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Black Thorn, White Rose (The Snow White, Blood Red Anthology Series #2)

3.89  ·  Rating Details ·  1,427 Ratings  ·  58 Reviews
Once upon a time . . . World Fantasy Award-winners Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling compiled an extraordinary anthology of adult fairy tales entitled Snow White, Blood Red. Now, once more, they return us to the realm of myth and the fantastic - with eighteen remarkable tales that remold our most cherished childhood fables into things darker and sexier, more resonant and app ...more
Paperback, 386 pages
Published 1995 by Avon Books (first published September 1994)
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Fantasy Literature
Black Thorn, White Rose is the second in Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling's series of adult fairy-tale anthologies. I'd have to say that this is my favorite of the bunch; most of the volumes are good, but this one has so many wonderful stories that have stayed with me for years. A few highlights:

"Stronger Than Time," by Patricia C. Wrede , is a sad but hopeful take on "Sleeping Beauty," told through the eyes of Arven, an ordinary peasant widower. He has lived his whole life in the shadow of a mys
Althea Ann
Sep 25, 2013 Althea Ann rated it really liked it
Original anthology of 18 adult fairy tales, a follow-up volume to Snow White, Blood Red.

I'd read this anthology before, but I'm getting psyched for going to Faeriecon this coming weekend, so I wanted to read some of these... This series is one of my all-time favorites, as a whole....

7 • Words Like Pale Stones • Nancy Kress •
This is an powerfully different take on the tale of "Rumplestiltskin" – portrayed with compassion, which makes the actions of the main character, the woman who is asked to sp
This is one of what I gather to be a whole host of “alternative fairy tale” short story collections. It has sat on my shelf for years, forlornly waiting to be read. I recently started picking at it, a story at a time, while reading other things. It’s solidly average-to-decent, but I actually liked it more than I thought I would.

As with most genre short story anthologies, the entries in this book all revolve around the common theme of turning a classic fairy tale on its head. The stories approach
May 20, 2012 Josie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fairytales, fantasy
This was quite a mixed bag of stories. Some of them were interesting, but none really gripped me? There were certain stories that I enjoyed reading at the time, but they didn't linger in the mind after I'd put the book down. And as for the not-so-good tales, oh my god. They were terrible. I had to stop reading Ashputtle because I was so disgusted. I didn't understand half of The Sawing Boys and gave up on that one too. (I discovered a glossary at the end, but wasn't tempted to go back and try ag ...more
As with all story collections, there are some better than others in this, but all in all, it's a good mix.

The one story that I really want to comment on is "The Frog King, or Iron Henry" by Daniel Quinn, and that's because, sadly, I just don't get it. I know the story of the Frog Prince, I noticed the mirrored writing Quinn used, but I just couldn't grasp what the author was trying to say with this piece. Was the king injured as a frog, causing his memory problems? Was his queen having an affair
More like 1.5 stars. A reread that I barely remembered, and that does not hold up well. Most of the stories are dated, a few are downright terrible; the sole standout is the Rumpelstiltskin retelling by Jane Yolen, but I suspect at least part of my appreciation of it derives from the fact that by the time I read it, I was still irritated by "Iron Henry" and "Can't Catch Me," which are a whole other level of, respectively, try-hard and pointless .
Aug 10, 2011 Samaire rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: retold-stories
Of the three collections I read by these editors, this was the most disappointing. Some of the stories were so obtuse as to be unrecognizable to the fairy tale that inspired the story. One of the stories even needed a glossary - LAME! If your 10 page short story needs a glossary, we have a problem. This took me forever to read, and quite frankly, I'm glad it's over. I think I'm done with short stories for a while.
Kaitlin Michelle
Mar 23, 2016 Kaitlin Michelle rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
I reviewed another book in this series here. I liked the first book better than this book, but this one was good also. It is worth a read if you like fairy tale retellings! for this, other reviews, giveaways, interviews, and more!
Nov 20, 2015 Lyssa rated it liked it
Shelves: fairy-tale
There were only 1 or 2 stories in this collection worth reading.
Nancy O'Toole
Black Thorn, White Rose is an anthology which seeks to embrace the more adult roots of fairy tales. Some of the stories referenced in this collection include well known tales such as “Sleeping Beauty” and “Rumpelstiltskin,” as well as lesser known ones including “Tattercoats” and “The Breman Town Musicians.” The result is a wide variety of stories that vary from rather traditional retellings to the more experimental (one is actually told in the form of a recipe). Unfortunately, like many antholo ...more
Dec 30, 2014 Gloria rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone over 18; fairy tale lovers and dreamers
An introduction into the world of märchen (fairy tales), and how the authors in this book entwined them with horror. Fantastic horror - how truth and timeless principles merge with story to become something that is never forgotten. Each chapter has a short introduction, which suggests either horrific events, or a kind of lightness to the tale.

(view spoiler)
I gave up on page 120, after reading (or attempting to read) six of the stories. Patricia Wrede's Stronger Than Time was the only good one so far.
Luciana Darce
Oct 30, 2014 Luciana Darce rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Black Thorne, White Rose, que li depois tem um tom diferente. Depois descobri que o peguei na cronologia errada, porque ele foi publicado primeiro que o outro e talvez por isso seja mais fiel ao espírito dos contos de fadas. Nada contra discussões sobre feminismo, mas não foi exatamente para levantar bandeiras que peguei essas antologias – e Black Swan, White Raven me incomodou um pouco em sua contínua necessidade de ‘panfletarismo’, de personagens femininas centrais que nem sempre merecem toda ...more
Emmanuelle Maupassant
In reading this collection, I wanted to feel the building of tension, I wanted to be fearful, and to be emotionally stirred. I wanted to be provoked and disturbed.

I wonder if my expectations were too high.

Only one tale in this anthology achieved a cold curling about my heart: Daniel King's 'Frog Henry'. In its examination of the elusive nature of memory, where all 'dissolves and vanishes' like 'breath on an icy mirror', it achieved the chilling atmosphere I'd anticipated. It is a story of the p
Gathered Nettles
This intriguing collection of fairy tales retold by contemporary authors is the second in a series of six published by World Fantasy Award-winners Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling. Although the stories in the book express a wide range of literary styles, they are all adaptations of traditional tales written with an adult audience in mind. The purpose of this collection, and the other five volumes in the series, is to take the fairy tale out of the nursery and place it back in the broader literary ...more
May 08, 2009 Katie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, shortstories
With a delightful exception or two, these are not sexually charged versions of traditional tales, despite the book's self-labeling as "adult". Rather, the reinvisioned stories deal with complex decisions, circumstances, and commentary that adults generally assume children lack the context and patience to understand. However, this is much more in line with the historic role of fairy tales: stories of supernatural horror, evil, and unjustice; how a misunderstanding can run away with you; how memor ...more
I am done with Black Thorn, White Rose and overall I liked it. :) The stories I really enjoyed were Stronger Than Time (Sleeping Beauty based), Somnus's Fair Maiden (Sleeping Beauty based), Tattercoats (big favorite for adults, with some sexual scenes and a wonderful message about trying to keep love in a relationship), Granny Rumple (Rumplestiltskin based with a twist about Jews), Godson (big fave - I think based on Cinderella and the fairy godmother), Silver and Gold (another big favorite; it' ...more
May 24, 2009 Danielle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: folklore-group
I bought a copy of this because I wanted to read Peter Straub's 'Ashputtle' (which was great), and as a result was unthinkingly expecting that the rest of these 'adult' fairy-tales would have a horror flavour too. They don't, and once I got past that expectation I really enjoyed the collection. Some authors made up worlds for their retellings, while others explored historical or modern real-world settings. A favourite was Howard Waldrop's 'The Sawing Boys', which has the Bremen Town Musicians tr ...more
It's hard to rate an anthology of short stories, due to the wide range of the quality of the tales. Some contributions, such as those of Patrica Wrede, Jane Yolen, Roger Zelazny, and Susan Wade I enjoyed very much (an indication of my fiction preferences, no doubt) while others read like cheap, gag-worthy romantic trash, and still others, such as Peter Straub's Ashputtle and Storm Constantine's 'Sweeet Bruising Skin', were not what I would choose as my own reading material but which I neverthele ...more
Aug 03, 2014 Cinnamingirl rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who like Fairy Tales
I bought this on nook even though I have a dead-tree version back home. I had honestly forgotten how full of amazing things this book is. It's hard to pick a favorite - I have a thing for Regency settings, so "Somnus' Fair Maid" was a favorite. "The Brown Bear of Norway" is hauntingly beautiful and bittersweet. Even "The Sawing Boys", while not my favorite, is a lot of fun, although the jargon got to be a bit much at times.

Really, the stories in this are beautifully written and at times disturb
I got to about the fifth story in this anthology today and figured out that I've already read it (and wasn't that impressed with it). I liked Snow White, Blood Red much better. Some of the authors in this one made me raise an eyebrow--the guy who wrote Ishmael? Really? No wonder I disliked his story! I'll definitely check into some of their other reimagined fairy-tale anthologies, though.
Lisa Findley
Short story collections are rarely consistently good, and this book is no exception. Some of these are beautiful and disturbing--Words Like Pale Stones, Ashputtle, The Brown Bear of Norway, some are funny--Can't Catch Me, Godson. And some are dull--Tattercoats. Of course, Jane Yolen's contribution, Granny Rumple, is reliably good.
Sep 30, 2015 Kimi rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-library
Unfortunately, there is an error in my copy of this book. One page is missing, while another is duplicated in it's place. Even with the missing page, I still enjoyed this collection of short stories.

Some of my favorites were "Stronger Than Time", "The Brown Bear Of Norway", "Granny Rumple" and "Godson".
Jul 14, 2012 Kate rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Oddly enough, in this collection of re-told fairy tales for grown ups, my favorite was probably Godson by Roger Zelany (it is odd because I've never enjoyed Zelany before). I recommend this anthology to anyone who enjoys fairy tales (especially those who want fairy tales with a bit more depth or exploration of the darker side of things).
Ade Couper
May 27, 2013 Ade Couper rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another multi-author short story anthology- and a good one!

"Black Thorn, White Rose" takes traditional fairy-tales as its start point, & the authors therein basically pick up the ball and run with it!. The best tales in here are "tattercoats" by Midori Snyder, "Godson", by Roger Zelazny, and the excellent "Sweet Bruising Skin" by Storm Constantine.

Well worth a look.
Aug 12, 2012 Tamara rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I would have given it three stars but I ended up skipping two of the stories. They just didn't grab me and I found my attention wandering every time I tried to read them. The majority of the stories in this collection were good, however.
May 31, 2008 Amy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, shortstories
This is the second in the series of books that retell and reshape fairy tales, edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling. As with the other volumes, this book is excellent. The story by Midori Snyder definitely stood out for me...
Oct 01, 2010 Traveller rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
There were probably a few stories that I would have given 4 stars, especially the last one, The Black Swan, which really drew me in.

Overall a pretty mixed bag, not all of the stories impressed me, but it's nice to see all the different authors' styles of writing.
Jenn Basel
Jul 25, 2016 Jenn Basel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As a fan of faerie stories and modern retellings, I must say that this series of anthologies has landed itself on my list of favorites. I'm not sure what to say other than if you enjoy a good faerie tale or fable, you should give this book a read.
Eileen Phillips
Feb 29, 2008 Eileen Phillips rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who understand that you never outgrow fairy tales
Recommended to Eileen by: Steph
Shelves: sci-fi-fantasy
A great collection of retold fairy tales from all sorts of different sci-fi/fantasy authors. I love Jane Yolen the best, but that's nothing new. I read Briar Rose in high school and it was one of the most moving things I've ever read.
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Ellen Datlow has been an award-winning editor of short science fiction, fantasy, and horror for over twentyfive years.

She is editor of the Best Horror of the Year and has edited or co-edited a large number of award-winning original anthologies. Her most recent are Supernatural Noir, Naked City, Blood and Other Cravings, The Beastly Bride, Teeth, Trolls Eye View, and After (the last three with Ter
More about Ellen Datlow...

Other Books in the Series

The Snow White, Blood Red Anthology Series (6 books)
  • Snow White, Blood Red
  • Ruby Slippers, Golden Tears
  • Black Swan, White Raven
  • Silver Birch, Blood Moon
  • Black Heart, Ivory Bones

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