Black Heart, Ivory Bones

[openbook booknumber=”0380786230″]

[rating:4/5]

This lovely book, Black Heart, Ivory Bones, is a collection of fantasy and horror tales edited by my two favorite ladies of their respective genres Ellen Datlow (horror) and Terri Windling (fantasy). This is one book in a series of six volumes of, as they call it, reconsidered fairy tales. These fairy tales are rewritten to change the focus of the originals or perhaps just to sharpen the point of them to showcase the sinister, the sensual, and the sometimes sadistic roots of our childhood fairy tales.

I have always loved reading re-written fairy tales since I was introduced to the genre in junior high. That was the first time I read this entire series straight through. Definitely another one of those books my parents should have known about before I got my hands on it, though this particular title kept it pretty light in the sensual department.


It’s my latest,” Goldy concluded, “my best, and the one which the New York Times recently described as ‘thrilling, sad, heartbreaking’ and ‘packs a huge wallop.’ Entitled The Goldilocks Syndrome, it’s currently available in the lobby at a today-only discount of $21.95. And if you act now, I’ll sign and date this sucker at no extra charge.”
–Goldilocks Tells All

Some of my favorites were “Rapunzel”, “Big Hair”, “The King with Three Daughters”, “And Still She Sleeps”, “Goldilocks Tells All”, “The Red Boots”, “You, Little Match Girl”, “The Cats of San Martino” and “The Golem”. And, yes, one of those (“You, Little Match Girl”) was by the infamous Joyce Carol Oates, whose work I normally find too harsh to stomach, this particular piece though was one of the most profoundly powerful in the collection. The other piece that was the best in my opinion was “And Still She Sleeps” which brings up the very valid point that if true love’s kiss is supposed to wake someone, and the only people available to kiss them were people that had not known them to love them in life, how are they ever to be kissed awake? True love is not determined on beauty alone.

My husband does not enjoy re-written fairy tales so I thought I would bring up his complaint since I don’t have any of my own to voice. He says that authors that write these sorts of stories just seem to take the characters in them and drop everything else to make them act out something completely different. I don’t completely agree with him because, though some stories do that, such as Big Hair, at the same time they do keep to the spirit of what the original story was trying to say, even if in a more modern, dark or surreal way.

If you enjoy reconsidered fairy tales, short stories of a more modern bent that take your old fairy tales and give them new and interesting life, then I would say definitely give this book a whirl. You won’t be disappointed.

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