The Girl with No Hands and Other Tales (2010)
Written by: Angela Slatter
Genre: Fairy Tales/Short Stories
Pages: 210 (Trade Paperback)
The premise: ganked from BN.com: In this collection of 16 previously published and new stories, Slatter presents twisted, fractured, illuminating fairy tales and dark fantasies that beguile in their elegant simplicity. Many of the stories are reiterations of classic fairy tales from all over the world. But by retelling the tales in a more intimate manner, Slatter illuminates the symbiotic relationship between pleasure and pain. The sexually candid "Bluebeard" is an empowering tale of a whore and her daughter who best a monster. The wholly original "The Living Book" personifies the intimate act of reading, while "Skin" reworks the Gaelic legend of the selkie into a tale of revenge and redemption from the seal woman's perspective. An afterword elucidates the source material and intent behind each tale. Dark and sinister, these shorts place strong, empathetic female protagonists into harrowing, horrifying, or humble circumstances and see them triumph.
Must Have: While it's a rather expensive collection given its rather slim size, it's a collection well worth having. The expense comes from the fact The Girl with No Hands is published by a small press, one in Australia, no less. Still, this is easy to find online: Amazon, the Book Depository, and Barnes & Noble (I didn't look elsewhere). No electronic editions to date, but please, don't let any of this scare you out of trying to get your hands on this book. It's a beautiful short story collection that--once you start reading--you'll find yourself inhaling. Like other readers, I felt like I should maybe take a break between tales to really absorb their impact, but I had no patience to do so. However, that's fine since I plan to re-read each and every story in this collection at some point, and that's because Slatter's reworked fairy and folk tales linger with you long after you finish: they're dark in some respects, but they also present women as the heroes of their own tales instead of the fairy tale standard of purely innocent or purely evil. Here, women are both the victors and victims of their stories, but all of them have a hand in their ultimate fate. It's a wonderful collection, and I'm quite grateful I got my hands on it.
Review style: I'm never consistent when it comes to reviewing short story collections or anthologies. Sometimes, I review story-by-story, and others, I just highlight the stories that were my favorite or discuss the ones that need to be discussed. In this case, I think I'm going to follow the format I used the last time I reviewed an anthology and discussion the collection in general before giving one line reviews to each story. No spoilers, because I think spoiling short stories is a cruel thing to do. The full review is in my LJ, which is linked below. As always, comments and discussion are most welcome. :)
REVIEW: Angela Slatter's THE GIRL WITH NO HANDS AND OTHER TALES
Book club selections @ calico_reaction. Hop on over! We'd love to have you!
December: Under Heaven by Guy Gavriel Kay
January: The Curse of Chalion by Lois McMaster Bujold