For several months I avoided doing a post on the work of Helen Oyeyemi, one of the most obvious choices for this column, because she intimidates me. Oyeyemi’s work is of such high quality, in terms of structure and language, and her re-imagined worlds are so complex, that I could not see how I could …

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I have something to tell you: I had a Slavic grandmother, a Russian-Polish woman whose parents met in Bessarabia. She was born in Harbin, Manchuria, where there was a Russian colony, and then her family immigrated to the U.S. I went through a serious Russian phase in the nineties, trying to learn the language and …

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Jean Thompson is a former National Book Award Finalist, which will come as no surprise after you have finished the first story, “The Witch.” By the time you process a story like “The Curse” you will want to read more of Jean Thompson’s books and wonder why she hasn’t yet reached rock-star status. (I read …

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Most of us are familiar with “Rapunzel” by the Brothers Grimm. In 1698 Charlotte-Rose de Caumont de la Force wrote “Persinette”, an earlier version of this tale. Kate Forsyth’s Bitter Greens provides both a retelling of the Rapunzel tale and an imagined biography of its author. To read this novel is to dwell in more …

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Swans in Half-Mourning, a prose poem in ninety-six parts from Per Second Press, is perhaps the most innovative retelling of a fairy tale that I have ever encountered, one that needs to be experienced, not merely read. Challenging and unconventional, this book is for readers haunted by Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Wild Swans”, in which …

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If you miss the simple, effective stories girls tell at slumber parties, the five illustrated tales of Through the Woods just might keep you awake at night. Think of darkness and an atmosphere of foreboding splashed with blood. Remember how good it feels to be scared. Rejoice if you have children because this book can …

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Pack your survival kit. Almost every story in this anthology, which features contributors from around the world, takes place in a post-apocalyptic landscape, signaled by such ominous phrases as “the Aftermath”, “the Event”, “the Last Great War” and “the End Times”. Breadcrumbs, dragons and knights become high-tech tools, sometimes used for murderous purposes. The cautionary …

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This lyrical début novel by Elizabeth Gentry takes the reader through the process of awakening from a spell. When Maggie, the eldest of nine children, decides to leave her country life for a job in the city, she begins a journey into the darkness of her strict and secretive family. She and her siblings have been …

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Fans and practitioners of the fairy-tale form: you cannot afford to miss this collection of new stories written by accomplished writers from both sides of the Atlantic and beyond. From straightforward retellings of classic fairy tales to delightfully meta-fictive examinations of the genre itself, this anthology will find a wide audience–and maybe even pull in …

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Mermaid in Chelsea Creek introduces a teenage heroine whose problems go well beyond those of romance or friendship: Sophie Swankowski learns that her task is nothing less than to save humans from evil, defined here as the darkness that is inside all of us. Michelle Tea’s first YA novel examines teenage angst, free will and …

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