Happily Ever After, a Review of “Myth & Magic: Queer Fairy Tales”
“Happily ever after” has always been a bit of a misnomer. After all, it isn’t possible that everyone can live happily ever after. And those happily ever afters were always a bit restrictive anyway, implying that only a certain type of people were allowed to have one. In Myth & Magic: Queer Fairy Tales, editors Radclyffe and Stacia Seaman have assembled a collection of well-known tales presented with a queer twist, proving that anyone – regardless of sexual orientation – deserves a happily ever after.
There are sixteen stories in Myth & Magic, each one featuring a queer main character. Some of the stories resemble what you may be accustomed to when you hear “fairy tale”, while a few involve a decidedly more modern flair. Some are instantly recognizable, while others only seem to borrow elements from the tales on which they are based. Some of the stories are erotic, while some of them maintain a charming innocence. The best thing about a collection of short stories is that you will almost always find at least one story that you like.
While the “twist” in these stories may be the queer characters, there are other twists that you may enjoy. When you hear that someone wrote a queer version of “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” (“Goldie and the Three Bears” by Sasha Payne), your first thought is probably correct. (Why, yes, we did mean those bears.) In “Riding Red” by Victoria Oldham, Red runs a BDSM club called “Grandma’s House”. Alice in Wonderland meets the modern world in “A Hero in Hot Pink Boots” by J. Leigh Bailey, and the titular character is a modern-day, human Cheshire Cat.
In addition to queer characters (and therefore, queer romances), many of these stories toss other traditional fairy-tale tropes on their heads. A kingdom where people are allowed to marry whomever they choose? A retelling of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves that doesn’t have any dwarves in it? A Red Riding Hood who hunts werewolves? A wicked stepmother who isn’t actually wicked? A gay king forced into a heterosexual marriage who doesn’t want that for his son? There are plenty of delightful surprises in store for you when you pick up Myth & Magic.
As with any anthology, there were some stories that I absolutely loved and some that I found to be rather dull. There were a couple where I found the comparisons between it and the source material forced. I didn’t care for the erotic ones, but I think that was mainly because I hadn’t been expecting it. (I was expecting the more traditional fairy tales, just with queer characters.) Overall, though, I quite enjoyed Myth & Magic.
My personal favorites from this collection were “Red” by Andi Marquette (Little Red Riding Hood), “The Ivy and the Rose” by Juliann Rich (Sleeping Beauty), “Sneewittchen” by EJ Gahagan (Snow White), and “The Snow King” by Rhidian Brenig Jones (The Snow Queen).
Myth & Magic: Queer Fairy Tales is published by Bold Strokes Books and is available now.
Author: Jamie Sugah
Jamie has a BA in English with a focus in creative writing from The Ohio State University. She self-published her first novel, The Perils of Long Hair on a Windy Day, which is available through Amazon. She is currently an archivist and lives in New York City with her demon ninja vampire cat. She covers television, books, movies, anime, and conventions in the NYC area.
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