at the Sea Hag from The Little Mermaid from a different perspective. Beautiful and sad it sheds a new light on the popular tale.

The Frog Chauffeur – Garry Kilworth
The inspiration for this tale came from wondering whether a traumatic event like a frog being turned into a human would have residual effects. It considers the consequences of a human male as a frog with an active sex drive producing many tadpoles with a mixture of human and frog DNA. This tale tells of what happens when one such offspring becomes human after a traumatic event and marries Isobel Fairfax.

The Dybbuk in the Bottle – Russell William Asplund
Usually the genie who grants wishes is honourable, but this tells the tale of a dybbuk (a demon from Jewish folklore). It teaches the protagonist a few lessons along the way as he tries to trick the dybbuk back into its bottle with the help of Rabbi Meltzer after it takes over his house.

The Shellbox – Karawynn Long
Beautiful story based on various Selkie tales with a little bit of Bluebeard thrown in for good measures. About a woman who marries a man who treats her like dirt. She has a gift from her mother before she disappeared back into the sea, a shellbox that can hold anything she puts in it. During the tale she puts her voice in it singing to keep her husband company while he fishes, but he abuses it using her voice to call fish to him and then tells her he lost it when he disapproves of her friendship with a deaf and mute woman.

Ivory Bones – Susan Wade
Based on Thumbelina by Hans Christian Andersen. It tells the story from her intended mole-like husband who is a collector of rare oddities. He has in his possession a pearl ring made from Thumbelina’s skull. It contains dark connotations that suggest he had her deliberately turned into pearls so he could keep her with him always.

The Wild Heart – Anne Bishop
The Wild Heart is half of the princess in Sleeping Beauty. It has been travelling making itself strong enough to reunite with it’s other Gentle Heart. A dark look at the tale with a happy ending.

You wandered off like a foolish child to break your heart and mine – Pat York
Written by York after reading the manuscript for Bishops The Wild Heart. It looks at how someone might die by thorns which would be unable to kill someone quickly. A Queen nurses her son who is caught in the briar around the castle. There are 7 men still alive in the thorns which grow every day and try to strangle and kill them. When the prince arrives who is able to reach Sleeping Beauty, the remaining men are all killed when the roots move to let him through.

Arabian Phoenix – India Edghill
A version of “Scheherazde” from the Arabian Nights told in a modern setting. In this tale the reason the new Queens last only a week is due to their marriage contract only being set for that long. Shahrazad works out what happens to them as they are never seen again, the King is selecting the brightest woman and sending them off to university in the Western world. There is even the possibility of them getting married properly in the future.

Toad-Rich – Michael Cadnum
The “other” sister tells the tale of The Fairy Gifts by Charles Perrault. She is the sister who spits frogs, toads, snakes and spiders. After her sister marries the prince jewels become commonplace and it is her insects that become valuable. Her and her mother hope to use them to buy back her sister from the ungrateful prince.

Skin so Green and fine – Wendy Wheeler
A look at Beauty and the Beast. Bruno Bettelheim suggested that this story showed the Beauty could not love the beast until she had transferred her affection for her father to him at it looks at the Oedipal-conflict. The transfers the story to Spain adding in Voodoo and spiritual possession along the way.

The Wilful Child, the Black Dog, and the Beanstalk – Melanie Tam
This tale grew out of the authors duel passions for fairy tales and her job as a social worker. A social worker is teaching a class when someone stays behind at the end to discuss a case she was handling where the young girl killed her adoptive mother shortly before it could be finalised. It turns out she had tried to kill previous mothers-to-be in different fairy tale ways. One had nearly been pushed into an oven, another nearly had her ladder (beanstalk) chopped down and the final one was killed by stabbing her open from throat to sternum like the wolf in the original tales of Little Red Riding Hood.

Locks – Neil Gaiman
A poem inspired by Gaiman reading the story of Goldilocks to his daughter when she was young. It is a dialogue between father and daughter that has the father looking into the future and seeing her loss of innocence and him becoming the father bear checking all the windows and locks.

Marsh-Magic – Robin McKinley
A strange tale about a line of Kings, their mages and the local marsh people. Each King marries one of the marsh woman who produces only one male heir before disappearing. It takes one 22 generations later to break the bind by learning the mage’s true name and unveiling his real identity.

Toad – Patricia A McKillip
Written in response to unanswered questions surrounding the tale of The Frog Prince, especially why any self-respecting frog would want to marry a spoiled brat of a princess!

This is my favourite collection of tales in the series so far. I loved all of the tales and my particular favourites were The Sea Hag by Melissa Lee Shaw, The Wild Heart by Anne Bishop and The Shell Box by Karawynn Long. Other tales I enjoyed immensley were Kiss Kiss by Tanith Lee, Carabosse by Delia Sherman, The Price by Patricia Briggs, Clad in Gossamer by Nancy Kress, The Frog Chauffeur by Garry Kilworth, Ivory Bones by Susan Wade, You Wandered Off by Pat York and Arabian Phoenix by Indian Edgehill. ( )
1 vote Rhinoa | Apr 26, 2008 |
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» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Datlow, EllenEditorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Windling, TerriEditormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Asplund, Russell WilliamContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bishop, AnneContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Briggs, PatriciaContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Cadnum, MichaelContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Edghill, IndiaContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Gaiman, NeilContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hopkinson, NaloContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Jacobs, HarveyContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Kiernan, Caitlín R.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Kilworth, GarryContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Kress, NancyContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Lee, TanithContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Long, KarawynnContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
McKillip, Patricia A.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Mckinley, RobinContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Shaw, Melissa LeeContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Sherman, DeliaContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Tem, MelanieContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Wade, SusanContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Wheeler, WendyContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
York, PatContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Canty, ThomasCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0380786222, Paperback)

Forget about Andrew Lang--Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling argue that fairy tales are not the pastel fantasies of Victorian children's books but rather are drawn with primary passions: love, hate, greed, sacrifice, joy, and sorrow. Silver Birch, Blood Moon is their fifth anthology of original stories with fairy tale sources, "reimagined" for adults.

Nancy Kress retells "The Emperor's New Clothes" with a delightful twist in "Clad in Gossamer"; Harvey Jacobs unleashes laughter with "The Vanishing Virgin," starring an untalented magician, his lovely but frozen assistant, and "a balding, sullen rabbit" called Pooper; Michael Cadnum and Nalo Hopkinson present equally pointed but distinctly different takes on the story of two sisters spelled to speak according to their natures in "Toad Rich" and "Precious"; Wendy Wheeler reworks "Beauty and the Beast" using Caribbean colors in "Skin So Green and Fine"; and Richard William Asplund blends the Arabian genie with the wonder-working rabbi of Hasidic legends to create "The Dybbuk in the Bottle."

The stories here are less gruesome than in the previous collections, and both sexes claim heroic as well as villainous characters. So enter imagination's marketplace, and watch the storytellers at work. It's amazing what they can do with a bit of old legend. --Nona Vero

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:00:06 -0400)

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