Denise Little

Books: Fantasy | Editor


Twice Upon A Time (1999), Rotten Relations (2004)

Twice Upon A Time (1999) edited by Denise Little

Fairy tales seen from another perspective--the wife of the giant from the story of Jack and the Beanstalk. The hunter in the tale of Little Red Riding Hood. The Wolf who appears in multiple tales.

This book is hit and miss. Some of the stories are excellent, others are so-so. The idea of retold fairy tales is an excellent one, unfortunately not all the stories in this collection were able to pull it off as well as it should be done.

(What I found interesting is that although no single story was a retelling of Hansel and Gretel, they still managed to show up in several different tales.)

Nina Kirki Hoffman's "How I Came to Marry a Herpetologist" was one of the stories I did like. It's the tale of what happened to the girl who had reptiles fall from her lips as she spoke, after the fairy tale ended. It's a story I think Erin would like, as she has addressed this story in her poetry.

Jane Lindskold's "The Beanstalk Incident" was also a story I really liked. It relates the criminal suit against Jack (of Jack and the Beanstalk) by the wife of the Giant. This tale also looks at the story from what happened after the story ended--in this case looking at the moral character of Jack, who really doesn't come off all that well in the original story.

"Savior" by John Helfers is another excellent story--a short-short just four pages long. If I told you the plot it would take more words than the tale, so I'll just recommend it.

Another short-short is Tim Waggoner's "The Castle and Jack" is another look at Jack and the Beanstalk. I guess there's something about the tale that made authors want to take revenge against Jack.

The other tale I really liked was Jacey Bedford's "Baron Boscov's Bastard" which was a Cinderella tale of sorts, only without all the cutting off of heels and toes. Not that there's anything wrong with a little blood in a folktale. After all, it wouldn't be a fairy tale if everyone didn't get what they deserved.

Of the rest of the tales, some were good, some less so. I'd pick it up if I saw it used, but I don't think it's worth the $6.99 cover price.

Rating: 5/10

Rotten Relations (2004) edited by Denise Little

Rotten RelationsI was really disappointed in this collection. I had, as the song goes, high hopes, but was, in the end, let down.

I picked up the book because the idea of it sounded great: villains from fairy tales and literature telling their side of the story (much like Gregory Maguire's Wicked I believe.)

As with Twice Upon a Time, we got stories based on the same tales, several times, when there are so many other stories out there besides Cinderella, and I can only take so much of Cinderella.

 There are some good stories in this collection, such as Josepha Sherman's The Trick of the Trickster's Tricked, where we get to see the wife of Iktome, Spider, and what she's learned, living with a trickster for so long. Josepha Sherman got the Trickster tale tone perfectly. I also liked Von Jocks Thrice Told, which reminded me of a story I heard on Selected Shorts. However many of the stories came across as half-hearted attempts of the evil-doer to justify their actions.

No offense, but there's enough of that in the news and media, I don't need it in my fantasy.

Rating: 3/10