Review: Little Red is Coming Home

Little Red cover

Little Red is Coming Home: A Collection of Almost Fairy Tales by Angelika Rust

First things first: I received a copy of this book from the author and this collection of almost-fairy tales is NOT FOR CHILDREN.

Angelika Rust was the first indie author to prove to me that selfpub could be done extremely well, so I’m always happy to read her latest. This clever, charming, and compact collection does not disappoint. Although all the stories are based on Little Red Riding Hood, each one has its own voice and style as it plays with some twist on the theme of a girl in red headgear taking cake and wine to her grandmother and meeting a wolf. “Tradition” is a comic action-adventure in which the characters are forced by family tradition (or the story itself) to go through the same ridiculous acts over and over until one of them breaks out. “Rich Little Bitch” takes laughably awful characters for a humorous erotic spin. “A Cautionary Tale” is exactly as labeled. “Another Body” purports to be about a monster, but who is it, really? “Never Too Old” casts Red as the monster; or as a supernaturally powerful protector of the innocent. “Little Red Queen” has the flavor of ancient saga with roots in human savagery. “The Other Leg” inserts the mythic into a contemporary domestic almost-comedy. “There Were Roses” brings real magic into play as a deceased grandmother comes to the aid of the Duke’s daughter. “Let Them Eat Cake” forges redemption out of malice.

These stories do not answer the inciting question of what would have happened if Red had simply shared her cake (or “basket of goodies,” as it was told to me) with the wolf. Each one raises its own questions and is satisfying on its own or in conversation with the others. The whole collection can be read in an hour or two, or each story read and savored on its own. Either way, this is a worthy addition to the library of any reader who enjoys a grown-up take on a childhood classic.

Review: Treacle and Other Twisted Tales

Treacle coverTreacle and Other Twisted Tales by Yvonne Marjot (Crooked Cat Books, 2017)

The stories in this excellent collection consist of familiar tales retold in new settings, or new tales inspired by familiar folk tale patterns. They are told in language that feels timeless and exactly right. As promised in the title, each comes with a twist: of humor, of horror, of unexpected magic.

“Aurora in Tatters” presents an Arctic Cinderella who makes her own choice. “Treacle” presents an apparently cozy and humorous situation, but watch out for that twist! “Imago,” set in an entomology lab, uses the language of moth life cycles to illustrate the end of life. “Maryika’s Journey” and “Maryika’s Christmas” follow a contemporary woman into Russian folktales. (I first encountered “Maryika’s Journey” in Paws and Claws, an animal-themed charity collection from Cake & Quill, in which work of mine also appears.) “Five Stay Home for Christmas” centers on a group of women with dogs and their plans for Christmas with no family commitments.

These are only a few of the gems in this volume. I recommend taking time to savor each one, though it’s hard not to gobble them like popcorn, as I did.