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Troll's Eye View: A Book of Villainous Tales Hardcover – April 16, 2009

4.5 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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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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Product Details

  • Age Range: 9 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 4 - 7
  • Lexile Measure: 880L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 200 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers; 1 edition (April 16, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670061417
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670061419
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.9 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #673,177 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Heidi Anne Heiner VINE VOICE on July 25, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Troll's Eye View: A Book of Villainous Tales edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling is the third in a series of short story collections of fairy tale retellings, following A Wolf at the Door and Swan Sister.

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.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a collection of fairy tales all written from the traditional villain's point of view. The stories are short tales, each followed by a brief explanation by the author of the inspiration for the tale. Some of the tales are taken into a modern setting while some remain in a more traditional setting. In addition to the short stories there are a few poems as well. The tellings range from humor to light horror. Garth Nix does a humorous take on Rapunzel, Peter Beagle tells Jack and the Beanstalk from the Giant's wife's point of view and Catherynne Valente has a beautifully written and creative retelling of Hansel and Gretel. For some of the stories you will guess right away what the inspiration was, and others may take some time. I enjoyed all of the tales and as the book is fairly short with large print, it was a quick read.
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Format: Paperback
Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling's two previous collections, A Wolf at the Door, and Swan Sister, retell familiar fairy tales in new ways. Trolls'-Eye View is different in that the diverse group of talented authors expertly weave compelling new tales that examine the often misunderstood villains. These tales range from comic rantings, (Peter S. Beagle's "A Giant's Wife Remembers"), to complex tales of empathy and unique perspectives, ("Rags to Riches," Deana Karike Hoffman), Was the maid in "The Goose Girl" truly evil, or was she simply grasping for her own chance at autonomy?
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.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Troll's Eye View edited by Datlow & Windling will delight children. Every kid loves a villain and the dozen stories and three poems in this beautifully designed little book have a hilarious, chilling assortment.

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.
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