How to Fracture a Fairy Tale

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Pub Date 15 Nov 2018 | Archive Date 20 May 2019

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 “Jane Yolen facets her glittering stories with the craft of a master jeweller.”—Elizabeth Wein, author of Code Name Verity

“One of the treasures of the science fiction community.” —Brandon Sanderson, author of Mistborn

“[Yolen is] the Aesop of the twentieth century”—The New York Times

Fantasy icon Jane Yolen, adored by generations of readers of all ages, returns with this inspired collection of wholly-transformed fairy-tales, legends, and myths.

Yolen fractures the classics to reveal their crystalline secrets: a philosophical bridge who misses its troll; spinner of straw as a falsely-accused moneylender, the villainous wolf poorly adjusting to retirement. Each offering features an intimate new author note and poem, allowing readers to discover stories old, new, and beautifully refined for the complicated world in which we live.  

 “Jane Yolen facets her glittering stories with the craft of a master jeweller.”—Elizabeth Wein, author of Code Name Verity

“One of the treasures of the science fiction community.”...

A Note From the Publisher

Beloved fantasy legend Jane Yolen published her 365th book in 2018. Her work includes children’s fiction, poetry, short stories, graphic novels, nonfiction, fantasy, and science fiction. Her publications include Owl Moon, The Devil’s Arithmetic, Briar Rose, Sister Emily’s Starship, The Emerald Circus, and Sister Light, Sister Dark. Among her many honors are the Caldecott and Christopher Medals, multiple Nebula, World Fantasy, Mythopoeic, Golden Kite, and Jewish Book awards; as well as the World Fantasy Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award, and the Science Fiction Poetry Grand Master Award. Yolen is also a teacher of writing and a book reviewer. She lives in Western Massachusetts and St. Andrew, Scotland.

Beloved fantasy legend Jane Yolen published her 365th book in 2018. Her work includes children’s fiction, poetry, short stories, graphic novels, nonfiction, fantasy, and science fiction. Her...

Advance Praise

Praise for How To Fracture a Fairy Tale

2019 Locus Finalist 

“Each of the stories in this collection are light and fun making the entire collection a breezy read with genuine smile-inducing moments.”
 —John DeNardo, Kirkus

“Readers will find most of these stories relatable and powerful in their messages, and Yolen’s notes about each work’s origin are so interesting that they’re worth rereading in their own right.”

Publishers Weekly

“A pioneer of the modern fairy tale retelling, Yolen’s work is foundational. This latest collection records the template on which the genre was built.”

“If The Emerald Circus provided an extensive overview of Yolen’s dia¬logue with many of her literary predecessors from Andersen to Baum, How to Fracture a Fairy Tale serves as a useful and timely companion volume, demonstrating an equally astute and critical dialogue with the world’s folk traditions.”

“Every page was a treat to read.”
The Book Lover’s Boudoir

“Humor, tragedy, violence, and adventure create a strong emotional arc to this substantive anthology.”
—School Library Journal

“I absolutely fell in love with this collection of short stories.”
 —Epilogue Reviews

“These Tachyon volumes are an invaluable reminder of Yolen’s central role in contemporary fantasy, and perhaps an equally invaluable start¬ing point for readers.”
 —Locus on The Emerald Circus and How to Fracture a Fairy Tale

“A master storyteller at her best. I’ve been a fan of Jane Yolen and fractured fairytales for years and this collection doesn’t disappoint.”
—Chanda Hahn, New York Times bestselling author of Reign (An Unfortunate Fairy Tale)

“This collection is Jane Yolen at her best, telling stories you’ve never seen before but have known all your life, and stories as familiar as your left hand that you barely recognize, spun from shadows and moonlight and breathed through silvered glass. This is magic.”
—Patricia C. Wrede, author of the Enchanted Forest Chronicles

“Yolen takes well-known fairy tales and splits them apart, sometimes leaving them still quite familiar and other times shining a light from an unfamiliar angle to reveal new truths and possibilities”
—Margo Kelly, author of Unlocked

“Yolen’s writing bone-deep sort of magical, where you find yourself unsure where the original fairytale ends and her interpretation begins. These stories got into my skin, and my head, and my heart— the perfect blend of beautiful and frightening.”
—Jackson Pearce, author of Cold Spell and Sisters Red

“Yolen’s deftly-flowing prose highlights each unique perspective or imaginative speculation. Her tales, once fractured, don’t splinter—they sparkle.”
—Alex Flinn, author of Beastly and Beheld

How to Fracture a Fairy Tale is a fascinating exploration of how old stories we all think we know can become fresh and new and stunning in the hands of the masterful Jane Yolen. So many of Yolen’s stories here are like origami—with expert snips and twists and turns, she transforms the ordinary into fantastic art. This book can be read just for sheer pleasure or as a study for other writers in what is possible.
—Margaret Peterson Haddix, author of The Missing series and The Shadow Children series

“No one can spin a tale as magical as Jane Yolen, full of beauty and wonder, and more than a few sharp thorns!”
—Jessica Day George, author of the Rose Legacy series and the Dragon Slippers trilogy

“Ever the master storyteller, Jane Yolen weaves and spins and fractures her way through a far-ranging, culturally diverse array of fairy-tales.
Ranging from the comic (various famous fairy tale wolves kvetching in an Old Wolves Home) to the disturbing (a take on Cinderella involving incest) to the poetic (a lovely version of the Native American tale ‘The Woman Who Loved a Bear’), each tale is a finely crafted gemstone. Readers will be filled with wonder and delight, pain and joy, and may even be inspired to try their own hand at fracturing a fairy tale.
I particularly loved Yolen’s explanatory ‘How I Fractured These Stories’ section at the end, identifying the origin tale, each one accompanied by a luminous poem.”
—Edith Pattou, author of West and East

“Deeply moving and poignant reimaginings of the tales many of us know and love.”
Reader Fox and a Box of Books

“This collection of fractured fairy tales is a must-read for any lover of folklore. All of the stories are beautiful in their own way, and some are truly amazing. If you like fairy tales, especially retellings of them, you need to read this book.”
—Hazel G. Evans

“Last year I read and reviewed The Emerald Circus and fell in love with Jane Yolen’s storytelling. Having just closed the back cover on How to Fracture a Fairy Tale I can’t help but wonder how such levels of creativity are possible.”
Infinite Text

“Yolen is a master of the fairy tale form – you’ll find her writing style both enchanting and enticing as you wind through these modern adaptations to discover her unique perspective. The collection is a masterpiece of fairy tale storytelling.”
Reviews and Robots

“Overall, this was quite an eclectic collection, and it was wonderful “catching up” with Ms. Yolen again. Highly recommended for fans of fairy tale retellings!”
Llama Reads Books

 “Yolen is a master of the fairy tale form – you’ll find her writing style both enchanting and enticing as you wind through these modern adaptations to discover her unique perspective. The collection is a masterpiece of fairy tale storytelling, one that should be read by lovers of fairy tales and those new to the genre.”
 —Reviews and Robots

“Yolen has long been a major voice in children’s literature, and this story collection offers a chance to meld fairy tales with fantasy with the same brilliance of The Emerald Circus.”

“Jane Yolen has an impressive array of devices in her writer’s toolbox; she truly is a master of her craft.”
 —Way Too Fantasy

“In How to Fracture a Fairy Tale Yolen employs all the necessary tools to keep readers engaged. Her stories are funny, outrageous, epic, dreamy, and everything in between.”
 —Universe in Words

Praise for Jane Yolen
“The Hans Christian Andersen of America”

“With over 350 books, Jane Yolen is a legend in the world of children's and young-adult literature, but her acerbic and witty adult fiction and poetry offer their own pleasures."
Chicago Tribune

“Jane Yolen is a gem in the diadem of science fiction and fantasy.”

Praise for The Emerald Circus

“From Snow Queen to spaceship, The Emerald Circus is a delight.”
—Patricia A. McKillip, author of the Riddle-Master trilogy

“There is simply no better storyteller working in the fantasy field today. She's a national treasure.”
—Terri Windling, author of The Wood Wife

[STARRED REVIEW] “After more than a decade, Yolen (Briar Rose; Sister Emily’s Starship and Other Stories) returns with 16 stories that take readers sideways and upside down through beloved fairy tales and classic tales such as Peter Pan and The Wizard of Oz, while also reimagining the lives of famous storytellers such as Hans Christian Anderson, Edgar Allan Poe and Emily Dickinson. Verdict: These delightful retellings of favorite stories will captivate newcomers and fans of Yolen as she once again delivers the magic, humor, and lovely prose that has attracted readers for years.”
Library Journal, starred review

[STARRED REVIEW] “VERDICT: These highly entertaining retellings are perfect for teens fans of fairy tales and classic literature, though they are easily enjoyed without any background knowledge.”
School Library Journal

“Ever the wordsmith, Yolen dazzles with her first short story collection for adults in years.”

“An impressive overview of the author’s breadth and career, this collection will appeal to the author’s existing devotees—or to anyone who has ever thought that “happily ever after” left too many questions.”

“Jane Yolen’s [The] Emerald Circus may be my favorite book of the year, period, with apologies to Jeff Vandermeer’s Borne.”
—Adult Books for Teens, School Library Journal

“Everything Yolen writes, including The Emerald Circus, is original and timeless.”
—Elizabeth Wein, author of Code Name Verity

Praise for How To Fracture a Fairy Tale

2019 Locus Finalist 

“Each of the stories in this collection are light and fun making the entire collection a breezy read with genuine smile-inducing moments.”

Marketing Plan

-Advertising and co-op in national print, online outlets, and social media
-Promotion at major trade and genre conventions, including BEA, Readercon, the International Convention for the Fantastic in the Arts, and the World Fantasy Convention
-Features, interviews, and reviews targeting venues including the Washington Post, NPR, Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Chicago Tribune, and the San Francisco Chronicle
-Author tour dates in New England, Scotland, and national TBD
-Planned galley distribution and book giveaways to include NetGalley, Goodreads, Edelweiss,, and additional online outlets

-Advertising and co-op in national print, online outlets, and social media
-Promotion at major trade and genre conventions, including BEA, Readercon, the International Convention for the Fantastic in...

Available Editions

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ISBN 9781616963064
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Average rating from 285 members

Featured Reviews

This is a beautiful collection of stories that feels like I'm discovering fairytales all over again. Yolen's constant awareness and wit fractures plots and characters archetypes into something new and familiar. Granny Rumple in particular brings this to mind as Yolen gives it a haunting familiarity for those who know their Jewish history - the spilled blood, fear in the air, and a family torn apart in a patter that repeats for hundreds of years. Her other stories also demonstrate how fairytales do not exist in a vacuum, and are products of the cultures and people that give birth to them. This reminds us the power of stories, and is something she expands on in her notes in the end. In fact, I wish more anthologies had these author's notes because it really does show the fun and creativity that was involved.

I would recommend this to fans of fairytales, those who suffered hearing my undergrad research on monster narratives, and folklorists, Buy a physical copy because this should be something to cherish.

On a side note: do you know how hard it is to find reimagined Jewish folktales? I am literally going to throw copies of 'How to Fracture a Fairy Tale' at my friends because there are now more to read.

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I've spent a good deal of my academic life studying myth and folklore and still love reading fairytales twisted and turned into different - yet familiar - narratives. Yolen's retellings cover a range of fairytales, myths and legends from all over the world, updating some of them with an irreverent voice, while maintaining the dark undertones of the others, all retold in an undeniably charming fashion that keeps the tradition of storytelling at its centre. What I particularly love about this 'fractured' collection are the reminders about how storytelling (that is, the verbal repetition of stories and not the writing down) used to be - and still is - so integral to culture, and how these stories would take on different elements and elaborations as they were repeated, becoming new tales for new generations, blurring events, interpretation and personal responses.

A fantastic collection and one that I thoroughly enjoyed. Highly recommended.

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In this book Jane Jolen decided to recreate fairy tales giving them an alternative ending. I laughed through all the stories. Some of the stories were well known to me, others were new since I had never read the original story, but now that I finished the book I'm anxious to read the originals that inspired Jane Yolen to re-imagine such wonderful stories. My favorites I have to say we're the Snow White story that she centered in mother times U. S. A. Then there was the one about the Bad Wolves in the Happy Den old home. I also loved the story of Rumpelstiltskin set as a Jewish money lender who was misunderstood and killed at the end for no fault of his own. Love all the stories, can't wait to talk about this book with other people.

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Really enjoyable collection of short stories based on fairy tales. The re-imaginings are both creative and enjoyable, with new perspectives and unexpected narrators.

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I love listening to cover songs. Sure there are a lot of really crappy versions where the singer is simply mimicking the sound and stylistic flourishes of the original artist, but I am talking about cover songs where the new artist brings a reinterpretation to a familiar piece of music, and makes me hear that classic song in a completely new way.

For just the same reason, I love reading retellings of classic novels or fairy tales. I love comparing my knowledge and memories about the original with the new interpretation and understanding that I find in a successful reworking. And finding this book on NetGalley has been like stumbling upon a treasure chest for me.

Jane Yolen’s How to Fracture a Fairy Tale is a collection of short stories that are reinterpretations of folk tales and fairy tales from a large variety of traditions. She resells classic fairy tales from Hans Christian Anderson and the Brothers Grimm, Native American stories, Greek Mythology, Japanese folk tales, Celtic mythology and more. And I found each and every story different in tone, in style and from a different point of view, both from the original and from each other.

The last chapter of the book is an explanation about how she came to create each of these stories, accompanied by a poem she wrote for each one. It was only after reading this chapter that I understood that this book is a collection of stories taken from her 50 year writing career. I am absolutely thrilled to have the opportunity to seek out her other work.

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I received an advance reader copy of this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. How to Fracture a Fairy Tale comes out on November 5th.


What if Icarus survived his fall into the sea? What if the village that once wronged the pied piper made the same mistake again? What if Cinderella was fat in a world of thin people, and the prince still loved her more than anyone else?

In this collection, author Jane Yolen fractures well-known stories to reveal the beauty–and ugliness–within.


If you’ve been keeping up with this blog, you may have already realized that this book sounds a lot like the last one I reviewed, Can’t Catch Me. And it is very similar, except for one major thing: this collection is everything I wanted from the other, and more.

These stories are not merely the same story from a different perspective (although sometimes they are from a different perspective). Some of them are stories weaved together from many inspirations in one culture’s folklore, some move the story to a new time and/or place, and some play on the expectations for the story and fairy tales in general to make a point. My favorite, the one that moved me the most, is the fracturing of Rumpelstiltskin. I won’t go into details about it, because I believe it is much more moving if you read it for yourself, so if you’re curious, you’ll just have to get the book.

What made the collection even better is that at the end, there is a section of notes and poems; each story has about a paragraph explaining how Yolen came to write it, and an accompanying poem on the same story, though not always with the same take on it. I love reading about how someone came up with their ideas, and the notes being at the back means that if you don’t care to read them, you can easily skip them.


🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 5/5 stars

This collection of fractured fairy tales is a must-read for any lover of folklore. All of the stories are beautiful in their own way, and some are truly amazing. If you like fairy tales, especially retellings of them, you need to read this book.

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Yolen definitely has a way of enchanting her audience just like the original tales she's fracturing. This book was a joy to read. I really love short stories and the ones I enjoy the most are retellings of fairy tales or those that are reminiscent of the old tales I have known by heart since I was a little kid. It's a beautiful collection of stories that feels like I'm discovering fairytales all over again.

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This fine assortment of fractured fairy tales, written by " the Hans Christian Andersen of America" are a well-written set of tales that please the eye and the imagination. Some of these I have read previously, but are still a worthwhile re-read.

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Loved this book. Give the author a fairy tale and she can definitely fracture it. I loved all the stories, but Godmother Death was my favorite one. Great collection of stories. New take on old fairy tales. Great book. I received this book from Net Galley and Tachyon Publications for a honest review and no compensation otherwise.

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This is a 5 star read for me!! I like how the stories were fractured and mashed-up to give a new flavor and tone to it. It is not overly done and the lessons and morals that you could get from it is still there and in fact it is also leveled up along with the story. If you enjoy fairy tales and would want to read them in a different perspective then this book is definitely for you!!

If you want to read my complete review, it's here!! ➡️

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I loved this book! The full review will be posted soon at! Thank you very much for this wonderful opportunity to connect books to their readers!

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I enjoyed this book so much! How to Fracture a Fairy Tale is a retelling of classic tales in new ways from a writer The New York Times called “the Aesop of America.” I highly recommend this to anyone who enjoys twisted versions of classic fairytales.

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This collection of twisted fairy tales was exactly what I was hoping it would be. Unique and inventive with a touch of the stories I've heard retold again and again. There is something to be said for the ability to twist stories so well known and this collection makes it clear why Jane Yolen is considered to be one of the best! I enjoyed both the stories rooted in beloved stories and the ones I had no knowledge of. This is the perfect addition to any fairy tale lover's collection.

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Wow. This was a little bit of magic. I am a huge fan of retellings and loved the new perspectives of old fairy tales. I think Granny Rumple might be my favorite. Or Godmother Death. Heck they all were wonderful. I loved how Yolen broke these classic tales and breathed new life into them. I cannot wait to get my hands on a physical copy so I can read it over and over again for years to come.

Full review will go live on my blog two weeks before the release date.

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This is not your average book of normal fairytales. This is a collection of twisted fairytales that don't exactly end up right. I loved it. Each story the author touched became a funny, unique, sometimes sad brand new fairytale. I loved it!

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I love fairy tales. The old fashioned kind, with children being threatened with roasting and giants trying to eat boys named Jack (my father in law’s name). One of my favorite cartoons on TV was “Fractured Fairy Tales”. How to Fracture A Fairy Tale reached out to my twisted sense of humor along with the beautiful cover.

Jane Yolen is the godmother of fantasy and fairy tales. I haven’t read her work before, but since reading this book, I will look for her other tales. This is a collection of traditional and some lesser known fairy tales and folklore from around the world, taken apart and put together again like Humpty Dumpty with humor and at times, darkness.

I found myself trying to figure out which tales are based on ones I know. The author kindly has a chapter at the end about how she ‘fractured’ the tales and what the base story is for some on her stories. Many of her fractured tales I enjoyed much more than the originals.

First, thanks to NetGalley and Tachyon Publications LLC for letting me read the ARC for this book. I can see it would be a great holiday gift for lovers of fairy tales or short stories. This could be a good read-to book for kids but some of the stories are definitely adult-there is an incestuous king and gruesome deaths.

My favorite stories in the collection include “Mama Gone“- a story set in Appalachia which happens to be where I live. It is a beautiful vampire story, as much as that sounds to be impossible. I also loved “The Fox Wife”-based on traditional Japanese folk tales about kutsunes ( I collect Japanese horror and folktales), “Happy Dens or a Day in the Old Wolves’ Home” which tickles my funny bone since I work with geriatrics at the hospital, and “Snow in Summer“-also based in West Virginia with a twist on Snow White.

How-to-Fracture-a-Fairy-Tale-194x300I highly recommend this book and rate it 5 out of 5 stars.

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I've been a fan of Jane Yolen since I was a teenager in the 1970s. I am now (much) older than she was when I first starting reading her. Many of the books and authors I thought were brilliant as a teenager have not held up... this is not the case with Yolen, whose brilliance cannot be mistaken.

Some of these stories are funny, some are sad; some are old friends, some were new to me, but all were wonderful. Yolen is just a treasure, that's all.

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I’ve always loved Jane Yolen’s work. This collection of fairy tales retold was excellent. It covers mythology from around the world and puts an entirely new lens on time honored stories. I also enjoyed the poems at the end that went with every story. I look forward to recommending it to anyone in the mythology section, especially since it can be enjoyed by a large age range.

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What is there to say except “Jane Yolen wrote it.”? As with all the books of hers that I have read (no, I haven’t read them all), she catches hold of you and pulls you in. Some are traditional in feel, others make me want to go back and explore the originals again so I can try and see how she changes and morphs them about. I enjoyed every one!

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The title alone caught my attention, and then when I saw that this book was written by Jane Yolen, I knew I had to read it!

In an introduction by Marissa Meyer, she writes, "There is a history of tales told and retold that spans centuries--even millennia--and reaches to all corners of the globe."

How to Fracture a Fairy Tale, by Jane Yolen, is a collection of short stories and poems based on familiar fairy tales--but altered in fun, creepy, and imaginative ways. Yolen explains, "A fracture is a break . . . [it] can hurt like a sprain or reveal like a geode being split apart to show the jewels within."

Yolen takes well-known fairy tales and splits them apart, sometimes leaving them still quite familiar and other times shining a light from an unfamiliar angle to reveal new truths and possibilities.

This collection is a perfect choice to read when you have only a few minutes at a time to devote to the book. Read it while you're waiting at the doctor's office, or waiting in line to pick up your kids, or waiting anywhere!

Some of my favorite lines from the book:

"I felled her with a single blow of the fry pan."

"Of course he had the big bran-muffin eyes and the sled-jump nose and the gingko-leaf ears that identify a troll immediately."

"Instead she floated like a swan and the river bore her on."

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I absolutely loved this collection of modern fairytales. Couldn't put it down.

Many thanks to NetGalley, the publisher, and the author for my ARC. All opinions are my own.

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Jane Yolen does it again, particularly her short taking place during the Holocaust. I've been a fan for as long as I've been bookselling, and Jane Yolen makes our job INCREDIBLY easy! This is simply an amazing read!

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This is the perfect read for anyone wanting a Disney antidote. Such refreshing retelling, you will fall in love all over again. With a delightful narrative voice throughout, the reader will never stop at just one tale.

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How to Fracture a Fairy Tale by Jane Yolen was such a fun read. Apparently I have been living under a rock because I had no idea that Yolen wrote anything other than picture books. I use her “How Do Dinosaurs” series in storytime at the library often, so when I saw that she wrote a YA book I was intrigued. Turns out she is the author or editor of more than 365 books and has won a ton of awards for her work. On her website she actually has an event going called #Yolen365 where you can read a book a day.

How to Fracture a Fairy Tales is a selection of short stories based on various fairy tales and folk stories. I wasn’t sure how I would feel about this book since I rarely read YA and I couldn’t tell you the last time I read a short story. I ended up loving it! These stories were so creative and fun. I loved that despite being “fractured” they kept the essence of the original fairy tales. Many of the stories were dark and did not have the happy endings we are used to with Disney and other retellings. Though I really enjoyed all of the tales, a few stood out to me. Some of my favourites were “Granny Rumple”, “Green Plague”, “Once a Good Man”, and “The Bridge’s Complaint”. All of the stories were so unique. Some were serious and dark, and then it would be followed by a tale that would make me laugh out loud. “The Bridge’s Complaint” will stick with me for some time because I couldn’t believe that someone could take the tale of the “Three Billy Goats Gruff”, tell it from the Bridge’s point of view and entertain me so much. Also, I loved that Yolen drew inspiration from tales from stories all over the world and set her new fractured fairy tales in a variety of different locations as well. I love a good fairy tale retelling and I will definitely be checking out some of Yolen’s other works.

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This was my second Jane Yolen collection of short stories and I think it is official that she is one of my favorite fantasy writers. How to Fracture A Fairy Tale features an array of inspiration from rumplestiltskin and the little mermaid to more unknown source material like the fairy flag. Each story is accompanied by a short description of where her thoughts came from as well as a short poem.

For fans of Naomi Novic and Gregory Maguire, this book is sure to hit your sweet spot.

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Jane Yolen is the Queen of fairy tales, and this collection is proof! She manages to find new and different ways to make the stories fresh while keeping them recognizable.

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"How to Fracture a Fairy Tale" is a microcosm of the numerous folktales the author, Jane Yolen, has written throughout her career. Everyone has heard and/or read at least one of her folktales without realizing they were written by her. Jane Yolen's variants of folktales are just as enjoyable as the "classic variants" such as "Cinderella," "Sleeping Beauty," "Hansel & Gretel," "The Little Mermaid," "The Pied Piper of Hamelin," etc.

Fairy tales are one of the original methods of storytelling. Since people began telling each other stories, some parts of each story were kept for substance and the rest were changed in favor of both the storyteller and the audience. Think of how each country/region has its variant of "Cinderella." And, how many cartoons had "fractured" fairy tales within an episode for the audience's entertainment?

"How to Fracture a Fairy Tale" consists of "fractured" folktales you may or may not have heard or read as a child by Jane Yolen. Reading different variants of the familiar, but altered tales rekindled my enjoyment for folktales and reminded me as to why I continue to enjoy them. For me, reading "Sleeping Ugly" as an adult brought back memories of when I first heard the tale as a child. The "explanation" of how the author has been able to write so many new tales from the older ones, which is after the Introduction and before the selection of tales, is worth reading as well because it provides insight as to how others such as Robin McKinley, Rick Riordan, and Disney fracture and retell these older tales. This collection of tales can be enjoyed by readers of all ages due to its familiarity.

I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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How to Fracture a Fairy Tale is a compilation of the world's greatest hits, matching old tales with new characters and settings. Yolen is a master of the fairy tale form - you'll find her writing style both enchanting and enticing as you wind through these modern adaptations to discover her unique perspective. The collection is a masterpiece of fairy tale storytelling, one that should be read by lovers of fairy tales and those new to the genre.

I'm a lover of fairy tales. I've long collected various editions of the Grimm and Andersen stories, reveling in their intricate illustrations and terrifying tales meant to scare children into behaving. Our culture has changed these stories since their inception, their modern retellings meant to enchant in lieu of fear. 

How to Fracture a Fairy Tale is that rare addition to the genre - a modern take on the tales that doesn't seem forced, that sticks with the enchanting cadence of fairy tale storytelling while still feeling fresh. I was delighted by the changes made to tales I know well, and fascinated at the stories I had never read. 

Full review will be published at:

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This is a stunning collection of fairytales that are slightly or sometimes monstrously twisted. fractured totally changed in intent and content to the brilliant pen of Jane Yolen. A chapter at the end features an author's note and poem for each tale often explaining how the tale was fractured.The book is full of tales from around the world some familiar others not so much but all enchanting. A fun read!!!! Great as bedtime stories for adults.

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How to Fracture a Fairy Tale is an absolutely astonishing collection from the mind of Jane Yolen. If you’re a fan of fairy tales, or reading twisted versions of them (not to say that the original versions aren’t exceptionally twisted to begin with…) then this is something you may want to look into. Yolen has mastered the art of looking at a story in a different light, breathing new life into a tale told thousands of times.
But this novel isn’t just a compilation of short stories (though I would have been very happy with that much) but also notes on the stories, and even some poetry. Not every story has an explanation or a poem, but most of them have one or the other. It really adds to the depth of the tales being told. Personally, I loved this touch as I wasn’t always able to identify the fairy tale her works were being based off (more than one of them I was not familiar with in the first place, as it turns out).
The stories and poems here vary from whimsical to disturbingly dark; leaving the reader feeling haunted or chilled. Being that these are fractured fairy tales, most of them have a darker undertone. Sometimes the elements used could be considered disturbing, but they’re all beautifully written despite that.

Snow in Summer
It’s fairly easy to guess which tale Snow in Summer is based off of. And yet Yolen still was able to make reading her tale an experience. While one would assume it’d go a certain direction (the one we’ve all become so used to) Jane Yolen put a slight spin on it, not altering the core of the tale…but making it hers and adding unexpected elements.

The Bridge’s Complaint
Warnings: Animal death
The Bridge’s Complaint is one of my favorites in this collection; if nothing else than for its utterly unique view on telling the story. Who would have ever expected to hear The Three Billy Goats Gruff told from the perspective of the bridge it was set upon? It certainly wasn’t something I expected, but I have to admit that it worked really well in this instance.

The Moon Ribbon
I was able to identify The Moon Ribbon as a retelling of Cinderella – you can see some obvious elements from it right away. But I missed the second story that was pulled into this tale, to create the unique telling. Jane Yolen mentions in the back that she also used George MacDonald’s The Princess and the Goblin as inspiration. While elements of both have been woven together here, the work is purely Yolen’s doing. You can see what she added (even without my knowing much about The Princess and the Goblin). I loved this tale. It read like a poem, and very appropriately it gave Cinderella the poetic justice I also felt it deserved (and by that I’m obviously referring to the step-mother and step-sisters).

Godmother Death
I’ll confess that I’d never heard of the tale that this one is based off – at least I don’t remember it if so. It’s a folklore called Godfather Death. So you can already see how it’s been altered to suit our writer’s needs. This is another one of my favorites from the collection. I loved the nature of Godmother Death – from her agreement to be a godmother to the way she handled her duties. It was all brilliantly done. And it wouldn’t be a true fairy tale if there wasn’t punishment for any attempt at trickery.

Happy Dens or A Day in the Wold Wolves’ Home
This one is more a collection of short stories within itself, but I love that change as well. How often do you hear of all the wolf based fairy tales being merged into one telling? (Well, conversation in this case). Never! By this point in the collection I found myself thoroughly impressed by all the unexpected elements I’ve come across. I probably shouldn’t have been surprised though, this sort of writing is exactly the reason why I’m a fan of Jane Yolen.
Here we see references and retellings of the Big Bad Wolf, The Three Little Pigs, and The Boy Who Cried Wolf. The first was my favorite of the retellings, but I don’t want to explain the reason and spoil it for everyone. Let’s just say that I really enjoyed the little reference made there.

Granny Rumple
Where Happy Dens made me smile, Granny Rumple broke my heart. It’s a retelling of sorts, though it feels too rooted in real life to be able to really say that. Essentially the story explores the concept of Rumplestiltskin being Jewish. This one broke my heart because there are times in our history where this sort of event truly would have happened. I suppose it struck too close to home, but that made it feel more real and less whimsical…but at the save time it was a terrifyingly good perspective. After all, fairy tales are meant to teach a lesson, and I certainly learned one here.

One Ox, Two Ox, Three Ox, and the Dragon King
This was another tale that I didn’t recognize, but I was okay with that. This one is based off of Chinese folklore – pulling bits and pieces from several different tales (I couldn’t tell you which ones specifically – I’m going to have to add a few compilations of folklore to my TBR pile after this).
It’s a longer story, with lots of repetition and buildup…but I like the point that’s being made here. On the whole it’s much more positive than many of the others included in this collection, and I’m sure that was intentional (in the description at the end Jane Yolen mentioned that she considers Eastern folklore to be much more positive with their dragon lore).

Brother Hart
Brother Hart is based on another Grimm tale, which I think so far have all been my favorites by Yolen. I’ve noticed that she has come back a couple of times to the Hart/stag theme, and both times I’ve loved it.
The tale is based off of Little Brother, Little Sister. Though really it shows the events that follow the original story. That makes it unique among the others so far, in that it twists the fairy tale but also carries it forward.

Right away I could tell that this one was a variation on the tale of Icarus. It is more sea based than the original (or at least it felt that way to me) but in a way it also made it feel so much more…human. So I’m happy with every change that was made here.
I think this tale might actually continue after the tale of Icarus…but I don’t want to say that for sure. In this case I feel like knowing that as a fact may change the story. At least for me I think it would have.

Slipping Sideways Through Eternity
This is another sad tale, but again it’s because it’s so heavily rooted in the real world. It’s another tale by Jane Yolen where the main character is a little Jewish girl. Here she also travels through time, but for a different reason. It’s a retelling of Elijah, though I’m not an expert in that tale either. Still, it is breathtaking and heart wrenching and absolutely worth reading.

The Foxwife
This story is focused on the legend of kitsune, and it’s one of the lores that I personally can’t get enough of. Apparently this short story had originally been printed in Year’s Best Fantasy (from 1984), something I didn’t know before (I really should start reading those yearly collections!).
I love the take of the kitsune here. Even though she isn’t the main perspective, you can almost feel her emotions and see what she’s thinking. It was beautifully written, all the more so by having an unknowing human be the main perspective.

The Faery Flag
The Faery Flag is based on a real item – it’s a flag hanging up on Dunvegan Castle on the Isle of Skye (Soctland). It isn’t much to base a tale off of, but it’s no surprise that Jane Yolen succeeded in doing just that. It’s a tale of bargaining, faery deals, lore and rules, and oddly enough, of love. This is one that is better off read than described.

One Old Man, with Seals
According to Jane Yolen, One Old Man, with Seals is based off of Proteus, the Greek shapeshifter. It’s the tale of getting older, accepting the time one has left, and enjoying it. But it feels so much richer than the way I described it. It’s beautifully written, with a slightly eerie and ethereal tone to it.

Sleeping Ugly
Just by the title you can clearly tell that this is a retelling of Sleeping Beauty. Ever since I learned the much more disturbing original tale of this one I’ve had trouble enjoying it, so it was nice to see a new perspective take the reins.
Here the princess is quite beautiful on the outside, but very ugly on the inside. Then there’s the young maiden in the woods, who is the exact opposite. Now I’ll ask you, which one of those two would you say deserves the happily ever after of her dreams?

The Undine
This one is mostly based off the original Hals Christian Andersen’s Little Mermaid, but it also has some influence in other French stories about mermaids (aka the undine). I’m using the terms mermaid and undine interchangeably here, which some people may argue with. However I believe that they have the same intent and connotation, especially in this story, so it’s okay.
It certainly has the more somber and despondent tones of the original tale; a sort of romanticized view on doomed love and the pain it can cause. However, it is from the undine’s perspective, and the prince feels like he would fit in with today’s time.

Great-Grandfather Dragon’s Tale
Great-Grandfather Dragon’s Tale is told as two stories in one. One is past tense, it’s the story the Great-Grandfather Dragon is telling, and the other is of the reaction to the little ones he’s telling it to. It’s an interesting tale, and oddly relaxing to read.
The tale itself is based off of St. George’s Dragon, and was inspired when Jane Yolen was compiling her dragon stories into a collection titled Here There Be Dragons.

Green Plague
Green Plague is a more modernized retelling of The Pied Piper of Hamelin. It’s satirical and doesn’t really look all that kindly on the townspeople, though I suppose that isn’t terribly new, is it? Here the people of Hamelin prosper from their past and the lore that they carry, only to let themselves fall into the very same mistakes all over again.

The Unicorn and the Pool
The Unicorn and the Pool blends an older unicorn and Jesus into the same character. The wise unicorn is willing to sacrifice himself to save others, even though it’s one amongst them that caused the problem to begin with.
It’s a short tale, and it is utterly heartbreaking as well. You can tell right away where the tale will lead, and there’s nothing you can do to stop it.

The Golden Balls
The Golden Balls is a retelling of The Princess and the Frog. I never read the original tale (well, either of the originals, as it turns out) so I can’t speak directly to the changes made. I will say that this one unsettled me the most. There’s implied rape, which to be fair not only fits in with the time (it could be an allegory to the arranged marriages many princesses faced) but also the brother’s cruelty for allowing (encouraging more like) it to happen.

Sister Death
Sister Death is a blend of Lilith and the Angel of Death. This is one of those stories that starts out interesting, even as you know it’s bound to break your heart. And it certainly does. Based heavily in Jewish lore, the Sister Death has to carry away countless dead children – especially during the time of the Holocaust. It’ll break your heart, I promise you that. But it is still worth reading. Sometimes the hardest tales to read are the ones that we must read.

Sule Skerry
Sule Skerry is a tale of selchies. If you’ve read any selchie lore, then you’ll know that they’re fairly famous (infamous) for finding and impregnating young maidens. Apparently they can even do so when they’re at deaths doors. Truth be told, I’m not surprised by that revelation. What made this tale fractured was the time Jane Yolen chose to base it in, and how it all played out.

Once a Good Man
Once a Good Man is based off of Jewish and Chinese tales. Here the main character, and older and quite wonderful man, has asked to see both heaven and hell so that he may be happy knowing it. The differences between two are surprisingly slight, but incredibly important to make note of.

Allerleirauh is another retelling of Cinderella. I think that makes two (so far) in this collection. However, it is very very different from others, even the first one included here. I’ll be honest with you here – I didn’t realize it was a Cinderella variant when I was reading it. I can see it now though. It’s based off of one of the three original versions of the tale (all very dark, of course). This one is fairly disturbing, and incestuous (as was the original it’s based off), so consider yourself warned.

The Gwynhfar
This one is a retelling of Arthurian legend, while also very much being commentary on the practice to marry off (aka sell off) princesses to dukes and other esteemed men. There’s no doubt left on how Jane Yolen feels of the practice, not after you’ve read this tale.

Cinder Elephant
Cinder Elephant is the third Cinderella retelling in this collection. It’s also the last Cinderella retelling included, in case you were curious. With this tale we have all three of the original versions in one fractured form or another. This was probably my second favorite of the three, and there are many reasons for that. It feels like the happy medium you’d expect between the original and the Disney version, but of course with a twist or two. The only thing that wasn’t changed was how dull the prince was (who needs a shoe to identify the woman he supposedly loves?).

Mama Gone
This one is a vampire story. It’s very straightforward, but the emotions and turmoil in it will keep you reading until the very end. You never really see a tale quite like this one. The vampire is not a wealthy count, nor do they really appear to be capable of rational thought. It’s brilliantly written, and that’s coming from a vampire snob.

The Woman Who Loved a Bear
According to Jane Yolen, The Woman Who Loved a Bear is based on Native American lore. I love that Jane Yolen pointed out that she isn’t Native American, and that she hopes she did justice to the original tale. It’s not every day you see somebody that sensitive to the original material. It’s easy to read the title and assume that the bear is an actual bear, as opposed to a person (and member of a specific tribe). This one was really well written, though I really can’t comment on the original lore and the differences between the two.

Wrestling with Angels
This one is a modern retelling of Jacob and the time he wrested an angel. I honestly never would have expected to see this tale based in New York, and yet here we are! It adds an interesting perspective to the well known tale.

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If I didn't already love Queen Yolen, I do now. She is AMAZING - Come on, her output is just ridiculous and so unique! And then she brings out this, and you just think, how could I not love her work??? She has so much to give to the world and these stories are like her personality shining through, and I think that is what makes them better. Great writing, great plot weaving, and a cool cover - Read it!

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An awesome collection by Yolen! It never ceases to amaze me how well she can tell tales and weave great stories.

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You think you know fairytales but you've never seen them like this. This is a brilliant collection of stories each with their own voice. At first this bothered me but as I continued through each story I was blown away with the Author's talent to bring me a fresh new voice. The tales took me by surprise and shed a new light on the tales I've read a thousand times before.

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How to Fracture a Fairy Tale is a collection of short stories that are retellings of various fairy tales. They are all unique. Some reference real life events while others create completely new scenarios for famous characters. Yolen's writing is so lovely and transports you into each story, no matter how short it is. Some of these stories made me laugh out loud, and some pulled at my heart strings. I am very happy with this collection of stories and plan to revisit it often.

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Jane Yolen is a master storyteller and her new book, How to Fracture a Fairy Tale, really shines. This is a collection of fairy tales and legends both well known and obscure. Some stories are merely retold in slight variations while others have been totally re-imagined with a modern twist. The author adds notes and poems with each story to really make this a must-have for bookshelves.

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I absolutely adored this. Sure, I didn't like all the tales equally but nevertheless the variety of tales was impressive. Every single one has its own distinct voice and they are all pretty well written. Some are warm and charming, some are dark and frightening but all have this fairy tale vibe I love so much (I'm an absolute sucker for fairy tales of all kinds).

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I really enjoyed this book. It takes a special kind of book to keep me engrossed throughout a 7 hour car ride and How to Fracture a Fairy Tale does exactly that. Jane Yolen takes traditional fairy tales and folklore and spins a delightful story of strength and pure awesomeness.

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Jane Yolen is lovely, and her writing and fairy tales are as well. This compilation of fractured and retold fairy tales will be a wonderful addition to any YA section. Fairy tales are so in right now!

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I LOVED this fairy tale collection. Some of them I knew straight away what tale they were twisting, and others took me a while. The ones that took me a while were the ones I didn't totally get into, but they were still super fun! I'm a huge fan of the traditional fairy tales, and I think these were done in a creative, refreshing, modern (some of them), entertaining way!

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I absolutely love collections of short stories and getting a fresh story every 20 or so pages to change it up. This one was okay. They were definitely unique but some fell flat for me. Please check out her other book, Emerald Circus, though. You will not be disappointed.

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Another charming collection of fairy tales from the inimitable Jane Yolen. I enjoyed her inventive takes on timeless tales, especially her reimagining of the origin of Guinevere, which is pretty gruesome. I especially delighted in the poems included in this collection, which complement the stories and create added dimension to their tellings. Highly recommended for anyone who enjoys fantasy and fairy tales written by a master storyteller.

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Loved it, fairy tales for the modern woman. Those tales you thought you knew didn’t happen the way you thought. These tales were inspired and brilliant. I loved the feminist twists. A great read

Thanks to netgalley and the publisher for a free copy for an honest opinion

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This was such a fun, fresh take on classic fairy tales! I loved the clever twists and turns and the unique character voices. What a fantastic, wild ride!

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A wonderful collection that had me turning the pages long after I should have been asleep! I was enchanted from page one! This will definitely be on the reread worthy shelf!

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Jane Yolen is a classic children's author with a flair for "fractures", what she considers retelling. This is a book of short stories or fables, some modernized and some re-worked into retellings from another character's perspective. While not all are amazing, the compilation on a whole is well worth the time, as well as the introduction and Yolen's own descriptions of how to "fracture" a tale.

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Jane Yolen is just brilliant! I love her stories, so well written! I thought this would be a "how to write" book and was was happy to discover more stories! Her stories are going to be remembered and passed down along side Grimms, Anderson, and others who collected great stories or wrote them. Another wonderful browsing book and I love the notes about the tales at the end of the book; very useful.

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I truly enjoyed the authors takes on many of my beloved fairytales- she is able to create such a wonderful flow and put her own flair on each story! One not to miss!

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This book was received as an ARC from Tachyon Publications in exchange for an honest review. Opinions and thoughts expressed in this review are completely my own.

I absolutely love fairy tales and loved renditions of books that put a modern twist to a famous tale such as The Three Little Pigs, Rumplestilskin and many other just as Jane Yolen did. When hearing about the book and from reading the title I automatically thought of Rocky and Bullwinkle and their fracture fairytales segments throughout the show. These stories no matter how twisted they are always make me happy and I love to see how close they stick to the original story or completely deviate from the original storyline and Yolen did a wonderful job sticking with the original story with a twist.

We will consider adding this title to our YFiction collection at our library. That is why we give this book 5 stars.

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Jane Yolen's "How to Fracture a Fairy Tale" is an enjoyable read. I love how she has retold and reimagined some of the most well known fairy tales and given them a fresh life. It is interesting to consider a fairy tale from another characters prospective, and see through another lens. I read these to my daughter as well, and she likes many of them as told by Jane versus the original version that she knew. I look forward to reading more by Jane Yolen.

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This is an amazing book for lovers of Young Adult fantasy, specifically for fairy tale writers and Fantasy authors. It was a real treat to read this and to share it with my friends in my writing community.

I regret that I was unable to schedule this book into my blog's schedule, but will still whole heatedly recommend it to others. Thank you for sharing it with me!

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Amazing. Written by an obviously well-schooled author. Yolen takes these old stories and breathes much needed new life in them. And avoids the cliche "re-telling" trumps like the plague.

Each story has it's own unique flavour and bleeds personality.

Loved it. You will too.

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Do you love fairy tales? Do you love remixed tales? This collection of Yolen's short form work is a masterpiece. These aren't simply alternative endings slapped onto well-known stories. These aren't simply told from a different perspective. Each and every story is a masterpiece. The stories she fractures come not only as twists to familiar traditional fairy tales of the western European cannon, but also Greek myth, Asian stories, and Jewish folktales. Yolen also includes how she came to write each story along with a short poem. This is a must-read for those who love retold tales.

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Thank you to Jane Yolen for pulling back the curtain and showing us how it is done. This is a must read for those who love reading, who are ready for fairy tales that might not be made into Disney movies, and for anyone who might be interested in writing one of their own!

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I absolutely loved this book. You can learn a lot about fantasy writing and writing in general in a most entertaining way from a fantastic writer while also learning about various fairy tales from different cultures and ages. The stories differ from each other a lot which I actually enjoyed a lot. I think The Emerald Circus you will enjoy this one as well, certainly give it a go!

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Fairy tale/fantasy expert Jane Yolen has done it again in her tome of fractured fairy tales, which not only anthologizes short stories and poems from throughout her career, but also introduces over a dozen original works. The stories are told in a variety of tones (from the slapstick parody in "Sleeping Ugly" to the horrific, haunting psychological piece "Allerleirauh"), yet all possess the same strong literary depth and construction that make this work worthy of study in university classrooms. A good fit for fairy-tale lovers and haters alike, and has strong appeal for fans of magical realism, like the works of Steven Milhauser. Includes an appendix with background on the creation process of each story.

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Great collection of fast paced easy reads! Thank you netgalley for the free arc in exchange for an honest review!

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Jane Yolen is an amazing author, and everything she has done with these fairy tales (some familiar, some not) is wonderful. I want to look for the originals of the tales that I wasn't familiar with, just to know where these stories diverge. I highly recommend!

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