Saturday, July 8, 2023

Review: Once Upon an Ever After compiled and edited by Kaye Lynne Booth

Genre: Adult Fairy Tales/Short Story Anthology


600 or so stories were submitted for inclusion in the Gilded Glass: Twisted Myths and Shattered Fairy Tales anthology published by WordFire Press in 2022, but there was only room for 24 stories in the anthology. A lot of very good material had to be rejected. Booth creamed off the best and packaged it up into three anthologies: this one and, I think (they don’t advertise their kinship), Where Spirits Linger and Refracted Reflections. All the anthologies are short and inexpensive: ideal for reading on the commute or in bed.


Kaye Lynne Booth is a busy American indie author, poet, and facilitator of the writings of others. She has compiled a number of anthologies, mostly in the adult, modern fairy tale, fantasy, dark fantasy, SF and western genres. She has several enthusiastic writers working with her on her “Writing to be Read” blogsite. The writers featured on the blog appear regularly in the anthologies. There seems to be a thriving cottage industry involving these people, with – perhaps – opportunities for other emerging writers exploring genre fiction, mash-ups and other fringe creations.


Gathering up these eleven stories and giving them a second chance was certainly worth doing. They richly deserve it. All the authors are young and female. (Each story is followed by a brief CV of its author.)  Their youth gives the work freshness. They recast established folk tales with enquiring minds, which brings a sparkle to the new work. That they are all women is also refreshing. Most fairy stories are – like so much of our literary heritage – written by men. Sure, women and girls appear in the traditional tales but, as we all know girls, patriarchy is – historically – never generous to women: they have no agency, unless they are wicked; if they are wicked they come to a bad end. And transgender people were unacknowledged when stories like the original Cinderella were first told.

Some of the stories are laugh out loud funny. All are witty. Some have happy endings, some do not. Some are based on stories of the Greek gods. Some laud the continuity of human kindness through history. Some deal with our destruction of our planet. Cliches are given a thorough pummelling.

The authors come from the USA, Canada, South Africa, Britain, Northern Ireland and Scotland. They are gay, straight and non-binary.

There is a great deal of variety here. It could be argued that three stories about magic mirrors out of a total of eleven stories is over-plenty about mirrors – but then one realises how different each mirror story is, and realises why there was room for all three of them.

Buy now from:            Amazon US        Amazon UK

Format/Typo Issues:

A few.

Rating: **** Four Stars

Reviewed by: Judi Moore

Approximate word count: 35-40,000 words

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