I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Redder Than Blood by Tanith Lee
Published: April 4th 2017 by DAW
Source: the publisher
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Redder Than Blood is an anthology of short stories by Tanith Lee. The stories in the collection are interpretations and variations of familiar fairy tales. They have a grimdark tone that’s reminiscent of the originals, but they take some of the subtext and make it the actual text. These stories have the dark and sensual atmosphere that Tanith Lee excels at, but are also grim and messed up. They are a delight to read, and make you think about old stories in new ways.
I’ve been savoring this collection slowly over the course of a year or so, reading a story here and a story there as suited my mood. I think that’s become my preferred way of reading short stories, because switching from story to story too quickly tends to break my immersion. The only drawback is that now, by the time that I finish the book and am writing out my thoughts and impressions, the stories that I read at the beginning of the book aren’t as fresh in my memory. So instead of a detailed review, I’m going to share some brief thoughts on a few of the stories that stood out to me the most:
The Reason for Not Going to the Ball is a retelling of Cinderella. In this version, the evil stepmother is the true hero of the story, and is trying to break the cycle of sexual abuse. Her treatment of Cinderella was an attempt to protect her, and to save her from her own fate. For the stepmother knows all too well that not all princes are kind and gentle.
In Wolfed, the story of Red Riding Hood and her Nana begins with a hookup at a bar. But in this version, it is the Wolf that is truly the prey, and Red Riding Hood and Nana are delighted by him.
My Life as a Swan was sad yet chillingly beautiful. It is the story of a woman who briefly escapes her life circumstances to live free as a swan, but then must return to her old life, while always missing that swan part of her that she can never feel again. And as much as it’s a story about a woman who becomes a swan, it is also a story about aging, and about time’s impact on us, and how our life experiences shape us so that we can never be the same people we were in our youth. This story was absolutely gorgeous.
Below the Sun Beneath is a feminist retelling of the twelve dancing princesses. The protagonist of the story is a soldier named Yannis who has lost a leg in the war. He meets an old witch in the woods, who tells him about the princesses and the king’s challenge to find where they go on the nights of the full moon. But unlike in the original version, it isn’t about Yannis in the end, and it’s the princesses who emerge as the victors.