The Starlit Wood
Once upon a time. It’s how so many of our most beloved stories start.
Fairy tales have dominated our cultural imagination for centuries. From the Brothers Grimm to the Countess d’Aulnoy, from Charles Perrault to Hans Christian Anderson, s ...more
A twisted fairy-tale with a great message.
Two heroines, each trapped in her own tale. One is a prisoner on a glass hill, the other – doomed to walk the world in iron shoes, until she had worn down seven pair. But no one cursed them to this fate – each chose it herself. It’s supposed to be an atonement, or a way to protect the world. The world tells them it is their fault, and they believe it. It is Amira’s fault men can’t ...more
Ironically, this was the last story I read in my Nebula short story marathon.
The story introduces two women and their own unique issues and situations. The story is set in a medieval fantasy world filled with mysterious magic and elements. The underlying theme is about letting go and moving forward(?) even though it is a scary thing to do. It is also about finding love(?). I am really not very sure. This is one of those tales which tells ...more
The message overtakes the story a bit, in this allegorical piece. We're introduced to two fairytale tropes. One woman is cursed to have to wear out seven pairs of magical iron shoes. The other sits at the top of a glass mountain, while uncouth suitors attempt to scale the summit. Friendship and female empowerment will free them both from the unfair demands of men.
**** In the Desert Like a Bone • Seanan McGuire
It's a story of two females locked into rather interesting mythological stories, both of them trapped in both painful and degrading situations and eventually finding solace and freedom in each other.
The mythos, itself is a curious blend of old tales, such as having to wear out seven pairs of metal shoes before being able to break her husband's bear-curse or in the other case, having being forced upon a mountaint ...more
There's some great writers here: Naomi Novik, Kat Howard, Seanan McGuire, Daryl Gregory...and so on. They've all brought an inventive eye to putting a new spin on some of our oldest stories; even the stories I wasn't enjoying were at least creative.
Some of my favourites; The super ultra duchess of fedora f ...more
It's hard to enjoy a retelling for what it is when you either only vaguely recognize the name of the fairytale or have never heard of one in your entire life. Which was the case with more than half of the fairytale retellings in this book. Killed it for me.
I know only the most popular ones and I haven't read the complete works of the Brothers Grimm or Hans Christian Anderson. My general expectation from this book was fun retellings like Naomi Novik's Spinning Silver of the famous fairytales lik ...more
I love fairytale retellings/the retelling genre overall, so I was super excited to finally get around to The Starlit Wood. On the whole, I do generally enjoy short story collections (I know some people don't and I understand why; short stories can sometimes be underdeveloped and frustrating), and I freely admit I had high hopes for this one. It certainly helps that this book is gorgeously designed, fashioned with an imitation old-style spine that would be at home in an old library, an ...more
Bonus points for the stunning cover. ...more
There was one line in this book that startled a laugh out of me: In "Giants in the Sky" by Max Gladstone, on page 195, the narrator says, "I'm not asking you to solve quantum gravity ...more
Although it ...more
It recently came across my radar that Naomi Novik, of the breaktaking Uprooted, would be putting out a book later this year called Spinning Silver, which would be an expanded take on the 30-page short story of the same title in this collection. That was enough for me to snap it up, and other stories by the likes of Garth Nix and Max Gladstone were extra treats.
A few notes about the collection as a whole. First, these are not "new" fairy ...more
Beautifully written, both moody / dream-like and very palpable at times. The imagery was great (particularly the apple). I guess a part of me would have liked it to be a little more explicitly queer/a little less didactic, but then, aren't fairy-tales didactic by default? So in a way, it fits.
Seanan McGuire, "In the Desert Like a Bone": McGuire's strengths - atmosphere, creativity, and crystalline prose - are perhaps best displayed in her short fiction. In her novels, I find myself unconvinced by her characters and annoyed a ...more
I didn't enjoy all the stories, some were difficult to enter or too much strange or boring for my tastes. On another hand, some were delightful or very well thought, with original settings (space, wild west, drugs, etc) or insights about society problems, giving some fun to the read and adding twists to the stories. On average, my rating should be 3.5stars, but it's a satisfying collection with a not so easy choice ...more
Good story. Well-developed. A finalist for 2017 Hugo Award for short stories.
“Magic is magic is magic and there is always a stronger magic.”
Contrary to the tag, not a “gay” story. It’s a story “about two women reaching out of their respective tales,” the author says in her notes. “The enormity of what friendship means.” I try to read stories cold--that is ...more
The two female protagonists of this story are both bound by their fairytale curses, and they must decide whether it's worth leaving them behind. I loved how this story was a classic fairytale and yet the opposite of one, and it also referenced many other stories about women and curses.
That being said... I roll my eyes at the Wikipedia s ...more
My favorite story was the Sleeping Beauty re-telling "The Briar and the Rose" by Marjorie Liu. It was an interesting premise and I loved the protagonists.
Special mention of "The Badgirl, The Deadman and the Wheel of Fortune" by Cathrynne M. Valente for being the only fiction by this author that I've read in which I thought ...more
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Even the crumbs were delicious
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ The super ultra duchess of Fedora Forest
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Seasons of glass and iron
⭐️⭐️ Badgirl, the Deadman and the wheel of fortune
⭐️⭐️⭐️ Penny for a match, Mister?
⭐️⭐️⭐️ Some wait
⭐️⭐️⭐️ The Thousand Eyes
I was reading st ...more
An excellent anthology with lovely, intricate illustrations. (Take a peek at a few on the illustrator's website.) Most times with collections I'm prepared to trudge th ...more
Way before I joined Gr's, reading anthologies was a favourite _ well sometimes only _ way to discover new authors; now, not so much. Now, my TBR list has reached such an unmanageable dimension that most times I don't even go looking for new books.
But... as most of you know, I may have a slight obsession with fairy tale retellings; that means that when a book with a title and cover such as this one, is released, I read it. And hope for the best.
In the Desert Like a Bone by Seanan McGuire 3.5 ...more
This story in its essentials, felt like a modern day retelling of two Brothers Grimm fairy tales - Bearskin and Old Rinkrank that I barely remember from my childhood (my memory might as well be wrong here). What I loved about the narrative was the ambiguity that followed Tabitha and Amira, like they were already part of a well expanded universe, the details of which readers are free to imagine. In this retell ...more
His work has appeared in The Fiddlehead, The Humber Literary Review, Arc Poetry Magazine, Quill & Quire, Uncanny Magazine, Strange Hori ...more