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Black Thorn, White Rose Mass Market Paperback – October, 1995

16 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Datlow and Windling (Snow White, Blood Red), winners of the World Fantasy Award for Best Anthology, have compiled a second volume of "fairy tales for adults"-an enchanting, witty collection of 18 original stories that in general achieve relevance without losing their patina of magic. A case in point is Jane Yolen's brilliant retelling of Rumpelstiltskin story, in which the "imp" is a Jewish moneylender caught in a pogrom because he helped the wrong princess. Equally impressive is Midori Snyder's subtly feminist story about how to keep love alive after "happily ever after" has been going on for a while. Several comic entries include Michael Cadnum's hip retelling of the Gingerbread Man story, Howard Waldrop's entry about about Prohibition gangsters at a music festival. The anthology's many powerful themes (e.g., the tyranny of beauty, the sanctity of life) are taken up as suitably by the traditional fantasy voices of Patricia C. Wrede and Nancy Kress as they are in Roger Zelazny's more experimental entry. Even more than its predecessor, this superior volume proves that the notion of modern-day Grimms, Andersens and Wildes isn't just a fairy tale.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Kirkus Reviews

The editors of the annual Year's Best Fantasy and Horror concoct a potent brew of fairy tales spiked with feminism. These intoxicating delights are not meant for children or the timid. Storm Constantine retells the princess and the pea through the voice of the widowed queen of Gordania, a narrator so wickedly charming, sinister, and intimate with the use of poisons that she brings to mind ancient Rome's Livia. In Nancy Kress's version of Rumpelstiltskin, an enchanted young woman surrenders her talent to spin gold, and ultimately her own life, to save her only son. Susan Wade presents overweight princess Ylianna who, to gain the love of a prince, uses a toxic powder to metamorphose into a raven-haired beauty. Life as a mortal is so unbearable after his rejection that Ylianna transforms her wounded spirit into the magnificent black swan. Death gains a face--and a godson--in Roger Zelazny's witty story about the grim reaper who, despite his power of death-over- life, cannot resist sparing his favorite football players. No matter which tour you take through this frightening and dark enchanted wood, Datlow and Windling again prove themselves the best guides. -- Copyright ©1994, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: prime (October 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0380771292
  • ISBN-13: 978-0380771295
  • Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 4.2 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,018,542 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Keith Vaglienti on March 18, 1998
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Many people don't realize that the fairy tales we grew up on were not always stories aimed at children. As is discussed in the forward of this book, the original fairy tales were frequently much darker and disturbing than the ones we are familiar with today. Sleeping Beauty, for example, is not brought awake by the chaste kiss of Prince Charming but rather the suckling of the twin babies she has born, having been impregnated by the less-than-charming prince while she slept. It was only during the Victorian period, when realism became the fashion, that these stories were relegated by men to the domain of women and children, being sanitized in the process so as not to upset the more delicate sensibilities.
This anthology, along with its companion volumes, returns the fairy tale to its roots. In doing so it strikes a chord deep within us. The stories contained within are both familiar and strange at the same time. Because of this they are sometimes eerily disturbing, sometimes heart-wrenchingly poignant, always entertaining.
The one drawback of this collection, as with any anthology, is that style and quality vary according to author. The good news is that most of these stories are very well written and if you run across one you don't like, you can always move on to the next.
If you're looking for something enjoyable to read, you could do far worse than this collection. Overall I strongly recommend this book.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Kelly (Fantasy Literature) VINE VOICE on December 7, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
...Now, admittedly, I'm only halfway through the series. I've read _Black Heart, Ivory Bones_ and _Ruby Slippers, Golden Tears_, liked them both for the most part, and yet this volume (second in the series, chronologically) tops them both. There are so many wonderful stories...here are some of the highlights:
"Stronger Than Time", a poignant take on Sleeping Beauty, sad yet hopeful.
"Somnus' Fair Maid", Sleeping Beauty again; this time it's a delightful Regency romp. No supernatural elements, but plenty of magic.
"The Brown Bear of Norway", a touching teen romance between a lonely girl and her mysterious pen pal.
"Tattercoats"--this is what comes _after_ "happily ever after". The Princess has been married to her beloved for ten years, and their marriage has become a dull routine...but she is going to fight for it, with the help of three magical gifts. Sexy, sexy, very sexy, and also made me cry.
"Godson", in which a young man has the Grim Reaper himself as a mentor. They fall out over whether certain people should be spared. Darkly comic; the ending is hilarious.
"The Black Swan"--seems to be a blend of Cinderella, Swan Lake, and Pygmalion. A pretentious serving-man trains an awkward princess in social graces and gives her a makeover; this story is both a heartbreaking tale of shapeshifting, and a barbed commentary on beauty standards of any time.
And the trouble is, I just know I'm going to think of three more stories I loved as soon as I log off the computer. BUY THIS BOOK. All these incredible stories, and cheap! LOL...
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Fabio Rossi on April 18, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The good AND bad thing about Datlow's anthologies is that they sort of lack a common theme in the selection of stories. Thus with each book you're bound to find some items which fit your tastes and capture you, and some which you'll find absurdely boring or uninteresting just because of some old grudge against a particular character or theme. Having said this, if you're even remotely interested in "mature audiences" fairytales, you'd better go and get hold of this and the other titles in the series.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By AllieKat on September 6, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is the fourth anthology of Datlow and Windling's that I have read. If you've read any of the fairy tale anthologies and liked them, then you shouldn't be disappointed with this one. "Stronger Than Time" tells the story of "Sleeping Beauty" from an original perspective. "Godson" is a story about a young man whose "god"-father is Satan. "Sweet Bruising Skin" is an interesting and disturbing take on "The Princess and the Pea." With stories by Peter Straub, Roger Zelazny, Patricia C. Wrede and more, this is an anthology that's definitely worth the read.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Emera on December 9, 2006
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Having read this shortly after "Snow White, Blood Red," I was pleasantly surprised to note a definite improvement. Though the first collection did boast a number of strong stories, overall, I thought that those in "Black Thorn, White Rose" were more consistently effective, meaningful, and well-written. A key improvement was the avoidance of the previous volume's reliance on sex and gore for shock value, the overall effect of which was to create the impression that the authors were trying too hard. Mature elements alone do not necessarily constitute an "adult" story - the authors here instead work largely with emotional texture and maturity, without losing the simple pleasure of innovation and recreation (or of a good sex scene, as needed!).

Although all the stories that I enjoyed are too numerous to list, a few of my favorites were the following:

- Daniel Quinn's "The Frog King, or Iron Henry." Though confusing at first (I had to read half the story before I could begin to understood it at all), the cumulative effect of its repetition and circular dialogue is deeply tragic. It would be wonderful to read it in complement with Gahan Wilson's "The Frog Prince" from the first collection - both elusive, ambiguous portraits of lost and lonely frog princes.

- M. E. Beckett's "Near-Beauty." Hilarious, quirky, and wistful. A wonderfully bizarre sci-fi Frog Prince (another good counterpoint to the previous story), featuring a talking cane toad.

- Isabel Cole's "The Brown Bear of Norway." A frustrated and lonely young girl finds, loses, and remakes a connection with her enigmatic Norwegian penpal.
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