Page Count 384
Publication date March 2020/ Publisher Titan Books
Here in this book you’ll find unique twists on the fairy tale conceit of the curse, from the more traditional to the modern – giving us brand new mythologies as well as new approaches to well-loved fables. Some might shock you, some might make you laugh, but they will all impress you with their originality.
by Marie O’Regan, Paul Kane, Angela Slatter, Neil Gaiman, Alison Littlewood, James Brogden, Tim Lebbon, Charlie Jane Anders, Christina Henry, Christopher Golden, Catriona Ward, Lilith Saintcrow, Margo Lanagan, Maura McHugh, Jen Williams, Jane Yolen, Christopher Fowler, M R Carey, Karen Joy Fowler, Adam Stemple, Michael Marshall Smith.
Let’s start with that gorgeous cover! Those who follow will know I rarely take photographs of books, I always mean to and never find time, but Cursed had me inspired as soon as I received it from Titan. This particular cover style resembles Christina Henry’s canon which is likely why it immediately caught my eye.
As I’ve discussed before HERE, I don’t often have luck with anthologies. Perhaps now the tides are finally changing. After enjoying Hark the Christmas horror anthology and more recently Midnight In the Graveyard, I’ve come to realise I just have to choose anthologies with at least a few familiar names.
Along came Cursed to test my theory. From a favourite publisher Titan Books, and with contributions from several of my auto-buy authors; Christina Henry, Tim Lebbon, James Brogden, M R Carey and Neil Gaiman. A dream line up!
I’m going to give a little hint and overall reaction to just some of the twenty short stories in this collection…
*We begin with Christina, I almost flipped ahead and saved this one for last as I so adore her re-tellings. Alas, patience is not my strong suit so I dove straight in. A fantastic opening story with a completely unique twist on Snow White and a not so charming Prince.
*The beauty of Troll Bridge by Gaiman lies in the passing of time as described through changes in the land and the candid views of the main character ageing from boy to man.
*At That Age was my second read of Catriona Ward (Little Eve is engrossing and I highly recommend) I’ll definitely be picking up more of her work. An eerie curse centres around twin children and grief.
*Jen Williams was new to me, Listen is a brilliant tale of revenge and consequence. I didn’t know whether to sympathise with all of the characters or none of them!
*Skin was absolute insanity and I loved it beginning to end! James Brogden has such a wonderfully creative imagination, this story reminds us that some beauty is only skin deep.
*I have no idea what The Black Fairy’s Curse was all about. If anybody else read this and had a better understanding please leave me a comment!
*I think Wendy, Darling may have been my favourite of the anthology. Christopher Golden revisits Wendy on the day of her wedding to unravel an entirely different, extremely dark version of Peter and the Lost Boys.
*Michael Marshall Smith gives a fantastic opening to Look Inside and it’s all you’ll need to see to know you want to read it;
“I’m going to tell a little fib to start off with. Don’t worry- I’ll let you know what it was, later on.”
The last line is a belter too. Loved it!
Of the twenty different curses I adored almost all. There were two I didn’t fully understand and truth be told I skipped over one as the writing didn’t suit my tastes. All are dark but none too scary or squeamish for those who avoid horror. There are some fantastic interpretations of well known fairy tales as well as new and unique ideas. I found some authors to keep an eye on in future and thoroughly enjoyed contributions from my favourites.
Shout out to editors Marie O’Reagan and Paul Kane on an incredible collection. A must have for any fantasy fan.