Review: “Toad Words and Other Stories,” T. Kingfisher

Pros: Delightful fairy tale variations with a folk tale feel
Cons:
Rating: 5 out of 5

T. Kingfisher’s collection Toad Words And Other Stories very much tickled my fancy. I love the folk tale feel her stories give off. She uses both fairy tales that have been given a lot of modern attention (Snow White, Red Riding Hood, the Little Mermaid) as well as older ones that haven’t, and she brings plenty that’s new to them. The Little Mermaid, for example, is called “The Sea Witch Sets the Record Straight”:

But you have two cultures breaking against each other, it’s the young women who are going to come out the losers. Any two cultures. Pick two. The tide comes in, the tide goes out. Some things don’t change.

I think two of Kingfisher’s best talents lie in character-building and dialogue, as I’ve noted in other reviews. Her narratives in general also produce a wonderful, magical feel to them. And Kingfisher’s imagination in building out new aspects of old fairy tales never ceases to amaze me.

[The muffins] went glop, which is not an appropriate sound for muffins to make upon contacting wicker, but Turtle was pleased by this, because the last batch had gone clonk and glop was progress of a sort.

I’ll note that last quote was from “The Wolf and the Woodsman,” a fascinating version of Red Riding Hood in which the hood is neither red nor designed for riding. But it makes a fascinating look at why women often find themselves afraid of ‘nice guys’.

There’s a wide variety of tales and I loved them all. If you’ve read any Kingfisher before and enjoyed her work, you’ll love this. If you haven’t read anything of hers yet, this is probably a good place to start. It’ll give you an idea of whether you’d like her unique take on fairy tales. Some of them get a bit dark, and some of them are told from very different perspectives. There’s something to be learned and enjoyed in each one.

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