ONCE UPON A TIME by Lester del Rey


A Treasury of Modern Fairy Tales
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 The brief introduction to this anthology of stories styled as ``modern fairy tales'' reveals its chief weakness--the editors don't convey a good understanding of the fairy tales, and few of their authors have captured the flavor, style, or tone of their putative paradigms. The old tales gathered by the Grimms rarely featured dragons (as in Barbara Hambly's ``Changeling''), nor do the fairies of the ancient legends ever appear as simple bell- tinklers (as in Katherine Kurtz's ``A Tinkling of Fairybells''). The most successful stories here are more similar to the lays and romances of the Middle Ages than to ``Hansel and Gretel'' or ``Rumpelstiltskin''--C.J. Cherryh's ``Gwydion and the Dragon'' and Lawrence Watt-Evan's ``Portrait of a Hero,'' for example, recall Breton ballads, not Hans Christian Andersen. Only the story-within- the-story in Wayland Drew's ``The Old Soul'' manages to re-create the effects of the old fairy tales. The less successful stories here are little more than fluff. Though they don't live up to their billing, the best of these tales are good examples of a very rare breed in today's high fantasy genre--the short story. Almost all such work these days appears in three-or-more book series. Stories such as Cherryh's, Hambly's, and Anne McCaffery's (``The Quest of a Sensible Man'') prove that entertaining high fantasy can be delivered at shorter lengths.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1991
ISBN: 0-345-36263-2
Page count: 368pp
Publisher: Ballantine
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 1991