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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Postmodern gothic fairytales, September 19, 2006
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These delicately crafted, literary fantasies draw from Victorian morality stories and fairytales. The language is spare and considered, the tone dry spiked with mordant humor. Goss discreetly and elegantly updates the gothic tale for postmodern times. Her "Emily Gray" stories concern a governess who grants children's deepest wishes, at a terrible price. Three of the Emily Gray tales are here. The title story turns a breast cancer patient's life into a magical fable. Other stories take place in Budapest, and have a flavor of Central European magical realism ("The Rapid Advance of Sorrow"), while "A Rose in Twelve Petals" fractures Sleeping Beauty into twelve different view points, including that of the spinning wheel that pricks the princess. Goss's stories have dark themes, but she is too graceful a writer to be considered gothic in the classic sense. Her painterly, humorous characters come alive, and her fantastical ideas are grounded in her character's pysches.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A superb collection, October 23, 2006
By 
Erin Kissane (Portland, OR USA) - See all my reviews
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This is one of the most delightful short-story collections I've ever read. Goss's prose is immaculate; there are hints of Angela Carter here, but also of Virgina Woolf. She handles very old themes (Gothic, yes, but also older) with a very rare combination of control and freshness. It's an astonishing collection, and I can't wait to see more from her. Novels are my true love, but I'm happy to make an exception -- and a permanent place on my bookshelf -- for this book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Theodora Goss: Master of Place, April 18, 2012
By 
Bonnie S. (Fort Worth, Texas United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: In The Forest Of Forgetting (Paperback)
Originally posted on Short Story Review: [...]

Theodora Goss is a master of place. In all sixteen short stories included in her collection In the Forest of Forgetting, the setting, though often a fictional and fantastical place, is as vivid as the characters, many of whom are greatly affected by the places they inhabit. In the introduction by Terri Windling, which gives an interesting biography of Goss and explores her historical context for the way she writes, Windling says, "Goss is a travel guide across borders both real and imaginary: borders of time, of gender, of genre, of landscape, of culture, and of expectation."

I couldn't put it better myself. Goss does indeed eschew borders. Her fiction crosses genre lines and is therefore difficult to categorize. While the fantastical is always an element in her stories, it is often metaphor, or a subtle expression of her character's rich inner lives that manifests itself in reality. And while Goss' work is certainly fiction, her prose could be called a form of poetry. The images she creates are certainly vivid enough.

The most poetic piece in the collection is "The Rose in Twelve Petals," which revisits the story of Sleeping Beauty from the point of view of each character involved: the witch who curses Sleeping Beauty, the magician who alters the curse from death to sleep, the king and father, even the spinning wheel, the tower and the rose. Goss' structure is flawless; there are twelve numbered sections, and each section is a point-of-view. The unifying theme of each section, besides the Sleeping Beauty story itself, is the presence of the rose.

Goss also crosses borders of traditional story structure. Often her stories are split into pieces that, by the end, form a whole. Sometimes numbered, sometimes not, each section reads like a transition in the story and explores a refreshing view of the short story itself; so often one assumes that short stories, unlike novels, do not contain parts. Perhaps this is because the parts of a novel - its chapters - are obvious. Goss makes it obvious that short fiction as well is capable of layers.

The collection as a whole contains many linking parts. Many of the stories bleed into one another. The character of Miss Gray, a dark Mary Poppins-like woman, shows up in three stories, always when the other characters, particularly children, need her. She grants wishes, though sometimes in unfavorable ways; her magic comes with a price. The story "Lessons with Miss Gray" revisits the lives of two of the characters from the World Fantasy Award-nominated story "The Wings of Mister Wilhelm" and fills in the blanks regarding the backstory of the characters.

In several other stories, character names are repeated. Though the fact that they are the same character in both stories is never clarified, the repetition gives the impression that these stories must be related in some way. Discovering the links between stories is rewarding. The world of In the Forest of Forgetting feels as rich as the worlds of the stories inside. And as mysterious.

Which brings me to the mystery of Goss' fiction. What I like most about her writing, and what makes her such an exciting writer to read, is that she never explains everything. Though she certainly gives the reader enough information to form their own opinion of what exactly has occurred in many of these stories, she never answers every question. There is no attempt on her part to tie up all her loose ends, a technique that I think engages the reader even more in the story and makes things much more interesting.

Other highlights of the collection include "Pip and the Faeries," "The Rapid Advance of Sorrow," and "Letters from Budapest."
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Varied, original, and unforgetable, April 2, 2009
A Kid's Review
This review is from: In The Forest Of Forgetting (Paperback)
Highly original, fantastic, unconventional, and often provocative stories. They range from mystical to humorous. Not all of the stories are top quality but I will never forget the best ones. The story about the woman marrying a bear, one of my favorites, recalls Terry Bison's "Bears discover fire." Other stories suggest fairy tales, especially the retelling of sleeping beauty from multiple points of view.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing Tale, January 10, 2014
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Ms Goss brings us to her enchanted tale and allows us the supreme pleasure of a ramble through a locale we will surely wish to revisit! Truly the absolute best of fantasy with a capital F!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A sheer delight for the reader, June 25, 2013
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This review is from: In The Forest Of Forgetting (Paperback)
Theodora Goss's writing is brilliant, and this collection is a joy to read. Each of the 16 stories contained herein will bring contentment to the reader who is looking for something interesting in the realms of fantasy. Goss's writing is superb, and this volume is full of hauntingly beautiful stories that charm and delight. Curl up with this tome and you will find yourself going back to it again and again!
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superior Fantastic Fiction, November 8, 2006
By 
Guido Eekhaut (Leuven, Belgium) - See all my reviews
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An excellent collection of stories, all of them little masterpieces of fantastic fiction in the tradition of European storytellers. Most stories belong to a deep tradition of which Kafka was a potent precursor. Atmosphere is certainly Goss's strong point, and utterly well-drawn characters. I'm looking for more of her fiction.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 4.5 stars; dark European fairy tales and beautiful writing, December 23, 2010
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This review is from: In The Forest Of Forgetting (Paperback)
I was really looking forward to reading this series of short stories by Theodora Goss. It ended up being a wonderful collection of stories; most of them are dark and have a European fairy tale feel to them. Many of the stories are incredibly ironic and a bit ambiguous.

I am not even sure how to start describing these stories individually. The story "The Belt" tells a tale of a wife who learns what happens to her husband when she removes the belt he uses to restrain her. There is the story "Professor Berkowitz Stands on the Threshold" where a professor is given a choice: he can go into the magical unknown or return to his weary life...but he only gets one chance to make the choice. In "Letters From Budapest" a man receives mysterious letters from his brother telling of his descent into the art culture of Budapest and ultimately his demise via magical means. A reoccurring figure throughout is Miss Grey a witch of sorts who shows up in one story as a nanny, in another as a teacher of magic. All the stories are interesting in their own right and I would be hard-pressed to pick a favorite.

Goss's writing is dark, descriptive, atmospheric, magical, and at times a bit vague. Many times the reader is left to determine exactly what has happened, the stories are a bit ambiguous and are not spelled out for the reader. Most of the stories have a very fairy tale like vibe to them. I mean Grimm Brothers type fairy tales...a lot of the stories also have an Old World or European feel to them as well.

The writing is very descriptive and some of the earlier stories felt a bit disjointed, so it took me a couple stories to really get into Goss's writing style. Once I did thought I found the book very hard to put down and was eager to see what wonders the next story held for me.

Overall a wonderful collection of dark fairy tale like stories, a wonderful writer. If you like dark fairy tales or stories with an old world feel to them this is the book for you. The writing style reminds some of Catherynne Valente or Elizabeth Hand; intelligently written, beautiful, and a bit vague (not everything is spelled out for the reader). I liked it a lot and will be keeping an eye out for future works from Goss.
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5.0 out of 5 stars An inspiring read, June 21, 2014
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This review is from: In The Forest Of Forgetting (Paperback)
I stumbled across this book not really sure what to expect. It is essentially a collection of short stories. They are incredibly written- poetic, surreal, haunting and even funny. Each story left me feeling satiated and inspired. I felt sad. I laughed. I blushed. Goss is a truly gifted writer.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating!, April 27, 2008
By 
This was a captivating read. The opening by Terri Windling also features a section where Theodora Goss talks of her lifestyle of living and moving around. I related a lot to the multiple sense of identities, yet sometimes the lost sense of identity she talked about.

Most of these stories are disparate, though there are three stories with a witch, Miss Emily Gray, in them, and two stories (one with Miss Gray) that are set in the same town. Others are scattered across time and space. The stories with Miss Ellen Gray are particularly eye-opening regarding careful wishes and harming others who haven't harmed you.

Goss opens with a split perspective of Sleeping Beauty from the king, witch/mistress, wife, daughter and prince. It is very intriguing how it is split among petals.

There are other stories set in a Communist regime (such as the story "Letters from Budapest" which demonstrates how passion for art can go awry) or center around people who have fled the Communist Regime, such as "A Statement in the Case."

Death seems to be a common theme, as two stories appear to end with a character's acceptance of death after travels either trying to find/remember her name while encountering people in a natural landscape (such as "Wife" or "Daughter") or traveling through a ballet dancer's memories while lying in a bed.

One story that particularly touched me with "The Belt" which had such a wonderful moral at its end, I decided to quote it here in my review.

"I will tell you, too, that every fairy tale has a moral. The moral of my story may be that love is a constraint, as strong as any belt. And this is certainly true, which makes it a good moral. Or it may be that we are all constrained in some way, either in our bodies, or in our hearts or minds, an Empress as well as the woman who does her laundry. [...] Perhaps it is that a shoemaker's daughter can bear restraint less easily than an aristocrat, that what he can bear for three years she can endure only for three days. [...] Or perhaps my moral is that our desire for freedom is stronger than love or pity. That is a wicked moral, or so the Church has taught us. But I do not know which moral is the correct one. And that is also the way of a fairy tale.

(pp. 195-96 "The Belt")

Overall this was a provoking read.
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In The Forest Of Forgetting
In The Forest Of Forgetting by Theodora Goss (Paperback - June 12, 2007)
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