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Black Thorn, White Rose

(The "Snow White, Blood Red" Series #2)

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  1,722 ratings  ·  87 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 dread. From Roger Zelansky's delightful tale of Death's disobedient godson to Peter Straub's blood-chilling examination of a gargantuan Cinderella an ...more
Paperback, 381 pages
Published November 1st 2007 by Wildside Press (first published September 1st 1994)
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Average rating 3.88  · 
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Black Thorn, White Rose is an anthology of 18 adult fairy tales, most of them pretty dark. It was, like always, a mixed bag with some stories better than others. There could have been a bit more balance between what was on offer.

I always find it nice to have one of these on the back burner, to read a few chapters in between books.
If you love fairy tale re-tellings, this is certainly something to look into.

There is a whole series of these and all are available on Scribd.

3.4 stars
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 thin
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 mys
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 sp
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. ...more
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. It’s 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 ag ...more
2.5 stars. I've had this book for at least 20 years, and have never felt compelled to read it. I read the intro a few years ago and skimmed the table of contents with the intent of giving it a try or getting rid of it. I gave it a place of honor, among the books on my bedside table—where it sat unread for over three years. When a friend invited me to join a Read or Die challenge group, this was one of the first books I added to my stack of 12 to either read this year or give away. It took 3 week ...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 writt ...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
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 . ...more
Nov 06, 2015 rated it liked it
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
Mar 27, 2021 rated it really liked it
Over the last few months, I've been collecting the beautiful hardcover editions of Windling and Datlow's fairy tale anthologies. The earlier editions were all illustrated by Thomas Canty, whose dreamy "new romantic" art style can be found on the covers of many 1980s-1990s fantasy novels. I've been collecting this series as much for the art as for the stories - but as with all anthologies, the stories collected within "Black Thorn, White Rose" are a bit of a mixed bag.

Some of the stories really m
“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 woodman’s help in breaching Sleeping Beauty’s 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.

“Somnus’s Fair Maid” by A
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 s
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 husba
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 retell ...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 b
May 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
After reading Snow White, Blood Red, I knew that I needed the other books which were edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling featuring fairy tale retellings. Because these aren’t the retellings that you would expect. And they’re not the kinds of retellings that make you feel all nice and fluffy on the inside. They’re dark and twisted in places. Sexual in others. And just downright make you think most of the time.

Many of the authors in this collection are ones that I have already come across. W
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.
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. ...more
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
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.
Laureen Pew
Apr 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
This was a good collection of stories that were retellings of fairytales or inspired by fairytales. My two favorites were Tattercoats, Granny Rumple and the Black Swan. Some of the stories were less successful for me, but that is to be expected in an anthology.
Nov 04, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Some of these retellings were eerie and plagued your thoughts afterwards. Some were just plain confusing and lacking. A long problem I will always have with a book of short stories is that I will never like them all. And it does pose a problem sometimes reading and finishing it.
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Ellen Datlow has been editing science fiction, fantasy, and horror short fiction for forty years as fiction editor of OMNI Magazine and editor of Event Horizon and SCIFICTION. She currently acquires short stories and novellas for In addition, she has edited about one hundred science fiction, fantasy, and horror anthologies, including the annual The Best Horror of the Year series, The Doll ...more

Other books in the series

The "Snow White, Blood Red" Series (6 books)
  • Snow White, Blood Red
  • Ruby Slippers, Golden Tears
  • Black Swan, White Raven
  • Silver Birch, Blood Moon
  • Black Heart, Ivory Bones

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