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Black Thorn, White Rose

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Format: Paperback

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Book Overview

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... This description may be from another edition of this product.

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

Fascinating adult fairytales

As Datlow and Windling make clear in their foreword, fairytales were not originally intended for children. While I've never minded the Disneyfication of these stories - do we really want six-year-olds watching the ugly stepsisters hack off their own toes? - there is something marvelously gothic that is lost for the adult reader. BLACK THORN, WHITE ROSE finds that gothic brilliance and twists it, exploring new tales in old stories that are heartwrenching, brilliant and entertaining, almost without exception. A few highlights: "Stronger Than Time" by Patricia C. Wede retells Sleeping Beauty with a twist even I didn't expect, and a bittersweet beauty undreamt-of by Aurora and her Prince. Try a Jewish take on Rumpelstiltskin with "Granny Rumple" by Jane Yolen, or the strangely compelling "Godson" by Roger Zelazny. Peter Straub disturbs us with "Ashputtle" and its bizarre schoolmarm. "Words Like Pale Stones" is the best retelling of Rumpelstilskin I have yet read, with kudos to author Nancy Kress. I didn't personally care for "Somnus's Fair Maid," another Sleeping Beauty that reads like a regency romance without the sex. There are many who would, however - it's just that regency isn't my bag. "The Frog King, or Iron Henry" by Daniel Quinn was a bit too repetitive, too circular for my taste, though that was obviously the point of it. I think my favorite was probably "Sweet Bruising Skin" by Storm Constantine, a retelling of the princess and the pea from the queen mother's point of view - and we can see it her way. But the most heartwrenching is indubitably "The Black Swan" by Susan Wade, who follows Constantine with another story of women's attempts to remain beautiful and the price they pay for it. It closes this anthology with the perfect mix of sorrow and rejoicing. The key is that each story was unique, a vision of the old stories that is so different as to render the underlying fable irrelevant. They may have been inspired by Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and that poor girl sleeping on the pea, but their execution is focused through the prism of the varied minds brought together in this book. The result is a fascinating anthology, definitely worth your time. Read the full review in CultureGeek:

A fascinating collection

I am done with Black Thorn, White Rose and overall I liked it. :) The stories I really enjoyed were Stronger Than Time (Sleeping Beauty based), Somnus's Fair Maiden (Sleeping Beauty based), Tattercoats (big favorite for adults, with some sexual scenes and a wonderful message about trying to keep love, passion and communication going in a marriage), Granny Rumple (Rumplestiltskin based with a twist about Jews), Godson (big fave - I think based on Cinderella and the fairy godmother), Silver and Gold (another big favorite; it's a poem about Little Red Riding Hood and the metaphorical dangers we meet everyday) and The Black Swan (based on the Swan Princess and females trying to meet the contemporary standards for beauty). Some stories I didn't know before so I couldn't compare it in my head, but they were good stories in themselves. :)

Back in print

For those interested, Black Thorn, White Rose has just been reissued in trade paperback by Prime Books with new cover art and design.

The best of this series I've read yet...

...Now, admittedly, I'm only halfway through the series. I've read _Black Heart, Ivory Bones_ and _Ruby Slippers, Golden Tears_, liked them both for the most part, and yet this volume (second in the series, chronologically) tops them both. There are so many wonderful are some of the highlights:"Stronger Than Time", a poignant take on Sleeping Beauty, sad yet hopeful."Somnus' Fair Maid", Sleeping Beauty again; this time it's a delightful Regency romp. No supernatural elements, but plenty of magic."The Brown Bear of Norway", a touching teen romance between a lonely girl and her mysterious pen pal."Tattercoats"--this is what comes _after_ "happily ever after". The Princess has been married to her beloved for ten years, and their marriage has become a dull routine...but she is going to fight for it, with the help of three magical gifts. Sexy, sexy, very sexy, and also made me cry."Godson", in which a young man has the Grim Reaper himself as a mentor. They fall out over whether certain people should be spared. Darkly comic; the ending is hilarious."The Black Swan"--seems to be a blend of Cinderella, Swan Lake, and Pygmalion. A pretentious serving-man trains an awkward princess in social graces and gives her a makeover; this story is both a heartbreaking tale of shapeshifting, and a barbed commentary on beauty standards of any time.And the trouble is, I just know I'm going to think of three more stories I loved as soon as I log off the computer. BUY THIS BOOK. All these incredible stories, and cheap! LOL...

Once upon a time fairy tales were for adults

Many people don't realize that the fairy tales we grew up on were not always stories aimed at children. As is discussed in the forward of this book, the original fairy tales were frequently much darker and disturbing than the ones we are familiar with today. Sleeping Beauty, for example, is not brought awake by the chaste kiss of Prince Charming but rather the suckling of the twin babies she has born, having been impregnated by the less-than-charming prince while she slept. It was only during the Victorian period, when realism became the fashion, that these stories were relegated by men to the domain of women and children, being sanitized in the process so as not to upset the more delicate sensibilities. This anthology, along with its companion volumes, returns the fairy tale to its roots. In doing so it strikes a chord deep within us. The stories contained within are both familiar and strange at the same time. Because of this they are sometimes eerily disturbing, sometimes heart-wrenchingly poignant, always entertaining. The one drawback of this collection, as with any anthology, is that style and quality vary according to author. The good news is that most of these stories are very well written and if you run across one you don't like, you can always move on to the next. If you're looking for something enjoyable to read, you could do far worse than this collection. Overall I strongly recommend this book.
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