- Grim by Christine Johnson, ed.
The title and back matter suggest that this collection of eighteen original stories inspired by familiar fairy tales (and authored by well-known writers such as Jackson Pearce and Sarah Rees Brennan) will play up the darker and more sinister elements of the tales. Instead, only a few entries linger over the more gruesome fairy-tale elements, and the vast majority are romances with fairy-tale endings: evil is definitively dispatched, and boys and girls, mostly coupled, live happily ever after. Bluebeard and Beast, for instance, take new identities as contemporary bad boys, and Puss in Boots is a stuffed but sentient cat who tries to help an aspiring rock star realize his dreams. The twelve dancing princesses are escapees from a posh boarding school, where their nocturnal romps exact a stiff price. The three pigs are bad actors who [End Page 361] deserve the fates they suffer at the hands, or more precisely, the teeth of a female shape-shifter. However, the tale of a girl who falls in love with an artificial life form and has to set her entire space colony adrift in order to save him is less familiar (Pinocchio? Pygmalion?), as is the tale of a group of boys who seduce girls in order to eat them in vampiric fashion, and there are no notes to provide clues. The complete lack of peritextual materials is odd in a collection of this sort and the romances are ultimately fairly bland, but readers who like their supernatural romances in small bites may enjoy the collection nevertheless.