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Troll's Eye View: A Book of Villainous Tales Hardcover – April 16, 2009
"Rebound" by Kwame Alexander
Don't miss best-selling author Kwame Alexander's "Rebound," a new companion novel to his Newbery Award-winner, "The Crossover," illustrated with striking graphic novel panels. Learn more
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In this follow-up to Datlow and Windling’s A Wolf at the Door (2000) and Swan Sister (2003), the duo again amass an anthology of fairy-tale retellings, only this time they keep focus upon the backstories of well-known villains. As always with such endeavors, it’s a mixed bag of funny, quirky, and downright creepy entries. A standout on the humorous side is Peter S. Beagle’s “Up the Down Beanstalk: A Wife Remembers,” in which Mrs. Giant tells all to a newspaper reporter about that infamous rascal Jack, who scrambled up the beanstalk and ended up killing Mr. Giant. On the sinister side, Kelly Link finishes off the book with an absolutely bone-chilling offering called “The Cinderella Game,” in which Peter babysits his new stepsister. The experience ends in blood, horror, and with the sense that there is no happily ever after left for anyone. Although some stories, like Neil Gaiman’s “Observing the Formalities,” require a good deal of familiarity with the original yarns, the collection is largely accessible and very enjoyable. Grades 5-8. --Daniel Kraus
...highly readable and thought-provoking...A solid choice, particularly where sophisticated fractured fairy tales are popular. --School Library Journal
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I know I always care more about the contents of a short story collection like this than an actual review since I'm certain to find the book worthwhile for at least a few stories--although more than a few make this one worthshile--so I'm kindly sharing the list with my gentle readers, too. Most of the authors are the usual suspects for a collection edited by Datlow and Windling, so fans should be thrilled and newcomers have a treat in store.
Wizard's Apprentice by Delia Sherman
An Unwelcome Guest by Garth Nix
Faery Tales by Wendy Froud
Rags and Riches by Nina Kiriki Hoffman
Up the Down Beanstalk: A W Remembers by Peter S. Beagle
The Shoes That Were Danced to Pieces by Ellen Kushner
Puss in Boots, the Sequel by Joseph Stanton
The Boy Who Cried Wolf by Holly Black
Troll by Jane Yolen
Castle Othello by Nancy Farmer
`Skin by Michael Cadnum
A Delicate Architecture by Catherynne M. Valente
Molly by Midori Snyder
Observing the Formalities by Neil Gaiman
The Cinderella Game by Kelly Link
There is a mixture of fun and trauma in the stories, ending with Link's chilling "The Cinderella Game." Don't read it at bedtime if you are subject to nightmares.
But there's plenty here for anyone of any age. Some of the finest fantasy writers currently working contribute and reading this book I found myself thinking of Saki and Thurber and Mrs. Lovett from Sondheim's Sweeney Todd.
There's not a dud in the bunch but my favorites were Peter S. Beagle speaking as a Giant's Wife, Catherynne M. Valente finding terror and pathos in pastry and Kelly Link playing a very old game in a very modern family.
You may buy this as a gift but you'll read it and you'll keep it so buy at least two copies.
There is not a dull story in the collection. My favorites are as follows:
1. "The Wizard's Apprentice," Delia Sherman: A humorous story about a person's reputation and how things are not always what they seem. Is Zachariah Smallbones truly an evil wizard?
2. "Skin," by Michael Kadnum: Haunting and poetic, this story is a retelling of Rumpelstiltzskin from the elf's perspective. Spinning straw into gold is not his only talent.
3. "Molly," by Madori Schneider: Who is the true villain? The giant, or the impish girl who comes to visit him in his home? This story will make you think.
4. "A Delicate Archetecture," by Catherine M. Valentee. I've saved this story to the last because it is my absolute favorite. I implore you to get this book simply for this story alone. Bittersweet, cutting, and extremely creative, this tale is told from the witch's perspective in "Hansel and Gretel." Why is the witch so obsessed with sweets? Why does she live in a beautiful house of gingerbread? Valentee explores the heartrending themes of obsession, betrayal, and the universal craving within us all to be accepted. We are fragile creatures, yet we deserve respect and love. As a blind individual, I truly found this story to be very relevant. The story moved me to tears.
Fairy tale villains have much to tell us. Now, thanks to this marvelous collection, their voices can finally be heard. Please give this book a chance. God bless and happy reading.