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Black Swan, White Raven

(Adult Fairy Tales #4)

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  1,228 ratings  ·  68 reviews
Dark and decidedly grown-up stories inspired by fairy tales—from New York Times bestsellers Karen Joy Fowler, Joyce Carol Oates, Susanna Clarke, and more.

 This collection from World Fantasy Award–winning editors Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling proves that fairy tales don’t have to be for little children and that happily ever after doesn’t necessarily mean forever. Here, t
ebook, 368 pages
Published September 30th 2014 by Open Road Media Sci-Fi Fantasy (first published June 7th 1997)
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3.96  · 
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 ·  1,228 ratings  ·  68 reviews

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Althea Ann
Jun 09, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Another volume in Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling's series of re-told fairy tales. There's a reason they're two of my favorite editors. This is a classic anthology. Highly, highly recommended.


The Flounder's Kiss • Michael Cadnum

A rather disturbing tale of a fisherman who hates fish, his wife who doesn't think much of him, and what happens when a fish willing to grant wishes is caught...

The Black Fairy's Curse • Karen Joy Fowler

Short and simple... what if Sleeping Beauty didn't particula
Oct 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
As with all anthologies, Black Swan, White Raven is a mixed bunch, with some stories and I enjoyed and others I was more ambivalent about. That's probably going to be the same for just about anyone, but Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling are legendary SF/F editors for a reason, and that's apparent here.

Reading other reviews for these stories makes me laugh: complaining about the darker aspects of the stories, the fact that sometimes only a few vestiges of the original story (or rather, the story we
3.5 stars rounded up. Decent stories overall, though none stood out that much as to captivate me completely.
Jun 02, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Overall a good collection of fairytale retellings, where some were better than others as you'd expect. I'm a sucker for retellings though, so not really an objective opinion, but on the other hand I can be really critical sometimes and there were no stories here that I really felt failed they're attempt at reinvention or were poorly written. So would definitely recommend to those interested.
Sep 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing
While I adore fantasy, retellings of myths or fairy tales aren’t the flavor that I’d first go for. Other than a handful of really well known classics, I’m not generally familiar with the source material, leaving at least one level of a retelling inaccessible for my appreciation. But, I wasn’t about to pass up a chance to try something a bit different from my favored norm, particularly when Ellen Datlow’s name is attached as editor. Terri Windling is just as respected, but I am far less familiar ...more
Jan 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I've always been fascinated with fairy tales, and this series puts a whole new spin on well loved stories. Most of them are darker retellings, just as a forewarning. I love to read stories I knew as a kid, but revamped for adults. My two favorites were the Rapunzel story and the Snow White retelling. The Snow White retelling is especially chilling because in this version, it is the father and not the step mother who is evil. I definitely recommend this book to all fans of fairy tales!
Kristen Coffin
"Life is the most precious, the most costly, the rarest thing in all the wide desert of stars."


The Flounder's Kiss: Based "The Fisherman and His Wife," which I loosely know. Ending was a little weird.
The Black Fairy's Curse: Based on "Sleeping Beauty." Short, but an interesting look into potential dreams, and whether or not she might want to wake up.
Snow in Dirt: Based on "Sleeping Beauty." Very weird. The intro mentions that it might be futuristic, but I don't know."
Riding the Red: Based on Lit
Russell Bittner
This is a most interesting collection of scrivenings (a word I saw for the first time in my life on p. 115, in “The Trial of Hansel and Gretel” … yes, I know and adore the novella of Herman Melville, “Bartleby the Scrivener,” but never, until just today, had I seen the word “scrivenings.”)

I should provide a caveat lector right up front: I’m not really a fan of Sci-Fi literature. And yet, I bought this book at a second-hand bookstore in NYC’s East Village because it suggested a modern-day tellin
So picked up this anthology touted as adult retellings of fairytales and yes I should have known better as I read other books by this author before but I tried it again, I probably won't again anytime soon LOL so I decided to try something new when I read short stories and that is typing my reviews as I read them which led me to my two star ratings but I attempted each one and here are my thoughts..sigh on to more reading :)
---Flounder’s Kiss-Story about a fisherman and his unhappy wife who wish
May 30, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone over 18; fairy tale lovers and dreamers
22 different stories, all around one fairy tale or another. I wrote status updates for each one.

(view spoiler)

(view spoiler)
Angela DePetris-Phillippe
Fun, exciting stories.

I enjoyed the stories and tales written and give kudos to the writers. I have always liked fairy tales and I loved the new interpretations of old tales. Now on to the next book!
Sep 29, 2014 rated it really liked it
Black Swan, White Raven is a short story anthology of modern, dark fairy tales. What I love about anthologies is that each story is very different than the others. If I don't happen to like one of them, it's quickly done and I can move on, and if the editors do a good job, there won't be one after the other that I don't like. Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling did well in that regard. Also, they did a great job of choosing a first story, "The Flounder's Kiss" by Michael Cadnum, that sucked me in an ...more
Dec 29, 2014 is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, anthology
Hopeful... ? stars...

The Flounder's Kiss by Michael Cadnum * * *
The husband in this rendition of The Fisherman's Wife narrates the story for us, and shows his ability to learn from his mistakes.

The Black Fairy's Curse by Karen Joy Fowler * * *
This fairy tale is a dream sequence, and -like a dream- it changes tales abruptly and without explanation. When the dreamer awakes, she turns out to be sleeping beauty.

Snow in Dirt by Michael Blumlein * *
A vexing and circuitous sleeping beauty story.

Sep 30, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
The concept behind Black Swan, White Raven is simple and beautiful: creative retellings of fairy tales by modern authors. These are not meant to be children’s stories. Many of them depict sex, violence, and other subjects you wouldn’t want to read to your children.

Fairy tales have a sort of fundamental appeal. They’re stories of love and loss, revenge and justice, royalty and peasantry, mundanity and magic. Some have a moral; others are told to explain natural events. Many started out as popular
A Reader's Heaven
(I received a free copy of this book from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.)

Once again, World Fantasy Award–winning editors Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling prove that fairy tales don’t have to be for little children and that happily ever after doesn’t necessarily mean forever. Black Swan, White Raven is Datlow and Windling’s fourth collection of once-familiar and much-beloved bedtime stories reimagined by some of the finest fantasists currently plying their literary trade—acclaimed wr
Being a compilation of short stories (fairytale re-telling) by various authors, it is, inevitably, a mixed bag. That's the good and bad thing, that if you don't like one story the next may still wow you, and also that if you like one it's no guarantee the next will impress you. I love fairytales, love them being retold over and over. I can't pass them up. A quote by George MacDonald (one of my all time favorite authors) from the introduction: "If two or three men sat down to write each what the ...more
Julie G
Nov 29, 2014 rated it liked it
Dark fairy tales are definitely one of my things, so I knew I had to read this fourth in a series of dark fairy tale anthologies (Snow White, Blood Red) edited by Ellen Datlow. This particular ebook is a re-issue of the original 1997 release from Open Road Media, which I'm a huge fan of. Anyway, in every anthology there are stories that you love and stories that fell short. Overall, however, I was quite impressed with the quality of writing found in the anthology. I found quite a few auth
Jan 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ebooks, 2015
Disclaimer: I received an eARC from netgally in exchange for this review.

I've always wanted to read Datlow and Windling's fairy tale series. Color me surprised when I saw this title being re-released?, eBookified?, on netgalley. I collect books on re-imagined fairy tales. I think it's important to honor both the traditional stories from which we've learned important morals from, as well as updating the stories to fit our changing culture. Datlow and Windling have this to say about these stories,
Kyria Collins
Feb 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I bought this book out a couple (or more) times and I actually really liked it. Being a huge fan of fairy tales already, the concept already bought back a strong feeling of nostalgia due to my Mom always reading me whimsical stories of Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, Jack and the Beanstalk, Rapunzel, Red Riding Hood, Snow White, etc. and how it shaped my imagination into what it is today. Then the second concept of putting a moodier, darker, more adult-like and realistic spin on all of them ma ...more
This anthology is definitely a mixed bag of nuts. There is sometimes a fairy tale element, sometimes not. What most of the stories have in common is that women are given short shrift. Too many feature females as evil, victimized or peripheral. One story nearly omits the woman’s voice altogether, reciting a droning theme of abandonment as dry and dusty as an academician’s thesis. There is a list of recommendations in the back that may lead the more discerning reader to more gender-balanced choice ...more
Nov 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I read this first in hardcover several years ago. I just read it again in Kindle format. It was just as good the second time through. I liked some stories better than others, which is par for the course in an anthology, but I did like it overall. Even the stories I didn't like so much were interesting to read for their take on the retelling of the tale in question.

I think that one of my favorite picks is "Godmother Death" by Jane Yolen. The language and rhythm go well with the story. It's short,
N.W. Moors
Nov 15, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I got this anthology because I love all things Anne Bishop and she has a story in here. I found it a mixed bag, but on the whole I enjoyed most of the stories. This anthology is a retelling of classic and old fairy tales, some by well-known authors like Jane Yolen and Joyce Carol Oates and others I didn't know.
Anne Bishop's Rapunzel retelling is a favorite, told in multiple POVs. I also liked Michael Cadman's The Flounder's Kiss, On Lickerish Hill by Susanna Clarke, True Thomas by Bruce Glassco,
Alysa H.
Oct 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
One in a series of six anthologies of "Fairy Tales for Adults" compiled by editors Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling, this collection is staggering in its variety and in its impact. First published in the 1990s, it's not at all dated in 2014-2015 -- not even the stories that take place in a contemporary or sci-fi world, and of course not the ones that are set in an imagined 'once upon a time'.

I found almost every piece included here to be great, though different readers' mileage may vary according
Jan 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
Back in the 1990's, Datlow and Windling started publishing collections of retold fairy tales. I purchased several of these collections, but never got all of them. So I am very glad that Open Media has been reissuing these titles! Black Swan, White Raven is the fourth title in this series and one that I had not purchased or read. In the book you have a interesting collection of tales retold for a modern audience that manipulates the tale in fashions that can startle a gasp or a laugh. One such ta ...more
Oct 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Dark fantasy and horror lovers
This is a terrific anthology of grown-up fairy tales with a dark side to it. Fairy tales were originally for adults not for children until the Victorian age where fairy tales were "cleaned up." This is also a great way for you to meet authors if you haven't read that many fairy tales. It shows you a different aspect of the author's writings. Also one can go to the next story if you don't like the one you are reading.

Personally, I love this anthology. It's my "cup of tea." This is a must read hor
Aug 10, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm slowly working my way through every single one of the fairy tale collections by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling. I like fairy tales, and I like it when authors do interesting things with fairy tales, rather than just accepting the easy explanation. I liked some of the stories. I didn't like others. I enjoyed that some of the authors chose less well known stories (such as The Tinderbox) to retell.

Trigger warning: (view spoiler)
Oct 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed reading this anthology of fairy tale inspired short stories and poems. I have read numerous anthologies edited by Ms Datlow and Ms. Windling - they are both impressive editors with a fine and discriminating sense of selection.

The topics of the pieces varied, and the tone ranged from humorous to serious. The pieces are well written and are still entertaining today though the anthology was first published over seventeen years ago.

If you're interested in adult fairy tale inspired
Anna Rebecca
Jun 23, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book easily makes it into the list of worst books I've ever had the misfortune to read. The book states that it is a collection of retellings of fairytales. Most of the stories had nothing in common with the fairytales they were retelling. Perhaps a minor detail, two if you were lucky, reflected the original story. Otherwise these stories had no relation and were of merely average writing. None of these stories were even worth mentioning individually! Unless you are desperate, do not even b ...more
Jan 11, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is definitely a mixed bag. Some of the stories were fantastic and I really enjoyed them. Others were more in the meh category, or were in the realm of I don't know what the hell was going on there. But, they all made me think and are therefore really well worth a read. These stories make you rethink what you know, how you've always seen the world and are an inspiration if you are struggling to write or create. What could be more wonderful?
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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

Other books in the series

Adult Fairy Tales (6 books)
  • Snow White, Blood Red
  • Black Thorn, White Rose
  • Ruby Slippers, Golden Tears
  • Silver Birch, Blood Moon (Adult Fairy Tales #5)
  • Black Heart, Ivory Bones
“The French fairy tale writers were so popular and prolific that when their stories were eventually collected in the 18th century, they filled forty–one volumes of a massive publication called the Cabinet des Fées. Charles Perrault is the French fairy tale writer whom history has singled out for attention, but the majority of tales in the Cabinet des Fées were penned by women writers who ran and attended the leading salons: Marie–Catherine d’Aulnoy, Henriette Julie de Murat, Marie–Jeanne L'Héritier, and numerous others. These were educated women with an unusual degree of social and artistic independence, and within their use of the fairy tale form one can find distinctly subversive, even feminist subtext.” 11 likes
“Though now we think of fairy tales as stories intended for very young children, this is a relatively modern idea. In the oral tradition, magical stories were enjoyed by listeners young and old alike, while literary fairy tales (including most of the tales that are best known today) were published primarily for adult readers until the 19th century.” 10 likes
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