Plot Summary: The sixteen fairy tales in this collection are either re-imagined classics or conjured from the ether by author Angela Slatter. With a not-so-subtle emphasis on female heroines, each story turns the idea of a “happily ever after” ending with Prince Charming on its head. For some of these ladies, their happy ending comes after they’ve escaped from their so-called beloved, and what’s more, they’re not passively sitting around in towers or castles waiting for things to happen to them.
[To my regular readers: Do you recall when I mentioned this book in one of my Friday News posts a few months back? At the time I was moaning and groaning that I couldn't read it because I'd literally have to order it from Australia, but the publisher followed up with me a few weeks later and said it was now available from Amazon. I placed my order that same day, despite the $17.99 price tag for a paperback!, and I have to say that it was money well-spent.]
After I had my first dark, delicious taste of Angela Slatter’s idea of a fairy tale in her first story, “Bluebeard,” I was addicted to The Girl With No Hands. I wanted to slow down and savor these potent little creations, but I could not stop reading, and now all I want to do is go back and reread them again. I love fairy tales, and I still have all of the old books that I used to read as a kid, but I think those cherished memories are going to take a backseat to this collection.
Ms. Slatter, who is a Writer with a capital W, has done two things that I absolutely adore. First, she removed the old morals, codes, and rules that have governed fairy tales ever since they were put on paper. Before they were appropriated for childhood indoctrination, fairy tales used to be wild, haunting, fantastical stories that were not really fit for children at all. This book restores them to realm of adults, and while doing so, Ms. Slatter also questions the notion that people are black or white, right or wrong, good or bad. I like it when characters are painted in shades of grey rather than absolutes, and it makes for powerful storytelling.
I just loved this book, and I’m not normally one to enjoy short story collections, but I guess this proves that I’ll never be too old for a fairy tale.