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Ruby Slippers, Golden Tears cover Ruby Slippers, Golden Tears by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling (eds).

Published by Avonova Books

Reviewed by Leigh Kimmel

Once upon a time, fairy tales weren't just for children. Far from it, they were dark, hard-hitting parables about dealing with the perils of life in a very uncertain world. But as the traditional gave way to the modern, they were discredited for adult audiences and given over like worn-out furniture to the nursery, where they were Bowdlerized and purged of anything disturbing or substantial in order to make them "fit" for children.

Editors Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling have sought to recapture that original power in their series of anthologies of fairy tales retold in a modern sensibility for adult audiences. Many of the stories in this volume, as in the previous ones, will be far too dark and disturbing to be suitable for children. Some of them push the boundaries of horror, leaving the reader chilled as much as entertained. All of them are powerful and thought-provoking, and many will leave their readers thinking about them long after the book is finished.

It should be noted that "modern retelling" does not necessarily mean that the story will be recast in a modern setting. Some of the stories, such as "Masterpiece," are. Others are set in clearly defined historical periods, such as Elizabethan England in "The Printer's Daughter" or 17th century Japan in "The Fox Wife." But many, such as "The Match Girl," are told in timeless fantasy worlds which at the same time are often all too real. "The Crossing" takes place partly in our present-day world and partly in a Fifties-ish town called Chautauqua Falls that seems to be a halfway point between the realm of mortals and that of departed spirits, where the injured woman's spirit remains until her ties with the living have been severed and she is ready to proceed across the veil to the next world.

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This review posted September 8, 2000

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