Friday, 8 July 2011

Sleeping Beauty, Indeed

Sleeping Beauty, Indeed & Other Lesbian FairytalesTitle: Sleeping Beauty, Indeed (& Other Lesbian Fairytales)
Editor: JoSelle Vanderhooft

Note: This is a collection of short stories - the individual authors are listed in the review itself.


Score: 6/10
Chart Entry Point: N/A


This is the first time that a collection of short stories has appeared on my blog, and so It's a new kind of review for me here. What I've decided to do is a quick review of each story, enclosed in an introduction and overall impression. I expect to follow this pattern in the future, although I have no plans to review short stories particularly often. So, the introduction:

"Sleeping Beauty, Indeed" is a book of fairy tales, with the exception that the "Damsels in Distress" are into women rather than men. Some of them are original stories, and others are lesbian versions of traditional fairytales. The idea intrigued me, which is why I decided to read/review it, and I'm glad I did, as two of the stories really left an impression on me. Also, it had the rather pleasant mild scent of apples...

1: Two Sisters by R. Holsen (Rating 2/10)
I didn't feel like I properly understood this one. It was written in the first person in the girl's local dialect, which I felt was a bit of a jarring one to start off with. But the main problem I had was that I'm not sure how it really fitted in with the theme of the book. It had lesbians in, although to be honest, it took me a while to realise that, I thought they were sisters, but i'm not sure how it was related to fairytales. If it's a retelling, then I had never heard the original I guess. It wasn't a bad story, but it seems to just be a romance, rather than a fairy tale. Fortunately, the rest of the stories were much more clearly linked to fairy tales.

2: Bones Like Black Sugar by Catherynne M. Valente (Rating: 5/10)
I enjoyed this very short story - but it was really weird. It's essentially about Gretel after the events of the original fairy tale. The woman she likes is the witch from the gingerbread house - who is of course, dead. You might think "Oh, she comes back from the dead?". No. This story verges on necrophilia. But there is some quite vivid description, which makes up for that. Right?

3: The Mute Princess by A.J.Grant (Rating 10/10)
Based on the fairytale of the same name, this story is the one that reads most like a fairytale. I've never actually heard the original fairytale, so this lesbian version will remain with me. The writing is the simple fairy-tale style, characters called "The King", "The Queen", "The Princess" etc, and could easily have been passed down for generations. It's a nice read, and one I wouldn't hesitate to read to children. I think this one really captures the spirit of what I think the book is about, and it's easily my favourite in the book.

4: The Seduction and Secret Life of Deirdre Fallon by Fran Fadella (Rating 10/10)
This is the second of the two stories that left a lasting impression on me. It's the only one in the book which is erotica, and it's written in letter/diary form. To me, both of these things suggested that it wouldn't be amongst the highest quality writing that I've read. I'm happy to say that I was wrong. This story managed to stir emotions in me to the point I wasn't entirely sure they weren't my own. Not a lot of writing can achieve that, and I've never encountered it in short stories before. This was an incredible story, and although it ended a bit quickly, It was to me, the best story in the book (although not my favourite, because it was more of a Faerie story than a fairy tale). The emotions were before the erotica part of the story,but that was actually done well too, which kind of surprised me.

5: Sleeping Beauty, Indeed by Regan M. Wann (Rating 6/10)
At first I wasn't sure about this one. Thie first page had me thinking negative thoughts about it, which continued for maybe two pages, before I started to enjoy it more. as the title would suggest, it's a retelling of sleeping beauty - except instead of pricking her finger, she pricks her hymen. This is discussed in the first couple of paragraphs, and kind of put me off. But when it tells it in more detail, it's better than it sounds. The twist at the end was unexpected, and overall, the story wasn't as bad as I had first thought it would be.

6: Future Fortunes by Kori Aguirre-Amador (Rating 4/10)
One of the longer stories, 'Future Fortunes' was interesting, but not particularly outstanding. The "twist" was quite predictable, and the fact that the prince had been promised the princess' hand was quite confusing, as the king apparently didn't want her to be touched by any man. Also, I was confused as to whether the prophecy said "she WILL not be touched by man" or "she MUST not be touched by man", as the king seems to think the latter, and takes preventative measures, and the princess assumes the former, as she just thinks fate will save her. Overall, not one of the best - although it did seem more like a fary tale than some of the others.

7: Undertow by Meredith Schwartz (Rating 7/10)
This was probably the most interesting idea of all the stories. It combines Cinderella and the Little Mermaid in that the prince from both fairytales is the same man. You can probably guess who ends up with who, but it's quite a sad story, and possibly the second most emotional in the book. I quite liked this one.

8: Voce by Kimberly DeCina (Rating 4/10)
This one dragged on a bit. It's about a mother and daughter, and a Trader and his daughter. The mother and Trader get married, and the two daughters find each other attractive. But the mother is a bit of a weird character, and for some reason seems to hate the trader's daughter. And maybe the trader too, I'm not really sure. I got quite confused in this one, and then the "fay folk" seemed to be a random addition to make it fit in the "fairly tale" category. Bits of it were nice to read, but it took a while to get through it.

9: Bird's Eye by Erzebet YellowBoy (Rating 9/10)
This was an interesting retelling of rapunzel - kind of. It's not about the hair, but she is trapped in a tower. It's a short story, but nicely written, with a quite unexpected ending. It's hard to say anything about it without spoilers, so I'll just move on to the last story.

10: Coyote Kate of Camden by Julia Talbot (Rating 5/10)
This one is based on the Pied Piper. Except instead of rats, it's coyotes. And there isn't so much emphasis on the music. I felt a little let down by this one, as it had little depth, but a bit more depth than your standard fairy tale. But again, it's a nice story, but average.

Overall, it was a nice selection of stories, despite the fact that a few of them weren't very fairy tale-y. The two stories that I rated 10/10 were extremely good, although quite different, and along with Bird's Eye, I would say that they the book is worth considering for them alone. There were few things I didn't like about the book as a whole, so the editor has done well there - except the font choice. It appears to be normal, but every time the combination "ct" appears, something curly happens to the 't', which was quite annoying. But as with most formatting issues, I quickly got over that, and found the book to be quite enjoyable.

More Information

Main Protagonist(s):Various Females
Main Antagonist(s):Various
Main Relationships: Homosexual (female)
Genre: Fairy Tales (retold)
Brief Synopsis:

Fairy tales never leave us. Romantic and sensual, dark and terrifying, old and new, these ten stories move beyond the old trope of prince and princess living happily ever.

Sleeping Beauty, Indeed offers readers imaginative tales based on the classic works - Cinderella, the Pied Piper - but retold through the lavender lens of lesbian experience. 


ISBN: 978-1590-212233
Website: Lethe Press Site
Amazon Link: UK | US
Pages: 175
Published: 2006 (Torquere Press)
Publisher: Lethe Press

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