A Wolf at the Door and Other Retold Fairy Tales, edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling

Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling have, epilepsy together and separately, won the World Fantasy Award at least twelve times. Ellen Datlow was the editor of Omni Magazine for many years and edited and published many stories by authors such as William Gibson and Pat Cadigan. Terri Windling is the founder of the Endicott Studio, which publishes a journal of mythic and interstitial arts. She also wrote a novel titled The Wood Wife; it won the Mythopoeic Award in 1996. They also edit the Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror collections. As anthologists, they have about as much street cred as you can imagine.

ETA: Pursuant to a comment by Ellen Datlow herself, I would like to note that Terri Windling has not been her co-editor on the Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror collections for four years now. Her current co-editors are Kelly Link (who wrote “Swans” in this anthology) and Gavin J. Grant (who also writes short stories and runs a small press with Link). My fault for not looking things up properly.

A Wolf at the Door is a short volume (166 pages) from 2001 of thirteen fairy tales retold (as the title might indicate). The fairy tales include Cinderella, The Goose Girl, Jack and the Beanstalk, and the Twelve Dancing Princesses; the authors include Jane Yolen, Neil Gaiman, Gregory Maguire, and Patricia McKillip. A complete list of titles and authors is available at the end of this review.

The stories in the collection range from reimagined (Cinderella as an ample-sized young woman, or Jack and the Beanstalk from the giant’s wife’s point of view) to retold (the Twelve Dancing Princesses is fairly standard, but from the prince’s limited third-person point of view). Some are humorous (Cinder Elephant has twittering birds making fun of the Disney Cinderella); some are a bit melancholy (Ali Baba loses his brother); a few have sad elements (death, separated lovers, brothers turned into swans). A couple were based on tales I didn’t know: “Twelve Months”, for example, and a couple of Portuguese fairy tales. Continue reading A Wolf at the Door and Other Retold Fairy Tales, edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling