Everyone who's taken the time to look at fairy tales beyond what Disney presents knows they're full of creepy and dark stuff. This latest anthology edited by Stephen Jones features a collection of the grimmest of classic Grimm tales alongside a new story from some of modern horror's best writers, penned in the Grimms' honor.
Now first and foremost you should know that Jones has exquisite taste in horror! The stories chosen for this collection are all pretty fantastic, though I do have to admit there were just a few that were less than favorites for me personally. But as I always say when reviewing anthologies, that's what I like about them!
All of the tales are dark and creepy, but some have a hint of whimsy. Some are quite gruesome and horrific while others are more atmospheric. Whatever your preference, as long as you like horror and fairy tales, there's something here for everyone.
The collection is bookended not only be two fairy tales of Jones's choosing, but also by two very different takes on Rumpelstilkskin, one by Ramsey Campbell and the other by John Ajvide Lindqvist. Other tales include takes on Rapunzel and Hansel and Gretel (by Tanith Lee and Robert Shearman, respectively), and stories inspired by lesser known (at least by me) tales like The Robber Bridegroom (Angela Slatter) and The Singing Bone (Neil Gaiman).
A few of my personal favorites include Neil Gaiman's "Down to a Sunless Sea," "Peckish" by Robert Shearman (really quite gruesome!), Michael Marshall Smith's fantastic "Look Inside," Brian Hodge's "Anything to Me Is Sweeter, Than to Cross Shock-Headed Peter," Peter Crowther's "The Artemis Line," and John Ajvide Lindqvist's "Come Unto Me." And trust me when I say this is by no means a full list of the tales I enjoyed. In fact, there are so many wonderful contributors here that frankly it's just easier to give you a table of contents instead :)
Introduction: Don't Scare the Children
The Wilful Child
Find my Name by Ramsey Campbell
The Singing Bone
Down to a Sunless Sea by Neil Gaiman
Open Your Window, Golden Hair by Tanith Lee
The Hare's Bride
Crossing the Line by Garth Nix
Hansel and Gretel
Peckish by Robert Shearman
The Three Little Men in the Wood
Look Inside by Michael Marshall Smith
The Story of a Youth Who Went Forth to Learn What Fear Was
Fräulein Fearnot by Markus Heitz
The Ash-Boy by Christopher Fowler
The Elves #1
The Changeling by Brian Lumley
The Nixie of Mill-Pond
The Silken Drum by Reggie Oliver
The Robber Bridegroom
By the Weeping Gate by Angela Slatter
Anything to Me is Sweeter, Than to Cross Shock-Headed Peter by Brian Hodge
The Elves #2
The Artemis Line by Peter Crowther
The Old Woman in the Wood
The Silken People by Joanne Harris
Come Unto Me by John Ajvide Lindqvist
I should note that sadly this is a UK release so it'll take a tiny bit of leg word for folks here in the States. No fear, though, Book Depository did have it available when last I checked.