Friday, February 26, 2016

Fairy Tale Fandom Book Report: Frozen Fairy Tales.

Winter is going fast and the world will wake to the Spring in the not too distant future.  The time has come to post my review of Frozen Fairy Tales from World Weaver Press.  Now, I’m just kind of figuring out how best to go about reviewing books, especially anthology books by a group of different authors.  So, I’m going to try something different than what I did the last time I reviewed an anthology.  This time, I’m going to post some thoughts on each of the different stories in the collection.  The aim is to create a bunch of micro-reviews of about a paragraph or so.
Reproduced with permission from World Weaver Press.
“The Stolen Heart” by Christina Ruth Johnson
This is a nice new take on “The Giant with No Heart”.  It combines both fairy tale tropes and modern elements nicely.  I do have a problem with the ending, though.

“Faithful Henry” by Steven Grimm
A new take on “The Frog King, or Iron Henry”.  It does some interesting things with the female lead of that tale.  I was expecting more from the title character of Henry, though.

“The Ice Fisher” by J. Patrick Pazdziora
This one just doesn’t do anything for me.  It’s got an Arctic, almost tribal feel to it.  However, while it wasn’t bad I just didn’t take to it.  I can’t say much more than that.

“Buffalo Wings” by Lissa  Marie Redmond
A neat little tale of magic in the modern world that I can relate to being I’m from Upstate New York.  It has an entertaining main character.  Probably my favorite of the bunch.

“Cold Bites” by Tina Anton
A nice little story with a slightly surprising ending.  The main character has an interesting dilemma to deal with.  I did feel that this one dragged a little bit in the middle, though.

“Death in Winter” by Lissa Sloan
This is a nice new take on the personification of Death seen in folklore.  It also has a very active female protagonist.  A good story.

“Simon the Cold” by Charity Tahmaseb
This one had an interesting premise.  It hinges on there being an unseen world like that of TV shows like Grimm.  It’s good urban fantasy but doesn’t have much in the way of fairy tale tropes.  My second favorite.

“The Light of the Moon, the Strength of the Storm, the Warmth of the Sun” by Aimee Ogden
“This is actually a rather sweet story.  It has little to no magic in it at all.  However, it’s worth reading just for emotional enjoyment.

“A Heart of Winter” by Anna Salonen
This story was nice and creepy, if you like that sort of thing.  It features a hero set on rescuing a damsel, but the twist in the tale is that the hero is a scholar and the damsel is his little sister.  Suggested for fans of dark fairy tales.

“Happily Ever After” by Amanda Bergloff
This story has a decidedly interesting structure.  It feels kind of like the old campfire story game of “And Then Suddenly . . . ”.  Every time it seems like you reach the end it takes up with another character to hear their story.  Very interesting, though it might feel a bit disjointed to those who want one solid story.

“The Heart of Yuki-Onna” by Alison McBain
Honestly, I found this one to be just a little confusing.  I think it’s supposed to be an origin story for the Japanese spirit Yuki-Onna (Snow Woman).  Honestly, it lost me somewhere, though.

“The Wolf Queen” by Rowan Lindstrom
A much darker take on “The Farmer’s Clever Daughter”.  It’s an interesting example of how tonal shifts can change a story.  I found the characters a bit unlikable, though.

“What She Saw by Lantern Light” by L.A. Christensen
This is another sweet one, much like the Ogden story.  It’s nicely paced and well-written.  I’d recommend it.

“The Shard of Glass” by David Turnbull
A story based on Andersen’s “The Snow Queen”.  Well written, but I’m personally not entirely fond of the tonal shift.  Has an interesting hint of world-building, though.

“How Jack Frost Stole Winter” by Gavin Bradley
Not so much a fairy tale as a porquois tale starring English folkloric figure Jack Frost.  It’s interesting to see a porquois tale with a European slant, seeing as most of the ones published today seem to lean towards African or Native American origins.  It’s a bit by-the-numbers though.

Overall, I think that Frozen Fairy Tales is a solid anthology.  It has its hits and misses as most multi-author anthologies do.  However, most of that will likely come down to personal taste.  I say the book is worth a shot, though not necessarily a “you must read this book now” type of read. 
I’d like to thank Kate Walford and World Weaver Press for giving me the chance to read and review their book.  In the comments, tell me what you think of this “micro-review” format I’ve come up with (honestly, I’m still on the fence about it).  Until Ever After, this is the Fairy Tale Geek signing off.

Friday, February 19, 2016

A Chilly Reception (in a good way): Frozen Fairy Tales Q&A.

Thanks to Kate Walford of Enchanted Conversation fame and the fine folks at World Weaver Press, I have the chance to post a Q&A with some of the authors who've contributed to the recent anthology Frozen Fairy Tales.  I also have a review of the book coming, but that's for another post.  Meanwhile, on to the questions:
Reproduced with permission from World Weaver Press.

Christina Ruth Johnson, “The Stolen Heart”

      What led you to write a fairy tale about winter? In other words, why this anthology?

   I have always been fascinated by the mythos of winter and, when this anthology was proposed, realized how few fairy tales have a stereotypical winter setting (cold, snowy, etc.). There are a handful of tales which one assumes take place in a wintry land, such as East of the Sun and West of the Moon since it features a polar bear, but almost none I could think of in which the setting of winter performs like a character itself. I was eager to explore this concept and bring a winter fairy tale to life. 

    What do you like the most and the least about winter?

What I like most about the winter season are the vacations away from 80-degrees-one-day-ice-storm-the-next Texas to go snow-skiing in Colorado with my family. These trips do not happen as often as they used to, and I look forward to them even more because of that. Besides skiing, what I love most is the warmth found in wintertime: the warmth of staying inside with a book and hot chocolate, curled up in PJs and blankets when the world outside is cold and frozen (and, if you’re in Texas, perhaps thundersleeting). What do I like least? Inept drivers on icy roads. 

    What is your favorite classic fairy tale and why?

My favorite classic fairy tale is the Norwegian story “East of the Sun and West of the Moon” (Asbjørnsen and Moe). I of course love it for the heroine, who is lovely and intrepid and clever, and who gets to save the prince this time around. I also love it because of its history. This story is an eerily close retelling of the ancient myth “Eros and Psyche” (“eerily” because it is so many hundreds of years removed from the original), but with the wonderful addition of a polar bear, which the heroine gets to ride, and an evil troll princess as the antagonist in place of Aphrodite (make of that what you will). There are helpful old women bearing golden gifts, personified winds that carry the heroine to the uttermost north, and an impossible castle in an impossible place. What more could you want in a fairy tale?

Gavin Bradley, “How Jack Frost Stole Winter” 

What led you to write a fairy tale about winter? In other words, why this anthology?
      Living in Edmonton, Canada, has a way of shaping all your stories to fit with the fantastic, fairy tale-like, near perpetual Winter that envelops the city for most of the year; like living in the realm of the White Witch from The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, or stepping into Hans Christian Anderson's: 'The Snow Queen'. Experiencing that every day, I thought it might be nice to come up with a story that explains why we living in this modern fairy tale landscape have to get up half an hour early to dig our cars out from under a nightly avalanche of snow...just a different way of looking at, and explaining Winter, which is, ultimately what all fairy tales are about; different ways of explaining the world around us.

  What do you like the most and the least about winter?
     The best part of Winter is late night walks as the snow falls lightly around; when the cold has chased most other people and cars and animals away and you feel like you have the whole world to yourself. Luckily, living in Edmonton, I get plenty of chances to do this and as an Irishman, I'm always reminded of Joyce's final line in The Dead: ..."the snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, on all the living and the dead". Also hot apple cider... The worst part is rather more obvious; the cold. It gets to -40 Celsius here in Edmonton, and your more or less confined to the inside of buildings- people can get a little stir crazy. 

  What is your favorite classic fairy tale and why?
     My favorite fairy tales growing up were always traditional Irish ones--“Cú Chulainn and the Hound” (where the Irish hero of legends gets his name by slaying an enormous hound with his hurl (sort of like a big wooden hockey stick) and sliotar (ball), or the “Salmon of Knowledge”-- where our hero burns his thumb while cooking a fish containing wisdom, sucks his thumb, and becomes wise. I used to have a great book with a huge picture of the salmon, glittering with reds, greens and purples- even now I swear I can taste the salmon from that picture. I think my Mum liked me reading that one too, because it made me stop complaining about having fish for supper. 

  Anna Salonen, “A Heart of Winter”

     What led you to write a fairy tale about winter? In other words, why this anthology?

    We have long, cold winters in Finland, and many Finnish fairy tales are set in winter, so I thought I’d write one of my own. Winter is beautiful and magical, but also merciless and cruel. There’s no reasoning with it. Winter has a cold heart. I tried to capture that in my story.

  What do you like the most and the least about winter?

     I love the bright, snowy days when it’s cold, but not too cold for a walk in the woods or sledding, and the clear winter nights when the moon is so bright that you can see for miles.  I don’t like the slushy, wet days when the skies are grey and the roads are slippery and it feels like spring will never come.

   What is your favorite classic fairy tale and why?
      It’s hard to pick just one, but “The Six Swans” from Grimm’s Fairy Tales is a favorite. It’s very dark, and I like that the princess saves her brothers, not the other way around.  

   Stay tuned for my review of Frozen Fairy Tales in the not too distant future.