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The Wood Wife (Fairy Tales) Mass Market Paperback – August 15, 1997

4.6 out of 5 stars 61 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Journalist and ex-poet Maggie Black has inherited the estate of Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Davis Cooper, with whom she corresponded for years, but never met. Maggie is a cosmopolitan woman of the West Coast and Europe, and a child of the Appalachian mountains; she has no interest in the desert. She has an ex-husband she still loves in L.A. And Davis Cooper drowned in the Arizona desert, the victim of a mysterious murder. Maggie has many reasons to stay away. Yet she moves to Cooper's desert home, seeking to unravel the secrets of Cooper and his late lover, the mad painter Anna Naverra. But these, Maggie will discover, are not the desert's only mysteries. Ancient powers are stirring--enigmatic and dangerous spirits that would use humans for their own purposes.

Terri Windling is the most important and influential fantasy editor of the 1980s and 1990s: Her many accomplishments include editing (and often discovering) a pantheon of fantasy gods--Steven Brust, Emma Bull, Charles de Lint, Jane Yolen, and many more. She edits, with Ellen Datlow, the indispensible annual Year's Best Fantasy and Horror and the acclaimed revisionist fairy-tale anthology series that began with Snow White, Blood Red. She has won the World Fantasy Award five times. So it's not too surprising that her first novel, The Wood Wife, is well written, fascinating, insightful, and the winner of the 1997 Mythopoeic Award for Best Novel. --Cynthia Ward

From Publishers Weekly

Winner of five World Fantasy Awards for her editing, Windling (coeditor with Ellen Datlow of the annual Year's Best Fantasy & Horror anthologies) now shows off her writing skills with this strong first novel, a fantasy. When writer Maggie Black learns that her friend and mentor, poet Davis Cooper, has died and left her his house in the arid hills outside Tucson, Ariz., she travels there intending to write his biography and to investigate the mysterious circumstances of his death. Every detail she uncovers about Cooper's past, however, only seems to raise more questions. When Maggie comes home one evening to find that the house has been ransacked, it becomes clear that she's not the only one looking for answers. To solve the puzzle of Cooper's life and death, Maggie will have to outwit the Trickster and the other powerful quasi-human creatures that roam the desert hills and feed on creative energy. Although at times Windling's humans come off as too sensitive and artistic, her Native American spirits comprise an intriguing blend of human folklore and alien emotion. Her debut novel is richly imaginative, a captivating mix of traditional fantasy and magical realism.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Series: Fairy Tales
  • Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Fantasy (August 15, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812549295
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812549294
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.8 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.3 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (61 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #973,947 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
I have been to Tuscon only once, but Terri Windling's tale brought the Sonoran desert town and its surrounding mountains back to life, stirring reminiscences of the sparse yet magical landscape in which the ever-sprawling and ever-growing urban, and thus increasingly incongruous, city is nestled. Through her words I was again able to travel the streets and canyons of Tuscon and the Rincons, experiencing the heat and dust of summer and sandy, dry washes, seeing again the stately, suggestively sentient assembly of saguaro, the ephemeral, blood-red blooms of the ocotillo. And, yes, viewing the saguaro one can truly believe Maria Rosa's bedtime story that at night, when no one is looking, the saguaro gather to dance. In the imagination, Terri Windling has beautifully and magically captured the Sonoran desert with her prose.
While I in part agree with M. Weaver's demanding yet incisive observations, I cannot concur with the harshness of his final ranking and conclusions. True, the book is to a degree somewhat loose of structure, with elements, such as the characters of the Alders, Angelina and Isabella, Tomas only partially realized, seeming to drift in and out of the narrative as needed, their roles only hinted at and never fully realized or completely integrated. The relationship and purposes of the mages, as well as certain other magical elements, are hinted at, but as often as not never clearly revealed as to their true import upon events, remaining as incompletely visible as the spirits seen in the smoke of Tomas' or John's vision fires. And the death of one of the minor spirits at the end seems largely extraneous.
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By A Customer on October 6, 1998
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I wasn't familiar with Ms. Windling's work before this brilliant book. It was in the "Fantasy/Sci Fi" section of the bookstore--but it's really more like magic realism. I found out about it because American readers voted it one of the 100 Best Books of the 20th Century (the Modern Library 100 Best poll, check out their web site). I had to go out and buy a copy of the U.K. edition to find out why a writer I'd never heard of was on the list right next to William Faulkner. And I was gob smacked! What a book! It isn't like anything I've ever read before. I thought fantasy was all like hobbits and dragons but this is more like Alastair Grey or Angela Carter or Italo Calvino, in other words surrealistic, strange, intelligent. Filled with folkmore and mythology, some of it Native American, some of it Mexican, some of European and brought to life in a brilliant way. It's made me look at America in a whole new light. I'm recommending it to everyone I know and working my way slowly through the rest of Windling's books. This lass knows how to write!
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is the first full length novel of Terri Windling's that I've read. For years I've appreciated her seemingly tireless work in bringing us all sorts of fabulous short stories in her various anthologies, and I am not in the least disappointed in her novel. The Wood Wife is beautiful, brilliant, strange and powerful. Anyone who's ever been to Tucson will understand the magic that lives there, and how Windling captured that magic perfectly in her wonderful story. Being a poet myself, I was thrilled at Windling's use of poetry and representation of poets. All in all, an extremely satisfying book, and highly recommended by this die hard fan of Urban Fantasy literature! And congratulations to Terri Windling for receiving the 1997 Mythopoeic Award for this book. Well deserved!!
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Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
There is high fantasy, such as Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, urban fantasy as admirably espoused by authors such as Charles de Lint, and this piece, which might be called rural fantasy. Windling mixes elements of Celtic myth, native American folklore, the rarified worlds of poetry and surrealistic painters with the desert setting of the area surrounding Tucson to create a well crafted work of slightly nebulous otherness, an evocation of the mystical, that will resonate with and absorb the reader.
Maggie Black, journalist and sometime poet, divorced but still somewhat in love with her high-profile musician husband, is the main character. Maggie inherits the property of Pulitzer prize winning poet David Cooper upon his mysterious death by drowning (in the desert!). With the idea of writing Cooper's biography, she goes to his home located in the hills above Tucson. Once there, she is slowly drawn into the rhythm of life in the desert, finding beauty in the landscape and the local people, and gradually finding new interpretations of Cooper's most famous poems collectively known as The Wood Wife. From this prosaic beginning, the story slowly adds elements of the fantastic, as Cooper's inspiration for the poems and his lover's surrealistically painted visions of the creatures that populate the area becomes evident.
Maggie's character is well portrayed, that of a somewhat insecure woman slowly finding her own self worth from behind the smothering light of her former husband, finding her own long-buried poetic voice, finding a way to deal with fantastic events and creatures while remaining a practical cosmopolitan woman of today's world. Cooper himself becomes a distinct voice, as we see many of the letters that he wrote when he first settled in the area and was drawn into the area's ambience.
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