By: Marie O'Regan (editor); Paul Kane (editor)
Release Date: March 3, 2020
Publisher: Titan Books
Received From: Publisher
(All reviews are our own, honest opinions.)
Another fantastic anthology edited by Marie O’Regan and Paul Kane has been published by Titan Books. Following 2019’s Wonderland: An Anthology comes Cursed: An Anthology of Dark Fairy Tales. Eighteen short stories are within this volume, bookended by two poems by extremely prolific author Jane Yolen.
Themes and influences differ from author to author, crossing more into the realm of fairy tales sometimes or straying a bit closer to horror in others. Each author brings something special and magical to their writing (or, perhaps, I’m just a sucker for the dark fairy tales that first built my love of books). All also have a certain readability to them. Stories read quickly, but pack a real punch, landing in that sweet spot of short fiction that is often strived for but can be hard to land.
Certain stories take the theme more literally. Curses feature heavily in multiple tales, with authors exploring the nature of curses, their peculiarities, and more. However, plenty of stories lean more into the realm of darker and, at times, more traditional, fairy tales.
The anthology opens with a tale from Christina Henry, an author whose works draw on fairy tales and classic stories, playing with the darkness and otherworldliness found within. This fantastic tale drew on aspects of several classic, easily recognizable fairy tales to explore the nature of ‘Prince Charming’ and who or what is really behind that ever enchanting mask he wears. Quite a memorable tale, “Red as Blood, White as Snow” certainly sets the stage for what’s to come.
As with many of his tales, modernity and the world of fairy tales meet in Neil Gaiman’s “Troll Bridge.” Traditional stories of trolls under bridges are played with here, showing the tragedy in a rather normal human life, the struggle to do more in life, and, finally, of succumbing. Whether to fate or sorrow remains up to the reader; the story is certain to linger.
Bram Stoker Award Winner Christopher Golden does call upon traditional fairy tales but classic literature for his foray into darkness and curses. “Wendy, Darling” draws on, of course, Wendy Darling of Peter Pan. And, true to his horror roots, the tale is a particularly chilling one.
Charlie Jane Ander’s brilliant story “Fairy Werewolf vs. Vampire Zombie” is, perhaps, my favorite. It is at once a tale built with traditional morals and lessons as befits any fairy tale with healthy side dosing of good old-fashioned fun. Set in a North Carolina bar patronized by creatures straight out of fairy tales, this story has plenty of action, humor, and darkness right all at once.
Many more stories are included, of course, and each is memorable in their own right. This is the perfect collection of dark fairy tales for grownups ready to explore the darker side of their childhood favorites and the otherworldly in our modern world. Cursed: An Anthology of Dark Fairy Tales edited by Marie O’Regan and Paul Kane is a fantastic anthology. I look forward to seeing future anthologies this duo curates.