Short-listed for the James Tiptree, Jr. Award
Today, many think of fairy tales as simplistic stories intended for very young children -- but a look at the oldest versions of the tales quickly disabuses us of this notion. The older stories looked unflinchingly at the darkest parts of life: poverty and power, domestic violence, the effects of remarriage on family dynamics, incest, rape, the loss of inheritance or identity, and the survival of calamity.
The trials that fairy tale heroes must face illustrate the process of transformation: from youth to adulthood, from victim to hero, from a maimed state into wholeness, from passivity to action. As the writers in this collection demonstrate, this gives fairy tales a particular power -- not as a quaint escape from the harsh realities of modern life, but in their symbolic portrayal of all the dark and bright life has to offer.
"As the editor’s own memoir-cum-afterword makes clear, she has herself survived a perilous journey, ultimately establishing herself as an artist, editor, and anthologist in an environment so far removed from her childhood experience that she might as well have emigrated from another planet. The Armless Maiden is an exploration, an extremely ambitious use of the fantastic for the most serious of literary purposes, to illuminate the human heart." - The Philadelphia Inquirer
"A marvelous collection...It will move your heart as it changes your mind." - Andrew Vachss
"These fairy tales, ‘new tales spun from the threads of the old,’ plumb the dangers, the pain, the way back to life." - Feminist Bookstore News
Contributors: Lynda Barry, Emma Bull, Kara Dalkey, Charles de Lint, Nancy Etchemendy, Jane Gardham, Steven Gould, Annita Harlan, Sonia Keizs, Tappan Wright King, Ellen Kushner,Patricia A. McKillip, Lisel Mueller, Susan Palwick, Joanna Russ, Anne Sexton, Silvana Siddali, Delia Sherman, Will Shetterly, Munro Sickafoose, Midori Snyder, Ellen Steiber, Caroline Stevermer, Peter Straub, Guy Summertree Veryzer, and Jane Yolen
For a taste of the book, read Midori Snyder's "The Armless Maiden and the Hero's Journey,"
an essay expanded from the Afterword to her Armless Maiden re-telling in this collection.
See also: "Brother & Sister: A Matter of Seeing" by Ellen Steiber, a reflection on her story for the volume.
For further reading on the subject on fairy tales & fantasy in relation to children in crisis,
see the recommended books at the end of my essay "Transformations: A Fairy Tale Memoir."
Publisher: Tor Books
The drawing above is by Helen Stratton (1867-1961)