Tanith Lee

Books: Fantasy


Snow White, Blood Red (1993), Ruby Slippers, Golden Tears (1995), Warrior Enchantresses (1996), A Wolf at the Door (2000), The Green Man : Tales from the Mythic Forest (2002),Year's Best Fantasy 2 (2002), Swan Sister (2003), Year's Best Fantasy 3 (2003), The Faery Reel: Tales from the Twilight Realm (2004), Emerald Magic (2004), Year's Best Fantasy 4 (2004), Outsiders: 22 All-New Stories From the Edge (2005), Winter Moon (2005), Year's Best Fantasy 5 (2005), Firebirds Rising (2006), By Blood We Live (2009), Full Moon City (2010), Vampires: The Recent Undead (2010), The Beastly Bride: Tales of the Animal People (2010), Teeth: Vampire Tales (2011), Under My Hat: Tales from the Cauldron (2012)

Snow White, Blood Red (1993) edited by Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling

I often have a hard time putting down interesting books. Which means that if I’m reading a book I real like before bed, I end up staying up past my bed time instead of falling asleep. One solution is to read non-fiction before bed. The other solution is to read short story anthologies. Unfortunately, there are not a lot of high quality anthologies out there. At least, not enough to keep up with the rate at which I can read.

So I decided to go back and reread Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling's fantasy anthology Snow White, Blood Red. This book has a whole bunch of things going for it at once: it's edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling; it's got stories by Neil Gaiman and Charles de Lint; and the stories are retellings or reinventions of folk and fairy tales. Mostly fairy tales in this book.

Plus, a gorgeous cover by Thomas Canty.

For those who are unfamiliar with folk tales and fairy tales, many of the original tales--before they got cleaned up and given to kids--were filled with sex, (in addition to the casual violence of people getting eyes poked out or chopping off bits of feet or being shoved into ovens.)

In other words, these are not stories for children.

Also, the stories I liked less tended towards horror. This book is a collection of fantasy and horror (as are many Ellen Datlow-Terri Windling anthologies) so I expected that there were going to be at least one or two stories that I don't care for. So it didn't really bother me.

As best I can tell, this anthology is still available, so if you like short stories, this is an anthology you won't want to miss. However, if you like anthologies, this is probably one you already have sitting on your shelves.

Published by Harper Collins

Rating: 7/10

Ruby Slippers, Golden Tears (1995) edited by Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling

Published by Harper Collins

Warrior Enchantresses (1996) edited by Martin H. Greenberg & Kathleen M. Massie-Ferch

Published by DAW

Silver Birch, Blood Moon (1999) edited by by Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling

Publisher: Avon Books

Black Heart, Ivory Bones (2000) edited by Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling

Publisher: Eos

A Wolf at the Door (2000) edited by Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling

I love folk tales and fairy tales, and I love the idea of stories that have been told and retold, and then finally captured on paper. The problem of course, is finding an author who is good at translating stories from an oral tradition into something that works well written.

There's something wonderful about a well-told short story, and I think that the best short stories in the world are folk and fairy tales.

Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling are very good at finding authors who can take these stories and retell them, and they always put together wonderful anthologies. They brought together thirteen writers for this collection of retold fairy tales.

Although one or two of the stories I found to be just okay, others were nothing short of excellent. It also seems as if the stories were I liked the best were towards the end of the book. For me the collection started out okay, and then got better and better the more I read.

Not that I think the purpose of these stories is necessarily to scare us, as much as it is to make us pay attention to what is happening around us.

Rating: 7/10

The Green Man : Tales from the Mythic Forest (2002) edited by Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling

Published by Viking

Year's Best Fantasy 2 (2002) edited by David G. Hartwell

Published by Harper Voyager

Swan Sister (2003) edited by Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling

I don’t think I’ve come across a short story collection put together by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling that I didn’t like, and Swan Sister is no exception to the rule.

The stories are fairy tales retold, by a variety of authors--many some of my favorites.

All in all, there wasn't a weak story in this collection.

Like A Wolf at the Door, this is a collection for children and young adults. However, the stories are so well written that adults should find them just as appealing. If you like folk and fairy tales, I highly recommend this collection.

Rating: 9/10

Year's Best Fantasy 3 (2003) edited by David G. Hartwell

Published by Harper Voyager

The Faery Reel: Tales from the Twilight Realm (2004) edited by Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling

Any time I see a fantasy anthology edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling, I’ll often as not pick it up, because I know that it’s going to be good. Usually very good. This volume however, has the added bonus of poems by both Charles de Lint and Neil Gaiman.

Needless to say I snatched it up--even thought it was in hardback--when I came across it.

These faery tales are based not upon the fairies of Disney but upon the faery of folktales. As they say in the introduction:

In this book about our good neighbors, we've asked a number of our favorite writers to travel into the Twilight Realm (an ancient name for the land of Faerie) and to bring back stories of faeries and the hapless mortals who cross their path. "No butterfly-winged sprites," we pleaded. "Read the old folktales, journey farther afield, find some of the less explored paths through the Realm.

It would be hard for me not to love this book.

All in all an excellent anthology. But I hardly expected anything less.

Published by Viking

Rating: 8/10

Emerald Magic (2004) edited by Andrew M. Greely

This book first caught my eye because I didn't expect to see Andrew Greeley's name in the fantasy section. Then I looked at the list of authors who wrote in this anthology: Charles de Lint, Diane Duane, Elizabeth Haydon, Morgan Llywelyn, Judith Tarr, Peter Tremayne, Jane Yolen. Even one of those names would have been enough inducement for me to pick up the book--but all those? And more!

Irish mythology, folktales, and fantasy. What more could I want?

Every story I read was excellent, although I did skip L.E. Modesitt Jr's science fiction story (I am rarely in the mood for science fiction.)

This is an anthology that I will come back and read again, so if you're wondering whether you should make the purchase, my recommendation if definitely YES!

Rating: 8/10

Year's Best Fantasy 4 (2004) edited by David G. Hartwell and Kathryn Cramer

Year's Best Fantasy 4

Publisher: Harper Voyager

Outsiders: 22 All-New Stories From the Edge (2005) edited by Nancy Holder & Nancy Kilpatrick

Winter Moon (2005) Mercedes Lackey, Tanith Lee, and C.E. Murphy

Winter Moon contains three novellas all centered around the moon:

Moontide and Heart of the Moon are traditional fantasies, while Banshee Cries is an urban fantasy set in the modern world where magic--or power--is just out of the sight of most people.

In Tanith Lee's The Heart of the Moon, Clirando has been betrayed by her lover and the woman she considers her sister. Her reaction to the events--and the result of those events--cause her to be sent to the Moon Isle for the Seven Nights.

I initially didn't care much for this story. I hate the main characters name--I kept reading Cilantro--and I just didn't care much about her. But eventually the story drew me, and although I never developed much of a liking for Clirando, I did like the characters she met, and her adventures were intriguing. And although this was supposed to be a romance, the romance portion of the story was a problem for me. I just didn't buy that this bitter woman could so easily fall in love. But the fantasy part of the story was interesting enough that I could ignore the mushy bits.

The only thing I find it important to mention is that these three stories are quite different. They are a good overview of the scope of the Luna line, but the thing holding this collection of novellas together is the theme of the winter moon. Not a similarity in theme or style.

If you have not read a Luna book before, I would highly recommend Winter Moon. This stories in this book are a good overview of the variety in the Luna line, and although not everyone will enjoy all three stories, there is such a variety in these stories that most readers should find something here to enjoy.

Rating: 7/10

Year's Best Fantasy 5 (2005) edited by David G. Hartwell and Kathryn Cramer

Year's Best Fantasy 5

Publisher: Harper Voyager

Firebirds Rising (2006) edited by Sharyn November

This is a collection of fantasy, urban fantasy (minus the boinking) and science fiction. Interestingly, I didn’t mind most of the science fiction too much, though they weren’t my favorite stories in the collection. 

Published by Firebird

Rating: 7/10

The Secret History Of Vampires (2007) edited by Darrell Schweitzer

Published by DAW

By Blood We Live (2009) edited by John Joseph Adams

The Beastly Bride: Tales of the Animal People (2010) edited by Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling

Viking Books for Young Readers

Full Moon City (2010) edited by Martin H. Greenberg & Darrell Schweitzer

I love anthologies. Though I have to admit that with the way paranormal romance has taken off, the ratio of wheat to chaff has been unfavorable for me. However, Carrie Vaughn and Peter S. Beagle were pretty compelling reasons to get this anthology.

Although there were several stories I didn’t particularly like, but all in all, the stories that were good were very good, and well worth the price of the anthology.

Rating: 8/10

Vampires: The Recent Undead (2010) edited by Paula Guran


It has taken me an almost embarrassingly long time to finish this. How long you ask? I purchased it a couple months after it was published–that long ago.

The problem is I hit a point where I wasn’t interested in a story, and instead of just skipping to the next story, I put the whole thing down. I know, rookie mistake. (But you’ll see I made it several times, so I decided to just finish off these anthologies, and if I didn’t like a story? SKIP.)

“La Vampiresse” by Tanith Lee

“Madame Chaikassia.”

“Ah,” she said. “At last. One who knows how to say my name.”

Naturally he knew. He had known from the day he saw her in the interview on TV. Rather as he had seen the actress Bette Davis in an interview years before and she had been asked how her first name was pronounced. So that he therefore knew it was not pronounced, as most persons now did, in the French way, Bett, but—for he had heard the actress herself reply—as Betty. And in the same way he knew the female being before him now did not pronounce her name as so many did: not Che´-kasee-ah, but Ch´-high-kazya.

This story was both lovely and terribly sad.

So, it was an uneven anthology for me, but there were some very good stories that are well-worth the price of the anthology.

Published by Prime Books

Rating: 7/10

Teeth: Vampire Tales (2011) edited by Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling

This is an Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling anthology, so as always, there are fascinating bits of folklore.

Rice, not garlic, was the most effective means of keeping Chinese vampires at bay, for they had a strange compulsion to count. Throwing rice at the ghost compelled it to stop; it would not move again until each grain was counted.

“Why Light?” by Tanith Lee is the final story, and one I particularly liked. These vampires are born and not made, but different traits have different strengths.

As expected, this was a very good anthology, and although I didn’t like the horror or the poetry, that’s a failing of mine, not the anthology.

Published by Harper Collins

Rating: 8/10

Under My Hat: Tales from the Cauldron (2012) edited by Jonathan Strahan

This is a lovely YA anthology, with some amazing stories by some of my favorite authors. I didn’t love all the stories, but none of them were bad. The theme is young witches coming of age, but the stories are far greater than that.

“Felidis” by Tanith Lee had several interesting twists, but the best part was the cat woman. I didn’t have tons of sympathy for the main character, but very much enjoyed Felidis.

Published by Random House

Rating: 9/10

Queen Victoria’s Book of Spells: An Anthology of Gaslamp Fantasy (2013) edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling


I love anthologies and I love historical fiction. So this should have been an automatic win for me.

Instead it was a two-plus year slog that I finally forced myself to finish.

Published by Tor