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Through a Tangled Wood
Written by Various AuthorsGenre: Fantasy, Fairy Tale
This short story collection contains seven retellings of classic tales, mostly set in sci-fi or fantasy worlds. It doesn't appear to be labeled as YA, though I would classify it as such. The primary characters in most of the stories range in age from maybe about twelve to young adult, and the emotional depth and reading level feel pretty YA to me as well. I'll write three sentences about each of the seven stories:
"Plan B - A Breeder's Tale Based on Sleeping Beauty," by Katie French.
This story is scary and evocative. There's a strong moody foreboding from start to finish. My only criticism would be that I felt that it didn't quite manage the fine balance between revealing the answers to the mysteries vs. leaving questions unanswered, so it didn't really feel done for me at the end.
"Tailless," by Ariele Sieling.
This is a retelling of the ugly duckling story as space sci-fi, with lots of action. A tailless girl who can see in full daylight struggles to prove herself worthy in a society of the tailed with night vision, until she discovers her true identity. Skillfully written.
"I Am the Maid," by Sarah Dalton.
Dystopian zombie Robin Hood. Nice action, some YA-style romance, and I really felt the difficulty of orphan Marian's struggle to lead her distressed community. With a well-crafted plot, Dalton manages to pack a lot of story into this short story.
"Three Wishes," by Marijon Braden.
Two contemporary teens buy a bottle from a thrift store, and discover that it contains a mischievous genie. Can they plan their wishes cleverly enough to outsmart the genie? Good perspective on getting what one wants.
"Killing Snow White," by Jamie Campbell.
This was the only story in the book that was truly weak. Snow White's whiny stepmother tells the story from her own point of view. The characters are flat and the happily-ever-after ending feels both predictable and forced.
"A House In the Woods," by H.S. Stone.
Hansel and Gretel in a dystopian future. The plot pretty much follows the fairy tale. This one didn't especially strike me, but there wasn't anything I didn't like about it.
"Flight," by Zoe Cannon.
A fantasy retelling of Beauty and the Beast. When Lucia's family is called to send a daughter to break the spell laid upon the prince, they give her up instead of her more charming, beautiful sister. It turns out Lucia's dreams of studying magic are more useful than beauty. Enjoyable classic fairy tale set-up with an original twist.
Overall, Tangled Wood is a fine collection of shorts. There's good variety to keep the reader's interest piqued, but enough thematic continuity to feel like a true collection. For the most part, the stories are well-written and imaginative. I'd recommend to anyone who likes YA sci-fi/fantasy.
Review Disclaimer: Book provided in exchange for an honest review.