John Stracke’s Book Reviews: Fantasy


Storytellers have always retold old stories, as each generation finds new meaning in old tales. Nowadays it’s perhaps more deliberate than once it was, as cultural change is faster than once it was. To retell a myth that Everyone Knows, in a new way that sheds light equally on today’s culture and on the culture that told it originally, is a great challenge. Many of today’s best writers take up this challenge repeatedly.

Retold Myths

Retold Fairy Tales

A lot of these come from a series called The Fairy Tale Series, edited by Terri Windling at Ace back in the 1980s and early 1990s. Unfortunately, the series wasn’t very well marketed; especially for the early books, the only way to tell if a book was part of the series was to open it up and look for editor’s notes or something. (Later on, the books’ covers were given a common style, which at least made it easier to spot them on the shelf.) However, they were still successful enough to boost some of the authors to greater success, and to establish the subgenre as respectable.

Urban Fantasy

Along with retellings, which are old tales told in new ways, we have urban fantasies, which are tales set in modern cities. Some of them are retellings (e.g., Jack the Giant-Killer), while others are new (e.g., Dreams Underfoot).

Heroic Fantasy

Humorous Fantasy

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