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Black Thorn, White Rose

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  1,684 ratings  ·  78 reviews
The award-winning editors of Snow White, Blood Red return us to distinctly adult realms of myth and the fantastic -- with 18 wondrous works that cloak the magical fictions we heard at grandma's knee in mantles of darkness and dr
Paperback, 381 pages
Published November 1st 2007 by Wildside Press (first published September 1st 1994)
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Average rating 3.89  · 
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 ·  1,684 ratings  ·  78 reviews

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I read the first five stories in the collection and then called it quits. I love Patricia Wrede's story "Stronger Than Time," which I've read in other anthologies and may be one of my all-time favorite short stories. I also liked Nancy Kress's "Words Like Pale Stones," which did a good job of pulling the inherent but unspoken danger out of the underlying tale into the main story.

I didn't particularly like the others I read and am less interested in the rest of the collection as a result. I
Fantasy Literature
Mar 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
For any reader interested in the origins of fairy tales, this series of retellings is excellent reading! But be warned - the original tales were often very dark; reading these books is setting off into a dark, menacing wood of ominous twisted trees with only your red cape and wits for company.

Overall, this collection was more uneven than the first book Snow White, Blood Red but there are some good stories that make up for the weaker entries (please see my review of the first book for a list of
Althea Ann
Jun 09, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 spin
Not the best installment in the series, and can't say I liked any retelling of those included. "The Brown Bear from Norway" was one I did find interesting, and that was it.
Jul 21, 2010 rated it liked it
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. Its 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 rated it it was ok
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 ...more
Nov 28, 2009 rated it liked it
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
Vincent Carlucci
Sep 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
As usual with a collection of stories you like some more than others but most of these stories are very good with only one real clunker. The stories by Nancy Kress and Roger Zelazny, who are both well-known SF writers, are very good. Stories by Midori Snyder, Storm Constantice, and Susan Wade I particularly enjoyed, and I was surprised that they are not better known. The one I didn't care for was "The Sawing Boys" by Howard Waldrop. Reading this story I found it very hard to believe it was ...more
Aug 10, 2011 rated it did not like it
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.
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 .
Nov 06, 2015 rated it liked it
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!
Sep 30, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fairy-tale
There were only 1 or 2 stories in this collection worth reading.
Jun 04, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling assemble a second collection of darker fairy tales within the pages of Black Thorn, White Rose. A variant of Rumpelstiltskin begins the volume under the title "Stronger Than Time," which sees the old spinster tricked into gaining a young apprentice. The legend of a sleeping beauty gets a 19th century update - and a hilarious romantic comedy twist - during "Somnus's Fair Maid." The titular "Frog King, or Iron Henry" is fighting amnesia over his current predicament, ...more
Words Like Pale Stones by Nancy Kress (3/5 stars)
This was a version of Rumpelstiltskin. It was okay, had some darkness to it and a bit of a twist. In this version the woman wants Rumplestiltskin to take her child away.

Stronger Than Time by Patricia C. Wrede (4/5 stars)
A prince asks for a woodmans help in breaching Sleeping Beautys castle. When they find the princess the woodcutter finds the prince is not what he seems to be. This was a decent story and very sweet.

Somnuss Fair Maid by Ann Downer
Jenni DaVinCat
Apr 10, 2019 rated it it was ok
After reading 2 books in this series of books, I think I'm going to pass on the remaining 4. Compared to the first book, this one was much more tame in terms of dark sexuality, but as with the first book, there were very few stories that I found to be interesting.

There are 2 stories in the last 3/4 of the book that are quite good. Godson and Sweet Bruising Skin were very clever and well written, but those 2 good stories weren't quite enough to draw me into wanting to read more from this series
Feb 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

There may be a couple stories in this book that don't quite grab my attention but on the whole they're all pretty darn good. Really enjoyed The Sawing Boys by Howard Waldrop, which was a retelling of The Musicians of Bremerton with a Depression era Kentucky flavor. Nancy Kress's Words Like Pale Stones and Patricia Wrede's Stronger Than Time were lovely even if the endings weren't what I expected or entirely happy. Tattercoats by Midori Snyder was another really great story about a
Lisa Feld
The first anthology in this series really blew the doors off modern fantasy, and I think any sequel would be doomed to a degree of sophomore slump. Most of these were just not to my taste, more cynical than the stories in Snow White, Blood Red. But there are some gems here: Isabel Cole's "Brown Bear of Norway," Tim Wynne-Jones's subversive "The Goose Girl," where the prince sourly points out some of the more problematic aspects of the classic story, and Jane Yolen's "Granny Rumple," which ...more
Apr 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
I'm a longtime lover of modern retellings of fairy tales, and this collection has some wonderful ones! I didn't give it 5 stars because a couple of the stories were not my favourite (not unusual in a collection), but would have given it 4.5 if I could have. These two editors have a clear and deep grasp of what makes a good fairy tale, and I would (and do) read anything they put their names to.

I also loved the discussion of fairy tales in the Introduction, and the little blurb about each author
Oct 14, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I was expecting stories that were ominous and dark, like the originals. I was expecting complex, intricate plots with layers of meaning. I was hoping to think about some of them after setting the book down.

I didn't get any of that. It's a YA collection, folks. Some are creative - I liked a gender-reversal in one story, a different point of view in another, and a continuation that took one well past the usual ending... but it wasn't enough.
Kest Schwartzman
Dec 18, 2019 rated it it was ok
this is a spotty collection, but also lacks any stand out stories. I would be willing to read some duds to get to some stars. I finished this book less than a week ago, and I've already forgotten most of the stories because they were just so... bland.

I read these collections because usually there's a least one or two stories that are good enough to look up the authors and find more of their work. Not so, here.
Zelda Elizabeth
Aug 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A anthology of twisted dark versions of our favourite childhood fairytails. I enjoyed every single one. Would highly reccomended to those of you with a twisted imagination another great book i didnt want to end
Sep 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I genuinely enjoy all of the fairy tale collections, fantasy compilations, etc. put together by these two editors and this one was no exception. They capture a certain feel that's very hard to find these days, offering a great escape from reality. This particular collection was fairy tales.
An extensive variety of stories from different authors; I had very different reactions to each of them. Some I really liked, some I struggled to get through. I would say worth reading, but not worth going out of your way to read.
Diane Heath
3 1/2. Varied stories. Some good some only so-so
Lisa Tollefson
Dec 22, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
Some of the stories were really great, others I didn't care for. I loved the last one best, but my absolute favorite part was the short bios at the end
Zelda Elizabeth
Dec 12, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
certainly not the fairytales I was told when I was younger.

all the fairytales we love with dark twists definitely not child appropriate really enjoyed this book.
Jun 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Reading these stories was pure escapist pleasure. I enjoyed every minute and was sad when the book ended.
Oct 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, fiction
This is definitely the best of Datlows anthologies that I have read. The stories were outstanding. Cant wait for the next one! ...more
Nancy Meservier
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 anthologies, ...more
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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

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