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Black Thorn, White Rose
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Manufacturer: Prime Books
Average Customer Rating: Average rating of 4.0/5Average rating of 4.0/5Average rating of 4.0/5Average rating of 4.0/5Average rating of 4.0/5

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Binding: Paperback
Dewey Decimal Number: 813.0876608054
EAN: 9780809557752
ISBN: 0809557754
Label: Prime Books
Manufacturer: Prime Books
Number Of Items: 1
Number Of Pages: 248
Publication Date: 2007-11-28
Publisher: Prime Books
Studio: Prime Books

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Editorial Reviews:

The award-winning editors of Snow White, Blood Red return us to distinctly adult realms of myth and the fantastic - with 18 wondrous works that cloak the magical fictions we heard at grandma's knee in mantles of darkness and dread. From Roger Zelansky's delightful tale of Death's disobedient godson to Peter Straub's blood-chilling examination of a gargantuan Cinderella and her terrible twisted "art," here are stories strange and miraculous - remarkable modern storytelling that remold our most cherished childhood fables into things sexier, more sinister... and more appealing to grown-up tastes and sensibilities.


Spotlight customer reviews:

Customer Rating: Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5
Summary: Fascinating adult fairytales
Comment: As Datlow and Windling make clear in their foreword, fairytales were not originally intended for children. While I've never minded the Disneyfication of these stories - do we really want six-year-olds watching the ugly stepsisters hack off their own toes? - there is something marvelously gothic that is lost for the adult reader.

BLACK THORN, WHITE ROSE finds that gothic brilliance and twists it, exploring new tales in old stories that are heartwrenching, brilliant and entertaining, almost without exception. A few highlights:

"Stronger Than Time" by Patricia C. Wede retells Sleeping Beauty with a twist even I didn't expect, and a bittersweet beauty undreamt-of by Aurora and her Prince. Try a Jewish take on Rumpelstiltskin with "Granny Rumple" by Jane Yolen, or the strangely compelling "Godson" by Roger Zelazny. Peter Straub disturbs us with "Ashputtle" and its bizarre schoolmarm. "Words Like Pale Stones" is the best retelling of Rumpelstilskin I have yet read, with kudos to author Nancy Kress.

I didn't personally care for "Somnus's Fair Maid," another Sleeping Beauty that reads like a regency romance without the sex. There are many who would, however - it's just that regency isn't my bag. "The Frog King, or Iron Henry" by Daniel Quinn was a bit too repetitive, too circular for my taste, though that was obviously the point of it.

I think my favorite was probably "Sweet Bruising Skin" by Storm Constantine, a retelling of the princess and the pea from the queen mother's point of view - and we can see it her way. But the most heartwrenching is indubitably "The Black Swan" by Susan Wade, who follows Constantine with another story of women's attempts to remain beautiful and the price they pay for it. It closes this anthology with the perfect mix of sorrow and rejoicing.

The key is that each story was unique, a vision of the old stories that is so different as to render the underlying fable irrelevant. They may have been inspired by Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and that poor girl sleeping on the pea, but their execution is focused through the prism of the varied minds brought together in this book. The result is a fascinating anthology, definitely worth your time.

Read the full review in CultureGeek: http://bellevillenewsdemocrat.typepad.com/culturegeek/2008/06/bookgeek-black.html

Customer Rating: Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5
Summary: A fascinating collection
Comment: I am done with Black Thorn, White Rose and overall I liked it. :) The stories I really enjoyed were Stronger Than Time (Sleeping Beauty based), Somnus's Fair Maiden (Sleeping Beauty based), Tattercoats (big favorite for adults, with some sexual scenes and a wonderful message about trying to keep love, passion and communication going in a marriage), Granny Rumple (Rumplestiltskin based with a twist about Jews), Godson (big fave - I think based on Cinderella and the fairy godmother), Silver and Gold (another big favorite; it's a poem about Little Red Riding Hood and the metaphorical dangers we meet everyday) and The Black Swan (based on the Swan Princess and females trying to meet the contemporary standards for beauty).

Some stories I didn't know before so I couldn't compare it in my head, but they were good stories in themselves. :)

Customer Rating: Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5
Summary: Back in print
Comment: For those interested, Black Thorn, White Rose has just been reissued in trade paperback by Prime Books with new cover art and design.

Customer Rating: Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5
Summary: More mature and skillful than the first
Comment: Having read this shortly after "Snow White, Blood Red," I was pleasantly surprised to note a definite improvement. Though the first collection did boast a number of strong stories, overall, I thought that those in "Black Thorn, White Rose" were more consistently effective, meaningful, and well-written. A key improvement was the avoidance of the previous volume's reliance on sex and gore for shock value, the overall effect of which was to create the impression that the authors were trying too hard. Mature elements alone do not necessarily constitute an "adult" story - the authors here instead work largely with emotional texture and maturity, without losing the simple pleasure of innovation and recreation (or of a good sex scene, as needed!).

Although all the stories that I enjoyed are too numerous to list, a few of my favorites were the following:
- Daniel Quinn's "The Frog King, or Iron Henry." Though confusing at first (I had to read half the story before I could begin to understood it at all), the cumulative effect of its repetition and circular dialogue is deeply tragic. It would be wonderful to read it in complement with Gahan Wilson's "The Frog Prince" from the first collection - both elusive, ambiguous portraits of lost and lonely frog princes.
- M. E. Beckett's "Near-Beauty." Hilarious, quirky, and wistful. A wonderfully bizarre sci-fi Frog Prince (another good counterpoint to the previous story), featuring a talking cane toad.
- Isabel Cole's "The Brown Bear of Norway." A frustrated and lonely young girl finds, loses, and remakes a connection with her enigmatic Norwegian penpal. Not only one of my favorite slightly-obscure fairy tales, but beautifully and eerily told in language that is both personal and mythically poetic.
- Jane Yolen's "Granny Rumple." Definitely packs a punch - an exceedingly sharp Rumpelstiltskin retelling set in a Russian Jewish ghetto, with an edge I haven't seen in many other Yolen stories. It only falters when it unnecessarily pounds in the theme of Jewish victimization.

Of course, this volume still had its down notes - Ann Elizabeth Downer's "Somnus's Fair Maid," which had the enormous detraction of its ineffective and poorly-written (at least for a staunch Austen and Susanna Clarke fan) veneer of Regency language; Midori Snyder's predictable and frothily, forcedly romantic "Tattercoats;" and Howard Waldrop's "The Sawing Boys," which, though sustaining a fantastically funny hick-town resetting of the Bremen Town Musicians, eventually gets lost in its own conceit, rendering its melancholy ending somewhat sudden and awkward.

Overall, though, I much more consistently enjoyed this collection, and hope to continue reading the series; I'll be very interested to see developments in later collections.

Customer Rating: Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5
Summary: Adult Fairy Tales... are Good!
Comment: Black Thorn, White Rose, is an interesting book. I am a big fan of authors that have enough creativity to create adult books by using our childhood fairy-tales. If you are a fan of fairy tales then I would recommend you read all of Ellen Datlow's books. They are interesting stories with characters that we have all grown up with but with an adult twist and a little adult humor. I would not recommend that children read this book. I hope that this helps... =-)


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