A Curse Dark as Gold

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Apr 232009
 
A Curse Dark as Gold

When Charlotte Miller’s father dies, her world feels flipped on its head, but she knows what she has to do: what she always has. The Stirwaters Mill has been in her family for generations, and it has always been at the center of the town of Shearing. All of the townsfolk work in and around the Mill — it provides livelihood for all of them.

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 Posted by at 8:18 am

The Magician’s Book: A Skeptic’s Adventures in Narnia

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Apr 232009
 
The Magician's Book: A Skeptic's Adventures in Narnia

Most readers of Cabinet des Fées will be familiar with Narnia, the controversial creation of C.S. Lewis that still delights and sometimes horrifies both children and adults. First published in 1950, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe was followed by six more titles in The Chronicles of Narnia series. In The Magician’s Book: A Skeptic’s Adventures in Narnia, Laura Miller explores her love affair with the works of C.S. Lewis and with Narnia itself, and make no mistake — these are affairs, with all of the passion and heartbreak that entails.

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 Posted by at 8:16 am

The Sparrow

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Apr 232009
 
The Sparrow

Globalization has accomplished many things in the seventeen years since the end of the Cold War, but one of the less expected is the standardization of niceness. Any nation’s folk music can now be had on CD in luscious, soporific, over-Celted arrangements; any religious tradition can, it seems, be subsumed under the category of spirituality, a noble word but one which has come too often to mean only the vaguest sort of emotional uplift. The jaws of globalization crop the spikiest plants with dispatch. This is not always and everywhere bad, of course. But in a world where specific forms of sensibility are becoming ever rarer, it becomes easier to applaud some of the most specific of all, the more uncompromising the better, even while wondering how long they will hang on and who possibly wishes them gone.

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 Posted by at 8:10 am

The Real Reason the Queen Hated Snow

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Apr 232009
 
The Real Reason the Queen Hated Snow

In The Real Reason the Queen Hated Snow, Annette Marie Hyder has put together a neatly packaged “collection of poems, stories and mythos miscellany” in which she explores the archetypal meanings of some of our best-loved fairy tales. Culling references from such diverse fields as mathematics, folklore, botany, myth, religion and more, Hyder provides us with a wealth of information packed into the book’s 159 pages.

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 Posted by at 8:02 am

Black Thorn, White Rose

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Apr 232009
 
Black Thorn, White Rose

Black Thorn, White Rose is the second book in the series. Originally released in 1994 by Avon Books, the book has recently been re-released by Prime Books along with the following volumes Ruby Slippers, Golden Tears and Black Swan, White Raven. This is a very fortunate arrangement indeed, because these books were previously out of print and thus difficult to find. Thanks to Prime, younger readers (and older readers, such as I who missed them the first time) can appreciate the power, wonder and beauty of these reworkings of humanity’s most primal, essential stories — tales which, as Datlow and Windling so eloquently state in their introduction to the book, “confront unflinchingly the darkness that lies outside the front door, and inside our own hearts.”

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 Posted by at 8:00 am

Snow White and Rose Red

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Apr 232009
 
Snow White and Rose Red

I have to confess that this has been one of my favorite novels from the moment I read it some eighteen years ago. From the gorgeous cover art by Thomas Canty to the fairy tale happily ever after, everything about this jewel of a novel is lovely.

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 Posted by at 7:50 am

The Girl in a Swing

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Apr 232009
 
The Girl in a Swing

Alan Desland is a young Englishman in Copenhagen. Presumably around thirty, he is still a virgin; he describes himself as “a non-starter in the Aphrodite sweepstakes.” All this is about to change when he meets a gentle and beautiful German girl named Käthe (Karin in some editions), who appears to be entirely alone in the world. She elopes with him to England. Like many newlyweds, Alan goes through a period of some indifference to his mother, sister and indeed anyone who isn’t Käthe; life is perceived through “the watery, glittering light” of their eyes for each other. All, however, is not well. Käthe turns out to be guilty of a terrible crime and is haunted by a series of apparitions touching on different aspects of her crime.

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 Posted by at 7:48 am

An Encyclopedia of Fairies

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Apr 232009
 
An Encyclopedia of Fairies

Briggs’ work is outstanding for many reasons: its relative comprehensiveness, its readability, and its transparency, eschewing interpretation to present a distillation of actual belief. While eschewing strict positivism, she stretches the positivist strain in folklore and folklore research as far as it can go, not in a spirit of arrogance but one of modesty. This modesty is exemplified in her faithfulness to the attitudes real denizens of the islands bore to the fairies: she relished Yeats’ quote from a man who, when asked if he believed in fairies, grunted “Amn’t I annoyed with them.”

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 Posted by at 6:51 am

Fairy Tales And The Art Of Subversion

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Apr 232009
 
Fairy Tales And The Art Of Subversion

Fairy tales — whimsical stories for youth, timelessly heralded for their universal truths and innocuous beauty… or maladjusted tools of the power elite for compulsory indoctrination of children to socialized norms? The answer, rather complicated and frighteningly situated with the latter, forms the analysis of Jack Zipes’ Fairy Tales And The Art Of Subversion.

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 Posted by at 6:44 am

Canuck and Other Stories

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Apr 232009
 
Canuck and Other Stories

Rhea Côté Robbins is the distinguished director of the Franco-American Women’s Institute at the University of Maine (http://www.fawi.net). She has recently edited the translations of works of fiction and theater by three Québéçoise women in America: Camille Lessard Bissonette, Corinne Rocheleau Rouleau, and Alberte Gastonguay. All were born in the nineteenth century and lived well into the twentieth. Each work is addressed self-consciously to the Franco-American condition as experienced by women.

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 Posted by at 6:31 am

The Neverending Story

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Apr 232009
 
The Neverending Story

Like any good child of the 1980s I grew up on Wolfgang Petersen’s 1984 film The Neverending Story. I was obsessed with the Sphinx Gate and the Southern Oracle; I wanted my own pet Falcor the Luck Dragon; Gmork the wolf gave me nightmares. But like many of my generation, I was not immediately aware that the beloved film (and its disappointing sequel The Neverending Story II: The Next Chapter) were based on the book of the same name by German author Michael Ende, a book I read for the first time in 1991 as a lonely sixth grader who had very much in common with Bastian Balthasar Bux, the book’s heavyset, unpopular and bibliophilic protagonist. And it was only in 2008 when revisiting Fantastica again that I realized something: Ende’s book is not only an anodyne for isolated, bookish people, it is also — like most literary anodynes — a beautiful fairy tale.

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 Posted by at 6:23 am