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Wolves and Witches

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Witches have stories too. So do mermaids, millers’ daughters, princes (charming or otherwise), even big bad wolves. They may be a bit darker–fewer enchanted ball gowns, more iron shoes. Happily-ever-after? Depends on who you ask. In Wolves and Witches, sisters Amanda C. Davis and Megan Engelhardt weave sixteen stories and poems out of familiar fairy tales, letting them show their teeth.

82 pages, Paperback

First published February 19, 2013

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Amanda C. Davis

47 books20 followers

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5 stars
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32 (32%)
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Displaying 1 - 25 of 25 reviews
Profile Image for Christine.
6,550 reviews473 followers
January 5, 2014
Crossposted at Booklikes

I was somewhat hesitant to pick this up, but then I got gift cards and the price was reduced on the kindle version so what hell.
It’s friggin awesome.
The darker stories seem to be, for the most part, by Amanda C. Davis while the lighter stories are by Megan Engelhardt
I love, absolutely totally, completely wonderfully love Questing for Princesses. It’s about a prince and a desire not to quest. But I knew I was in good hands after the first story “Instructions” which is about tempting an elf to come and help you. The poetry, such as the first “Flytrap”, is good, but on the whole the stories are better.
The short stories tend to be reflective. This means that there are two version of Rumpelstilken, both dark but both focusing on different aspects. Quite frankly, I found The Gold in the Straw to be one of the best, if not the best, retelling of Rumpel, dealing with many of the problems that exist in the story. A Letter Concerning Shoes is a far more emotive tale of the 12 Princesses then A Breath of Bones. Yet, both are powerful and both have their points. I like them for totally different reasons. There is a different look on Hamelin, a re-inventing of Hansel and Gretel.
A Shining Spindle is a poem that feels more like a story and is about why it isn’t a male sleeping beauty. Have to love that.
This is really a quite inventive and gripping collection. It is like that box of delights, that keeps opening, a chest of wonders. Even the weaker works are quite strong. If you enjoy dark fantasy or fairy tale retellings, this is a wonderful book.
Profile Image for ritvika.
30 reviews11 followers
September 23, 2022
overall rating: ★★★★★ 4.68/5

what a fantastically dark and delicious analect of prose and poetry.

‘wolves and witches’ houses a collection of classic fairy tales, the very same ones fed to us as mere children. only this time, the admired and the adulated take a back seat, as the stories get retold from the perspective of the unpleasant and the unnoticed, the iniquitous and the inconspicuous.

amongst the retellings, the ones that stood out to me the most were:

‘the gold in the straw’ by amanda c. davis –

❝ you think about stories you’ve heard about magicians: how magic comes differently to everyone, how sometimes the most powerful don’t even know it.❞

a rumpelstiltskin retelling. so disturbing, so delightful. this anecdote provides an alternate ending to the classic. the narrating style was what really caught my attention, but what shone was the impeccable twist at the very end. ★★★★ 4.3/5

‘the long con’ by megan engelhardt –

❝ the real magic stood before me: a prince, become a monster. gold, spun down to straw.❞

another rumpelstiltskin retelling. so bleak, so bewitching. this serves as a sort of sequel to the classic, of what happens after the original tale ends. one of the shortest anecdotes in the entire collection, but definitely the most haunting. ★★★★★ 4.8/5

‘the peril of stories’ by amanda c. davis –

❝ hush, my petal. hush, my gem. i’ll tell you a bedtime story. listen.❞

a rapunzel retelling. so lovely, so lamenting. this serves as a prequel to the classic, narrated from the perspective of mother gothel. what shone was the immaculate style of narration. ★★★★ 4.4/5

‘a letter concerning shoes’ by megan engelhardt –

❝ i collected dreams and wove them around the only part of you i could reach.❞

a the twelve dancing princesses retelling. so wonderful, so wistful. the story begins before the actual events in the classic take place, and continues right up till the very end. possibly the longest and most melancholic tale, this one tugged right at the heartstrings. ★★★★★ 4.7/5

overall, this was such a ravishing read. both the authors have a similar style of writing — simple, but striking. as opposed to the classic tales, these works have a more haunting and poignant air to them. while the works of prose were slightly more elevated than the poems, both were stunning.
Profile Image for Ambrosia.
204 reviews37 followers
April 15, 2014
I've been reading a lot of short-ish indie titles recently (totally not because they conveniently pad out my Goodreads annual goal count *cough*), especially riffs on fairy tales. Some have been good; a lot more have been mediocre.

This particular collection, however, was a pleasant surprise; the stories were consistently evocative and entertaining. Some (like "The Long Con" and "A Mouth To Speak The Coming Home") felt a little skeletal - I think the premises of both of these could have stood some more fleshing out. But others worked very well in short form - I particularly liked "A Letter Concerning Shoes", about one of the more-overlooked characters in the dancing-princesses legend, and "Questing For Princesses", about an eminently sensible sort of prince. Even more impressive was the poetry - I'm not a big poetry person, but this one had two that I quite liked - one clever ("Untruths About The Desirability Of Wolves") and one touching ("For Taylor, On the Occasion of Her Fourteenth Birthday with Love").

It's not a large volume, but really, that works to its advantage - it doesn't keep its hold on your attention long, and what time it does require is well-spent. A nice diversion for a lazy afternoon on a rainy day.
Profile Image for Leah.
803 reviews41 followers
January 25, 2015
My favorite of the collection was "Questing for Princesses" by Davis. It did what I like retellings to do: show me the other side of a fairy tale, and either be dark or really funny. Different POVs, backstory, fractured viewpoints, whatever - I like to explore multiple versions, all the angles. In this story, the other side was a prince who thought it ridiculous to do all that just to snag a bride. That being fight dragons, treat a monster with TLC, search an entire kingdom for an anonymous chick who dropped her shoe, and so on.

The poem "A Shining Spindle Can Still Be Poisoned" by Davis explained why Sleeping Beauty was never a prince, and I might have to agree. *wink*

"A Mouth to Speak the Coming Home" by Engelhardt was a mash-up of Hansel and Gretel and other folklore, and the one story I wanted more of. I immediately fell into Maryn's world and wished the story was longer!

The collection felt whole; it read like stories meant to be collected and presented together. I thought it quite clever to include side-by-side versions of the same original. So yeah, I'd definitely read more by either of these authors.

(And how cool is it that they're sisters?!)

4 stars
Profile Image for G.L. Jackson.
Author 2 books43 followers
April 2, 2013
Picking up Wolves and Witches was a no-brainer for me. I'm a fan of author Amanda Davis from way back. This compilation between Davis and her sister Megan Engelhardt is a twist on some classic fairy tales, all looked at from the perspective of characters who may not have been the stories' stars the first time around, but most definitely shine in these retellings. There are a fair number of stories in the book that are told twice, once by each author, but the differences are spectacular, as are the methods of passing along a similar story.

All the tales are interspersed with poetry, some of which is quite lovely and some of which is fairly disturbing. This is what I would expect from horror/sci fi authors. What I didn't really expect was the way some of the stories and poems touched me and lingered far after I finished reading the book.

My biggest complaint is that the book is too short. I could have easily devoured something twice as long.
Profile Image for Rhonda.
Author 95 books218 followers
February 8, 2013
Wolves and Witches is a fabulous collection of re-imagined fairy tales. I made the mistake of starting it late one evening and couldn't go to sleep until I had read it all. With their dark prose and evocative poetry these sisters have done the Brothers Grimm proud.
Profile Image for Eileen.
Author 4 books44 followers
February 13, 2013
Dark and wondrous stories that I couldn't read fast enough -- like Red Riding Hood's wolf, in one sitting, I'd swallowed them whole.
Profile Image for Ozsaur.
714 reviews
November 2, 2020
The stories and poems are written by two sisters who have a similar writing style. They found some interesting twists, and angles on a few traditional fairy tales. Rumpelstiltskin had a cool revelation. There were two very different versions of The Twelve Dancing Princesses which I enjoyed.

All of the stories were very short, so they were more like little snapshots. With stories that short, the endings needed to really pack a wallop, but some of them just didn't. And when they're that short, there should have been more of them. The last part of the book was a Q and A with both authors.

I liked it well enough, but wanted more.
Profile Image for Eliana.
32 reviews14 followers
November 20, 2020
This work is Angela Carter reincarnated. The prose is dark and rich. The poetry is at times bright, at times pensive. I couldn't put it down, and, once it was finished, I read half of it over again.
Profile Image for Mary.
24 reviews1 follower
December 27, 2020
I feel like this book could have easily just been a blog post. It was ok, but pretty much a let down.
Profile Image for Chuck Engelhardt.
137 reviews1 follower
March 28, 2013
As I read Wolves and Witches by Amanda Davis and Megan Engelhardt, the most common adjective to describe it that came to mind was “clever.” It is indeed a clever twist to familiar tales. As a child I remember thinking that some pretty horrific stuff happens in Fairy Tales; wolves eat grandmothers, young girls are held captive in secluded towers, and little children are regularly lost and abused. Davis and Engelhardt grasp on to these aspects of the stories and paint a picture of how they came to be in the years never before disclosed. I am tempted to compare the stories to A.J. Jacobs’ Fractured Fairy Tales from the old Rocky and Bullwinkle Show, but those were fractured to be silly or funny; Wolves and Witches is clever, not silly. They tell the story of how Rapunzel ended up in the tower and what eventually happened to the little boy Rumpelstiltskin was promised. These stories and poems answer questions you never thought to ask about the people in the Fairy Tales.

The stories are short and easy to read. I saw another review that correctly points out that there is little in the way of character development in these tales, but I think the importance of their development is diminished because the characters are already familiar to most of us. That is a point worth making, familiarity with fairy tales and nursery rhymes is a must to garner full enjoyment from this book. Unfortunately, I’m not sure that the current generation has been afforded that opportunity in their childhood.

The simple to read style, brevity, and wit are what I really like about this book and I do highly recommend it for those who like familiar stories with a twist.
Profile Image for Stephanie.
1,475 reviews83 followers
March 13, 2013
Original Post at Fangs, Wands and Fairy Dust
WOLVES AND WITCHES is a Delightful Surprise

This is a surprisingly excellent collection of mostly deliciously written re-imagined fairy tales. Amanda Davis' The Instructions is particularly fabulous. I wasn't expecting much from this collection. It's so much fun and filled with dark and delicious revenge-filled tales! Even the poetry is enjoyable. I don't have a huge amount to say about this because I enjoyed it but the stories are short, a couple of pages at most so there's not much in the way of character development or plot to critique.

I would like to say that one or the other pieces is horrid; but I can't. While there are two II wouldn't count as favorites they are still both quite good: Bones in the Branches was overly dark and a bit mean. And I didn't really like A Mouth to Speak the Coming Home - a Hansel-and-Gretel-ish tale but both were competently written.

I Highly Recommend this fun and small collection of short stories.
Profile Image for Sky Sommers.
Author 20 books312 followers
April 28, 2019
Awesome compilation of short stories and poems! I loved Granny's take on Red Riding Hood and the Witche's story in Hansel and Gretel, in verse none the less. The little mermaid and the cobbler's apprentice wove a truly maudlin mood. Also loved Rumple's surprise ending. Some stories were more bloodthirsty than others, but the general feel of the compilation was quirky, light and novel. My absolute favourite was Questing After Princesses, a light, truly modern fairy tale. Diamond and Toad blend fairy tales and sci fi and is cleverly written as a poem in two voices. The truly original one for me was A Mouth To Speak The Coming Home, also with a sci fi undertone, but staying true to the original story and Hansel and Gretel's (step)mothers' reasoning for doing her cruel deed (In original grimm stories stepmothers were mothers, changed to stepmothers after someone realised parents are reading these stories to their kids at bedtime). I very much enjoyed reading the tales retold by these two sisters and hope to read something from them again. Thoroughly recommended!
Profile Image for Stephen Ramey.
Author 30 books13 followers
April 13, 2013
In their collection of re-envisioned fairy tales, Wolves and Witches, Amanda C. Davis and Megan Engelhardt deliver an assortment of poetry and short fiction that entertains the ear and tickles the mind. The prose is assured, clever, and insightful, and the stories, which often experiment with perspective, dance from the page. Highlights include Davis' "Bones in the Branches", "Her Dark Materials" and "The Gold in the Straw," and Engelhardt's "Untruths About the Desirability of Wolves" and the intriguing poem for two voices, "Diamond and Toad." This is a strong collection, particularly for fairy tale enthusiasts.
Profile Image for Rene' Riddle.
247 reviews1 follower
February 1, 2014
Ooooooooooo can I just tell you how much I loved this book? SO. SO. MUCH. These ladies don't just write well, they have a gift. Everyone can practice something and go to school for it, and work really really hard and get good enough at it to do it professionally. But not everyone has the gift for writing, and these ladies write so spectacularly well. I was ever so disappointed when the book was over. It was way too short. I was a little nervous because I purchased this on my kindle and it always makes me anxious when I buy books by writers I'm not familiar with. Money well spent! If you like fairy tales, put this next on your to-read list TODAY!
28 reviews
September 24, 2013
I should have been wary of buying a book so few people had reviewed but i saw the posative reviews and purchased this. took me hardly any time at all to read it so that's a negative to me. i hate spending money on a book that i read in an hour (i bought the e-book). this is a collection of short stories and even shorter poems. I dont personally think they are written terribly well but thats just my humble opinion. whats most frustrating is that each one feels like a small clipping from a much meatier story. your reading two or maybe four pages out of a story that just barely starts to make sense before its over. Anyhow, other people liked it but i did not. i prefer more development
Profile Image for McKenzie Richardson.
Author 66 books55 followers
July 22, 2016
This was such a cool book. Quick read, but very enjoyable. The stories and poems were beautiful and creative as they retold old tales or extended them. This was truly a remarkable work. Half of the fun was trying to figure out what story the authors were retelling. I loved the new perspectives and twists to the stories. I definitely recommend this book. My personal favorites were "The Long Con", "A Letter Concerning Shoes", "A Shining Spindle Can Still Be Poisoned", and "Questing for Princesses".
Profile Image for Susan Sullivan.
Author 6 books23 followers
February 6, 2014
Delightful, sly, intelligent, witty and entertaining. My absolute favorites: the poem, "Untruths About the Desirability of Wolves" and a brilliant little piece, "The Instructions," that hooked me with its irreverent tone. 5 stars out of 5 stars for the entire collection! My only wish is that the book were longer!
Profile Image for Amanda.
32 reviews
March 12, 2013
Loved! I was disappointed when I realized I had finished it. These sisters did great with the retelling of fairy talesI had forgotten about, twisting them and making them into their own.
Profile Image for Julie.
Author 25 books69 followers
December 1, 2014
This is a fast, yet rich read that was perfect for standing in lines and waiting for the kids to get out of school. Transported me for just a moment, and I'll more than likely read it a few times.
Displaying 1 - 25 of 25 reviews

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