by Dahlia Adler
At Midnight, edited by Dahlia Adler, is a creative, inclusive mix of fairy tale reimaginings from a diverse YA perspective. Some of the stories are funny, some horrifying, but all are inventive and subversive.
Different people will of course have different favorites, but my favorite story was “In the Forests of the Night.” In this retelling of “Fitcher’s Bird,” author Gita Trelease creates a bloody, vengeful, feminist and anti-colonialist version of the fairytale set in India during the British Raj. The setting, the heroine, and the theme of women helping women were creative and satisfying. The use of game hunting, courtship, and Imperialism heightened the themes of the original fairy tale, creating a perfect match. The story is suspenseful and the imagery striking and exciting.
Among other standouts, “A Flame So Bright” by Malinda Lo turns a less famous fairytale, “Frau Trude,” into a love story between two women in Puritan America. “Just a Little Bite” by Roselle Lim turns Hansel and Gretel into a contemporary horror story about class and capitalism, and “The Littlest Mermaid” by Meredith Russo blends fantasy, science fiction, and biology in a thoughtful, unusual reverse Little Mermaid retelling. Meanwhile two teenage boys find love in the reverse-Cinderella story “Hea” by Alex London, which begins with the incomparable line: “There once was a little boy whose mothers were all fabulous.”
An unusual and much appreciated feature of this anthology is that the original versions (or fairly standard versions of them, at least) are included as well as the retellings, allowing the reader to directly contrast and compare. There were a couple of fairy tales I had forgotten and having them right there was helpful. Each story stands out on its own, but is more interesting when the reader is familiar with its inspiration. Some of these stories are more polished than others, but this is a solid, creative addition to the fairytale retelling genre.
– Carrie S.
Fairy tales have been spun for thousands of years and remain among our most treasured stories. Weaving fresh tales with unexpected reimaginings, At Midnight brings together a diverse group of acclaimed YA writers to breathe new life into a storied tradition.
Fifteen celebrated authors reclaim classic fairy tales for a new generation:
Dahlia Adler, “Rumplestiltskin”
Tracy Deonn, “The Nightingale”
HE Edgmon, “Snow White”
Hafsah Faizal, “Little Red Riding Hood”
Stacey Lee, “The Little Matchstick Girl”
Roselle Lim, “Hansel and Gretel”
Darcie Little Badger, “Puss in Boots”
Malinda Lo, “Frau Trude”
Alex London, “Cinderella”
Anna-Marie McLemore, “The Nutcracker”
Rebecca Podos, “The Robber Bridegroom”
Rory Power, “Sleeping Beauty”
Meredith Russo, “The Little Mermaid”
Gita Trelease, “Fitcher’s Bird”
and an all-new fairy tale by Melissa Albert
LGBTQIA, Science Fiction/Fantasy, Young Adult
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