Saturday, November 26, 2011
Black Heart, Ivory Bones
The title: Black Heart, Ivory Bones
The author: Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling (eds.)
Publication: HarperCollins, 2000
Got it from: Vancouver, Chapters, 2001
I bought this book in Vancouver over ten years ago and for some reason, it's taken me this long to get around to it. This year I resolved to finally tackle it and put it to my all-important reading list. It's a collection of re-told fairy tales, some by very famous fantasy writers (Charles de Lint, Tanith Lee), some by authors who weren't nearly as famous then as they are now (Neil Gaiman, Susannah Clarke) and others who remain obscure.
Like many short story collections, the quality of these stories varied widely. Some of them, like "Rapunzel" were obviously linked to specific fairy tales, others were vaguely fairy tale in theme. Some were gritty and modern ("Big Hair" was about teenage beauty pageants, "Goldilocks Tells All" was like a Jerry Springer show involving psychiatry, "The Red Boots" made me think of a strange lesbian country-and-western song). I didn't like the ones that were gross or violent, like "Rosie's Dance" and "My Life as a Bird." "The Cats of San Martino" by Ellen Steiber was a fun story on its own, while, "You, Little Match Girl" was a haunting tale that accomplished a great deal of emotion in just a few short pages. Interestingly, "Mr. Simonelli, or The Fairy Widower" from Susannah Clarke's other short story collection The Ladies of Grace Adieu, first appeared here, long before Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell was first published, and it is an excellent story, well worth re-reading. Was this collection worth waiting ten years for? Probably not, but it wasn't entirely a waste of time.