Review – How to Fracture a Fairy Tale, by Jane Yolen

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How to Fracture a Fairy Tale
by Jane Yolen

Genre: Short Stories, Retellings

Length: 240 Pages

Release date: November 5, 2018

Publisher: Tachyon Publications

Synopsis:

Fantasy legend Jane Yolen (The Emerald Circus, The Devil’s Arithmetic) delights with this effortlessly wide-ranging offering of fractured fairy tales. Yolen fractures the classics to reveal their crystalline secrets, holding them to the light and presenting them entirely transformed; where a spinner of straw into gold becomes a money-changer and the big bad wolf retires to a nursing home. Rediscover the fables you once knew, rewritten and refined for the world we now live in―or a much better version of it.

rating

three

My thanks to NetGalley and Tachyon Publications for sending me an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and are not influenced by the publisher.

I have mixed feelings about this anthology, making it difficult to give it an overall rating that feels accurate. There were a few stories that I really enjoyed, but a few too many that never sufficiently grabbed my interest. I love fractured fairy tales, and think I was looking for more drastic changes from the original source material in some cases. What’s the point of writing a retelling without turning the whole story upside-down and making us think about it in a totally new light?

One thing that I loved about this collection was the sheer variety of stories and cultures represented. This anthology includes dragons, princesses, a vampire, and even time travel; you will find stories that feel like they could have been plucked out of a Brothers Grimm book as well as much more modern tales. The Jewish themes seemed to be the most prominent throughout the anthology, but Yolen has reworked tales from Europe, Asia, and more.

Here is a small sampling of the sources of inspiration for some of Yolen’s stories:

  • The Bridge’s Complaint – Billy Goats Gruff, Norwegian
  • One Ox, Two Ox, Three Ox, and the Dragon King – Chinese dragon stories
  • Brother Hart – Brothers Grimm story (Little Brother Little Sister)
  • Sun/Flight – Icarus, Greek Mythology
  • The Foxwife – figure from Japanese folklore
  • The Faery Flag – Scottish folklore
  • One Old Man, With Seals – Greek mythology
  • The Undine – inspired by Little Mermaid and various French stories
  • Sister Death – Jewish myth
  • The Woman Who Loved a Bear – Native American myth

The stories vary quite a bit in tone; many of them use somewhat antiquated language, while the occasional tale reads like something a friend is telling you over coffee. These differences helped to break up the anthology and keep it from feeling overly uniform or repetitive. The variety assures that there will be something in this collection for just about everyone. Whether you’re looking for something totally re-imagined, something with a classical feel, something whimsical, or something dark, you’ll find it somewhere in these pages.

Purchase links

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Thank you for reading! What is your favorite retelling of a classic fairy tale? Discuss in the comments!

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Review – On Burning Mirrors, by Jamie Klinger-Krebs

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On Burning Mirrors 
by Jamie Klinger-Krebs

Genre: LGBTQ, Contemporary Fiction

Length: 450 Pages

Released: April 20, 2018

Blurb via GoodReads: 

Jules Kanter is a wife, a mother and a successful journalist; but she’s completely fallen for the subject of her latest story—a talented musician/bartender named Erin. While plagued with guilt over an affair that causes her to question her sexuality, coupled with the fear of hurting everyone she loves, Jules pours her emotions into her writing. But, she never imagined her words would be discovered when she wasn’t there to explain them.

ratingthree

I want to preface this review by saying that I seem to be in a minority opinion when it comes to this book; it currently has a very respectable 4.26 average on GoodReads, but I’d personally place it in the 2.5-3 range. So, if the premise sounds interesting to you, take my somewhat critical review with a grain of salt. This may also have to be a bit vague, as some of the issues that took away from my enjoyment of the book had to do with plot points rather than writing style. I will aim for only being specific in terms of plot when it comes to things that happen very early in the narrative; you won’t be reading any plot twists here.

I was cautiously optimistic going into this book. Representation was cause for optimism, but one half of the lesbian couple being dead from the word “go” tempered my excitement a bit. (Bury Your Gays, anyone?) Jules dies in a car accident on the way home from visiting her lover, Erin. The manner of her death may seem incidental, but to anyone familiar with the BYG trope, it may have thrown up some red flags. While it was a matter of a chance accident, the timing of the accident means that Jules’ death was an indirect result of falling in love with Erin. Gay characters often die in fiction as a direct or indirect result of their relationships; it’s depressing at worst, and simply overdone at best.

Jules’ death turns Erin’s and Will’s worlds upside-down. In order to better understand the woman they’ve both loved and lost, they attempt to work past their differences and begin to form a hesitant bond. It was interesting to watch this play out, particularly in terms of how Will’s character evolved from (in my opinion) a rather intensely unlikable person to someone who was trying to practice empathy despite his own heartache.

Erin evolved throughout the story as well, and easily becomes the best developed character of the novel, with a detailed background and significant growth. There was one major narrative blip when it come to Erin towards the end of the novel, which I won’t spoil here, but I will say that it felt jarring and unnatural and didn’t add anything of value to the story.

On Burning Mirrors is a story of secrets, grief, and healing. Erin and Will both struggle to find a way to move past the loss of a woman that neither of them feels like they ever truly had to begin with. It is a story of finding closure in the face of unexpected loss.

I received a free review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and not influenced by the publisher. 

Purchase links

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