This story is beautiful. I want to find someone who loves me this much to share my life with. The story itself is good enough to merit the 5 stars, bu...moreThis story is beautiful. I want to find someone who loves me this much to share my life with. The story itself is good enough to merit the 5 stars, but it is also a special story from my growing up years. My grandpa loved to tell this story and I heard it from him growing up long before I learned who O. Henry was. This story never fails to bring back many great memories of my childhood and my most beloved grandpa. (less)
I really struggled through this anthology. I picked it up because of McKinley's name on the cover. I love Robin McKinley, but this book makes me embar...moreI really struggled through this anthology. I picked it up because of McKinley's name on the cover. I love Robin McKinley, but this book makes me embarrased for her and several of the authors who contributed. Some of the stories felt like they were just trying so hard to make the setting of the story the focal point that the actual story was completely lost or irrelevant. Most of them did not include enough character development to make the characters matter to the reader and very few of them held my interest enough to pull me into the story and make me wish to stay there. Many of the story ideas should never have been done as a short story. There was too much going on and because of the size constraint, way too much information was left out that would have been very helpful to the understanding and enjoyment of the story.
A book like this should encourage readers to seek out more writing by the authors to enjoy more of what they have accomplished. I was put off more writers form this anthology than encouraged. I doubt I will seek out much work by these authors that wasn't already on my TBR list, although there are one or two I might look more into.
I don't always (or often) break down an anthology by each individual story, but where each of these were so incredibly different and were each by different authors, I'll include my view on each individual story. These were written as I read them, so this is what I thought of the story just after reading:
Paper Dragons- James Blaylock: I didn't like this story much. It felt a little too abstract for my taste. I know that it's fantasy, but it didn't so much feel like fantasy as delusions. (2.5 stars)
The Old Woman and the Storm- Patricia McKillip: I loved this story. It felt strongly of the old Native American Indian folk tales and stories that I love hearing. The characters aren't as important as what they portray, or represent and the earth and nature are truly important to them. I loved the symbolism hidden in the story and the ability demonstrated to see beauty in all things and to find joy and love in even the most unlikely of places. (4 or 4.5 stars)
The Big Rock Candy Mountain- Robert Westall: I am a little better than neutral about this one. I didn't love the beginning, but as the story goes on, it gets better. Once night falls in the salty town, the story picks up and begins to get more interesting. It wasn't a favorite, but it wasn't awful either. (weak 3.5 stars)
Flight- Peter Dickinson: This read like an overly researched, poorly written, very dry history text book. I realize that the intention was to make it sound like a scholarly text, but I've read many text books with more interesting language than is demonstrated here. I didn't feel that much of the actual history was explained very well. I understand that the author tells us in the beginning that this text contains the pieces that are missing, but none of us have read what is already there, so how are we supposed to know what else goes there?! Don't ever assume that your reader has the same imagination that you do. It doesn't work well. A few of the anectdotes were really interesting and the story ended perfectly. I love me a good irony. However, the introduction was weak, disjointed and awkward. It also didn't hold my attention very well at all. I rather feel that if I would rather stare at the rushing cement walls out the metro windows than read the book in my lap then said book is probably rather dull. (weak 3 stars)
Evian Steel- Jane Yolen: This story makes me wish that I knew more about Arthurian legends. I don't know if the characters here were entirely Yolen's creation or if she borrowed from legend. This was one of the better stories. I didn't love the story as much as the landscape she created and since that was the ultimate part of the story, I felt it was well done. I felt like I was on that fog shrouded isle. At times while reading this story, I felt like I was walking through the mist, waiting for that break that would show me the light passageway. I wouldn't mind reading more from Yolen about this world and these characters she has crafted to fit her ideas. (weak 4 stars)
Stranger Blood- P.C. Hodgell: Weird story and weird setting, but definitely one I would have liked to hear more about. Oooh... Apparently this is a series. I will have to look into it. The idea that there is a world of darkness and shadows that touches ours is intriguing and terrifying. I would love to read a story that explores this idea more fully and in more detail. (4 stars)
The Curse of Igamor- Michael de Larrabeiti: I really liked the feel of this story. It had that feeling of an old horror story to it. I can just imagine being those children shaking in my bed at night for fear of Igamor. The only complaint I have is the ending. I wish there had beem just a little bit more to the ending than there was. There was this build up and anticipation to the story that had no where to go. It was still very enjoyable and I quite liked it. (4 stars)
Tam Lin- Joan Vinge: Very, very good. I've never read a retelling of Tam Lin and it was only very recently that I became aware of the story. This isn't a tale that I grew up with, but I am excited to read more retellings soon, mostly because of this story. It was very tastefully done and I loved the reality of the emotions Jennet faces at the end of the story. She feels like a real character to me. I wish there had been more explained about the relationships within the story- Jennet and her father, her father and the priest and her father and her mother. The focal point within this story was the landscape however, so I am willing to forgive the weak relationships. I also wish that there had been a little more depth to each of the side characters. I didn't feel I really got to know them. However, I still very much enjoyed the story. It has whetted my appetite for more and I will now be moving some of those retellings on my list to a higher position within the que. (strong 4 stars)
The Stone Fey- Robin McKinley: I was really excited for this story, because I love McKinley's books set in Damar. They are the stories that made me realize I could and did enjoy fantasy, if it was done right. While I did enjoy this story, it was weaker than I expected, especially knowing it wad McKinley + Damar. I realized that I don't love Damar so much as I love the incredibly strong heroines who live in Damar. Maddy was... almost pathetic. There was so little character development as to make the story listless and unexciting. Her character wasn't developed enough for us to feel the loss of what made her essentially Maddy as her family did in the middle of the story. The only time I felt any emotional response to any character was Donal and his fears right at the end of the story. Nothing else seemed to matter. Aerlich was the best, most developed character in the story and he is just a sheep dog! While the story was not bad, it was no where near as strong as I had expected and hoped. This was the story that kept me going through the rest of this rather cumbersome, tiring book, and it was, in a word, disappointing. (3.5 stars)(less)
Allow me to issue this disclaimer first- As a general rule, I do NOT like short stories. At all. There are a FEW exceptions, but if this book hadn't w...moreAllow me to issue this disclaimer first- As a general rule, I do NOT like short stories. At all. There are a FEW exceptions, but if this book hadn't won the Printz Honor, I would never have even considered trying to read it.
This is not a book I enjoyed. It took me MONTHS to get through this book, and it's really not very big. The stories were odd and didn't flow well. In almost every story, we are dropped right into the middle of the story, but because they are so short, we never actually get much of the back story. About any of it. We get little hints and suggestions dropped here and there, but it was all just too weird for me. We don't get explanations for choices characters make (like a 12 year old going for a walk away from the poor "town" that he lives in, into the big city and then just NOT coming back for 12+ years).
I'm sure that there is a market for this book, but I'm definitely not one of them. (less)
I don't normally love short stories, but I make an exception for this book as well as the one that came first, Water. I love Robin McKinley, and have...moreI don't normally love short stories, but I make an exception for this book as well as the one that came first, Water. I love Robin McKinley, and have ever since my friend bribed me to read The Hero and the Crown in 8th grade. I've not read a complete novel by Peter Dickinson yet, but he is high on my very large to-read list. Reading this collection of short stories makes me want to move him higher up the list. The stories contained in this book are not really fairy tales, but several of them have a fairy tale feeling to them. I really want to go back and reread Water now, and I'm excited for the remainder of the planned Elemental Series. From what I read, they are planning on Earth, Air and posisbly Time. I love that each of these stories is wholly unique, and has a strong internal voice and rythmn to it. These stories are strong by themselves. Although I would like to spend more time in some of the worlds these authors created, and there were some unanswered questions, I didn't leave this book feeling unsatisfied, or unfulfilled the way I leave most short stories. Although certain stories left me with some questions and a desire to know more, I didn't feel that any of them were not enough. The stories were complete within themselves, and allowed me to get to know and understand the characters within, and care for them in a way most short story collections I've come across do not. (less)
I loved these books when I was a kid, and read everyone I could get my hands on. I've reread a few recently, and while I still think they are fun, the...moreI loved these books when I was a kid, and read everyone I could get my hands on. I've reread a few recently, and while I still think they are fun, they just aren't as great as they used to be. Sigh... They still get 5 stars though, because you can't beat great childhood memories!(less)
Creepy! Stories like this make me want to go to Grad school for an advanced degree in psychological research. I would love to understand what makes th...moreCreepy! Stories like this make me want to go to Grad school for an advanced degree in psychological research. I would love to understand what makes the mind tick. Poe had a creepy-crazy accurate view and depiction of human nature. Stories like this when coupled with The Cask of Amantiliado?! Brilliant. (less)
The book I have is called Great Tales of Horror, by Poe, but they don't have that copy on here. I really enjoyed reading this. It was very... interest...moreThe book I have is called Great Tales of Horror, by Poe, but they don't have that copy on here. I really enjoyed reading this. It was very... interesting. Some of the stories were a little wordy, and some were very concise. I did enjoy it though. Poe is definitely an interesting, and rather disturbing man...(less)
I liked these stories. They are very interesting, and wow- Holmes is brilliant! I kept wanting to say- Truly, you have a dizzying intellect. ;) All in...moreI liked these stories. They are very interesting, and wow- Holmes is brilliant! I kept wanting to say- Truly, you have a dizzying intellect. ;) All in all, I liked the stories. There were times when Doyle's writing would get just a little dull, but it always picked up. I must say though- Sherlock Holmes sure is pompous and arrogant! But, I still like him!(less)
This was not my favorite. Some of the retellings were great, some were not at all, and some were merely ok. I was a little disappointed by the 12 Danc...moreThis was not my favorite. Some of the retellings were great, some were not at all, and some were merely ok. I was a little disappointed by the 12 Dancing Princesses retelling. It is my favorite fairy tale, and I liked this version a lot, but there was almost nothing new or unique about it at all. Very little was original, so it felt like the original tale with a tiny, tiny bit more information. Overall it was good, and fun, but not my favorite, and a little disappointing. (less)
I love the names of the stories, and the illustrations were beautifully disturbing. With regards to the writing, the book just got better and better....moreI love the names of the stories, and the illustrations were beautifully disturbing. With regards to the writing, the book just got better and better. It started out a little slow, and in the beginning, I wasn't overly impressed. The first story was the tale of Rapunzel, told by the witch. You got to know and understand the witch a little better, but overall I felt it was rather lackluster.
Next was the Pied Piper, and while it was better, it didn't feel overly new or original. The best part of that story was understanding what the Piper played that brought every child in the village running to keep up.
The Pied Piper was good start (Rapunzel was only so-so...) but I became fully engrossed in the collection of stories with Hansel and Gretel. This story takes one of the fairy tales that I've always felt ends pretty happily, and causes it to flirt heavily with the darker side of human nature. The worst part about that, it that the ending to this story is more likely what would have happened than the ending usually told. This story, and Cinderella are, in my opinion, the darkest of the 7 stories collected here.
Cinderella is next, and this story is told by the prince, something that I have never seen before. The prince in Cinderella gets a pretty bad rap. He always seems to be a rather spineless sap... But here, he is a stronger character, one who is easily understood and very easy to sympathize with. It is others in the story who need a closer look and what one finds with that look is not pleasant. I truly pitty the prince in this story.
Jack and the Beanstalk is story number 5, and in this we learn how the giant received his magical playing harp, and what became of her after Jack (who is perhaps not so heroic as one might have previously assumed) takes her away from the giant's home, and also explains why the stories often have the harp crying out for help from the master, awakening him from his slumber.
Snow White comes next, and was perhaps the most tragic of all the stories and the one I felt was written with the most emotion. I've never imagined how hard it must have been for the dwarfs before... (Lust)
The final story tells the story of the infamous ride of Lady Godiva. While not a fairy tale, it is a myth/legend. However, as this slight misfit of the type of tale it is, this story doesn't quite fit in with the rest of the stories in the collection. Each of the other stories in this collection explore some of the darkest aspects of human nature, but this one, although beautifully written, did not. It doesn't begin as a happy tale, but it ends perfectly. I really enjoyed the retelling, but I think it would probably have fit better inside a different collection.
All in all, I was very impressed with this collection of tales. I don't normally love short stories, but these were beautifully written, and most of them were rather brilliant. (less)
I was a little disappointed by this book, but then I generally am with collections of short stories. There just ins't enough time to develop the story...moreI was a little disappointed by this book, but then I generally am with collections of short stories. There just ins't enough time to develop the story, the characters, or the relationships. You miss out on so much. I felt like several of these stories were incomplete and needed to share more information. However there was also something that felt right about the way they were written and the way they were told. I felt like the author tried to use a narrative voice that would read like the original fairy tales, but I also felt that sometimes she tried too hard, that she didn't just let it happen that way, but forced it that way. Not as good as I'd hoped, but not bad either. I think I'd be interested in reading some of her actual novels because I liked what I glimpsed of the writing, and would like to see how she writes a full story, not just a peak around the corner.(less)
I really enjoyed reading these stories. I thought they were quite well done, and really had a fairy tale feel to them. Reading the author's note at th...moreI really enjoyed reading these stories. I thought they were quite well done, and really had a fairy tale feel to them. Reading the author's note at the beginning of the book added a lot to my enjoyment of this book, because it helped put me in the right fram of mind. There are a lot of holes to the story of Rumplestiltskin, and I really enjoyed reading the different ways the author filled in the blanks. I don't usually love short stories, and the more I've read lately, the more disappointed I've become. However, each of these stories read like a fairy tale, they just happened to have a few different details. All in all, it was an easy read, but a very enjoyable one all the same. I recommend it. It takes a lot of imagination to be able to write 6 incredibly unique versions of the same story. (less)
I absolutely LOVED these books growing up! I read tons of them! So fun! If you'd like to read more about my memories with Encyclopedia, check out my b...moreI absolutely LOVED these books growing up! I read tons of them! So fun! If you'd like to read more about my memories with Encyclopedia, check out my blog, Books from Bleh to Basically Amazing.(less)