Through a Tangled Wood, Fairy Tale Anthology #review

By tweeting this post, you can earn promotional tweets from me as part of the Amazon Tweet Exchange.
Details here.

Cover links to

Through a Tangled Wood

Written by Various Authors

Genre: Fantasy, Fairy Tale

A variety of writers come together to twist traditional fairy tales into unusual and mysterious stories. From Beauty and the Beast, to Hansel and Gretel, to the Ugly Duckling, these stories will be sure to pull you into a fantastical world of princes, romance, and maybe a little science fiction.

"Plan B" by Katie French. When Nolan is selected as one of the few candidates to work in the Breeders' hospital, he thinks all his troubles are over. Now he can afford precious medicine to save his ailing father. He’s heard of the Breeders’ cruelty, of their inhuman experiments, but he’s sure they’re fabrications. Then he stumbles into the Plan B room and learns how truly awful the Breeders can be.

"Tailless" by Ariele Sieling. A retelling of the Ugly Duckling, set on a far away planet in an unknown galaxy. While fighting a war with her people's biggest enemy, young Bode struggles to understand why she feels out of place in her community, and why she, unlike her comrades, was born without a tail.

"I Am the Maid" by Sarah Dalton. A hostile zombie killing Maid Marian meets an ill-behaved ex-soldier Robin in this post-apocalyptic retelling of Robin Hood. When a young girl falls deathly sick, the two are forced to join forces in order to outwit the Sheriff, and the mysterious Guy Gisbon.

"Three Wishes" by Marijon Braden. When Aladdin rubbed the magic lamp, things went pretty well for him. But a few thousand years later, the world has changed and the genie is old, cranky, and doesn't play fair. Young Alison thinks she's found the answer to all her prayers, but instead finds that having wishes come true isn't all it's cracked up to be.

"Killing Snow White" by Jamie Campbell. A magical retelling of the story of Snow White, told entirely by the Evil Queen who supposedly tried to poison her. Think Snow White is innocent? Think again.

"A House in the Woods" by H.S. Stone. At the conclusion of a scavenger hunt for Old World artifacts, Hansel and Gretel find themselves lost on the outskirts of the city after dark. They stumble upon a house in the nearby woods, hoping that they will find help inside, but the house's inhabitant has other ideas.

“Flight” by Zoe Cannon. A retelling of Beauty and the Beast. Dragged to the palace at swordpoint, commanded to cure the cursed prince with a kiss, Lucia wants nothing more than to return to her solitary world of books and magical study. But she soon discovers that she and the prince share more in common than she could have imagined… and that the truth behind his curse could destroy—or save—them both.

Rachel's Review

This short story collection contains seven retellings of classic tales, mostly set in sci-fi or fantasy worlds. It doesn't appear to be labeled as YA, though I would classify it as such. The primary characters in most of the stories range in age from maybe about twelve to young adult, and the emotional depth and reading level feel pretty YA to me as well. I'll write three sentences about each of the seven stories:

"Plan B - A Breeder's Tale Based on Sleeping Beauty," by Katie French.
This story is scary and evocative. There's a strong moody foreboding from start to finish. My only criticism would be that I felt that it didn't quite manage the fine balance between revealing the answers to the mysteries vs. leaving questions unanswered, so it didn't really feel done for me at the end.

"Tailless," by Ariele Sieling.
This is a retelling of the ugly duckling story as space sci-fi, with lots of action. A tailless girl who can see in full daylight struggles to prove herself worthy in a society of the tailed with night vision, until she discovers her true identity. Skillfully written.

"I Am the Maid," by Sarah Dalton.
Dystopian zombie Robin Hood. Nice action, some YA-style romance, and I really felt the difficulty of orphan Marian's struggle to lead her distressed community. With a well-crafted plot, Dalton manages to pack a lot of story into this short story.

"Three Wishes," by Marijon Braden.
Two contemporary teens buy a bottle from a thrift store, and discover that it contains a mischievous genie. Can they plan their wishes cleverly enough to outsmart the genie? Good perspective on getting what one wants.

"Killing Snow White," by Jamie Campbell.
This was the only story in the book that was truly weak. Snow White's whiny stepmother tells the story from her own point of view. The characters are flat and the happily-ever-after ending feels both predictable and forced.

"A House In the Woods," by H.S. Stone.
Hansel and Gretel in a dystopian future. The plot pretty much follows the fairy tale. This one didn't especially strike me, but there wasn't anything I didn't like about it.

"Flight," by Zoe Cannon.
A fantasy retelling of Beauty and the Beast. When Lucia's family is called to send a daughter to break the spell laid upon the prince, they give her up instead of her more charming, beautiful sister. It turns out Lucia's dreams of studying magic are more useful than beauty. Enjoyable classic fairy tale set-up with an original twist.

Overall, Tangled Wood is a fine collection of shorts. There's good variety to keep the reader's interest piqued, but enough thematic continuity to feel like a true collection. For the most part, the stories are well-written and imaginative. I'd recommend to anyone who likes YA sci-fi/fantasy.

Review Disclaimer: Book provided in exchange for an honest review.