Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Troll's Eye View: A Book of Villainous Tales

Edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling
New York: Penguin, 2009. 200 pgs. J SS Troll's
Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling's anthologies lie somewhere on the creepiness scale between Neil Gaiman (9-10) and Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (six-ish). In this most recent collection, a number of well-known authors have been commissioned to retell fairy tales from the villain's point of view. As with most collections, this one is a mixed bag, but most of the stories are charming or chilling, and always slightly disorienting. One of my favorites is Garth Nix's "The Unwanted Guest," a retelling of Rapunzel in which the witch is trying to ditch Rapunzel but can't get her out of the tower because of the "protection of guests" clause. "The Goose Girl" is cynically told from the viewpoint of the wicked handmaiden; the Three Billy Goats Gruff from the troll living under the bridge. Michael Cadnum's "'Skin" is quite a creepy version of Rumpelstiltskin, and Peter Beagle's "Up the Down Beanstalk" features the Giant's wife as a manipulative, somewhat frightening character in her own right. Not for the faint of heart, "Troll's Eye View" is nevertheless a sparkling collection for children who like their scary stories with a twist.

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