TITLE: Cursed: An Anthology of Dark Fairy Tales
EDITORS: Marie O’Regan & Paul Kane
AUTHORS: Christina Henry, Neil Gaiman, Tim Leebon, M.R. Carey, Christopher Golden, & more
GENRE: Dark Fantasy
AGE RANGE: Adult
Here in this book you’ll find unique twists on the fairy tale conceit of the curse, from the more traditional to the modern – giving us brand new mythologies as well as new approaches to well-loved fables. Some might shock you, some might make you laugh, but they will all impress you with their originality.
Snow did not find him charming. When she looked into his dark, dark eyes she saw not the fizzy delight of charm but the flicker of a tongue through sharp teeth.
— Christina Henry, As Red As Blood, As White as Snow
Last year, this editing duo released the Wonderland anthology, which I raved about. It was a gorgeous collection and I had so much fun with it that, when I had the opportunity to read and review this new anthology, I jumped at the chance. I’m an absolute sucker for dark fairytale retellings and many of the authors in this lineup positively excel at the craft.
Cursed kicks off, after a quick poem from Jane Yolen, with the story As Red as Blood, As White as Snow by Christina Henry, and if you know me, you already know Christina is one of my favorite retelling authors of all time. She has designed a solid portion of her writing career around taking old stories and giving them new life — typically complete with some sort of social commentary that is always so eloquently woven in — and this was no exception. It was easily my favorite story in the anthology and I would honestly urge you to pick this book up even if only for this story’s beautiful prose and ruthless examination of the evils of “Prince Charming” types.
Luckily, the good times didn’t stop there; while nothing else in Cursed was quite able to beat out that first story for me, I was so happy to see how many incredible stories this collection contained! A lot of anthologies are severely hit-and-miss, but Marie O’Regan & Paul Kane clearly know how to choose ’em when it comes to short stories. Among others, I loved Catriona Ward’s incredibly unique twist on one of my favorite tropes (but I can’t tell you what it is!) in At That Age, the gorgeously melancholy, haunting vibes of Jen Williams’ necromancing Listen, and James Brogden’s grotesque, horribly unsettling Skin.
The forest is dark but I know the way. I have been here before. There is a path soon, pebbly and worn, but my fingers and toes are like needles and pins. If I stay here, stray here too long, will I become one of them forever?
— Jane Yolen & Adam Stemple, Little Red
While these were the stand-out favorites of mine, I genuinely enjoyed almost every single story in this collection. I will admit that the stories grew a little less interesting for me in the end, with the last few not catching my eye as well, but they weren’t enough to hinder me from being wholly blown away by the overall caliber of Cursed’s offerings. I have so many new authors on my reading list thanks to these short stories, and I know this is the sort of collection I’ll be recommending for a long time — and revisiting time and time again.
Thank you so much to Titan for providing me with a review copy in exchange for an honest review!
violence, death, infant/child abuse and death, body horror, self-mutilation, various mental illnesses
Tim Lebbon’s Again features f/f romance.
Beautiful, twisted, and refreshing takes on classic stories (with a few brand new fairytales thrown in the mix, too).
WOULD I RECOMMEND IT? Yes!
— destiny ♥
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