Fantasy Mystery Romance Comics Non-Fiction

Swan Sister

Saturday, August 5, 2006

Swan Sister (2003) 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.

The collection opens with Jane Yolen’s story “Greenkid.” I cannot at all think of a specific story from which this tale strung, yet it contains multiple elements of folk and fairy tales, especially the idea of never sharing your name with a faerie, for names give such creatures power over you.

Nina Kiriki Hoffman once again reminds me why I love her writing so much as she retells the story of Bluebeard in “Chambers of the Heart” from the point of view of the young bride. I love how she manages to tell an entire tale in only a short story. “Chambers of the Heart” was probably the story that kept closest to the original tale, of a man who murders his brides and keeps their bodies in the basement. Yet knowing the tale made the story no less compelling.

In other other direction, WIll Shetterly’s “Little Red and the Big Bad” was as far from a traditional folk tale as you can get, yet he managed to completely recreate the feel and idea of the original tale–especially in the ending.

“The Girl in the Attic” by Lois Metzger kept the feel of a fairy tale, with its step-mother / step-daughter relationship, however, I loved the way the story turned out.

I know why Katherine Vaz’s story “My Swan Sister” was last–because by the end my eyes were too blurry with tears to continue on. Very impressive for a story only twelve pages long. Although this story deviated the most from the traditional fairy tale, it was still excellent. And I particularly like how the story made me see and feel the idea of experiencing each day to its fullest.

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

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