Monday, August 8, 2011

Fiction Rave: Michaela Roessner and Fresh Legs for Fairy Tales

One of the women in my writing group has been writing new takes on fairy tales and she was fretting that there weren't markets for her stories. However, when she said that, I realized that I've read many fairytale reboots recently, including two separate takes on Hansel and Gretel. My favorite was Michaela Roessner's Crumb, published in the November/December 2010 issue of Fantasy and Science Fiction.

One of the things I dislike in fairytale reboots is a lack of place. They feel distant, relying on clich├ęs like a witch's cabin in the woods that pull on one's memories of the fairytale when I was young, but lack the power of freshly imagined worlds. As if borrowing from the fairytale means they can emphasize character or plot and skip on world building in the name of efficiency. I'm sure some readers appreciate this. I'm not one of them.

Michaela Roessner succeeds because of the rich way she reimagines Hansel and Gretel and sets this as an urban fantasy. In some ways, there is a meta-theme running through her story speaking to the myths that push and prod us into preordained roles and that provides a nice frosting for her crumbs. Her story isn't available online, but if you have the chance, this is one fairytale with fresh legs.


  1. Thanks for the rec. I clicked on her name, and now am salivating to read her books, "The Stars Dispose" and its sequel, "The Stars Compel." Very exciting to find someone new (and female) that I have never heard of. Seems almost like she's got a cultish following. Lovely.

  2. @Rebecca, Your welcome. I'll be curious how you find the novels.

  3. Aidan, have you ever read any of the Terry Windling and Ellen Datlow fairy-tale-reboot anthologies? Snow White, Blood Red and Ruby Slippers, Golden Tears come to mind. Like most anthologies, they're something of a mixed bag but generally high quality.

  4. I quite enjoyed Crumbs when I read it as well. I think your friend is mistaken: there is a thriving market for Fairy-tale-themed fantasy fiction.

  5. @Loren, thanks for those pointers, I hadn't heard of them.

    @Stephen, I agree.