The Witch and Other Tales Re-Told


The Witch and Other Tales Re-Told

Great fairy tales are not always stories designed for children. The lurking wolf in “Little Red Riding Hood,” the gingerbread house that lures Hansel and Gretel, the beauty asleep in her castle—these fables represent some of our deepest, most primeval fears and satisfy our longing for good to win out over evil (preferably in the most gruesome way possible). In this captivating new collection, critically acclaimed author Jean Thompson takes the classic fairy tale and brings it into the modern age with stories that capture the magic and horror in everyday life.

The downtrodden prevail, appearances deceive, and humility and virtue triumph in The Witch, as lost children try to find their way home, adults cursed by past unspeakable acts are fated to experience their own horror in the present, and true love—or is it enchantment?—conquers all. The Witch and Other Tales Re-Told is a haunting and deeply entertaining collection, showcasing the inimitable Thompson at the height of her storytelling prowess.

“Fairy tales are like literary Velcro strips, nabbing us early and holding us tight; no matter how old or sophisticated we get, we stay emotionally connected to those simple tales of lost children, snoozing princesses and nasty witches. Except that maybe they’re not so simple, after all. In this collection of eight updated fairy tales, Jean Thompson demonstrates once again that she’s a modern-day Katherine Mansfield, capturing the culture with trenchant wit. These stories are entertaining, but also creepy; just when you think you know where Thompson is going — you look around and nothing is familiar anymore. Thompson is a wizard of the short story, and these tales are magical — and diabolical.”
— Julia Keller, NPR, Guide to 2014’s Great Reads

“Thompson converts figurative fairy and folk tales into realistic fact in her shrewd, often funny collection.”
— Editor’s Choice, New York Times Book Review (11/02/14)

“At their best, Thompson’s stories invoke the dark homeliness of Shirley Jackson’s short fiction, with its ruefully sardonic characters whose meek exteriors conceal a stark assessment of the world’s shortcomings and hypocrisies.”
— Laura Miller, New York Times Book Review

“Familiar fairy tales get a modern twist in this witty and sharp-toothed collection. Hansel and Gretel become a pair of orphans sent to a cruel foster mother; Cinderella’s prince lives in a ratty group house with his bros; Little Red Riding Hood has a surprise for the boy with the wolfish smile.”
— Dan Kois, Slate (Dan Kois’s 15 Favorite Books of 2014)

“There’s a lot to love about Thompson’s latest: the pitch-perfect voice of her narrators, whether child, teen or adult; the hard cruelty of everyday life so central to fairy tales. But maybe most interesting is her ability to complicate the black-and-white morality of the source material.”
— Micah Dean Hicks, Chicago Tribune

“A series of exuberantly imaginative riffs on traditional folk and fairy tales from ‘Bluebeard’ to ‘The Pied Piper’ to ‘Cinderella.’ Thompson’s wry, uncompromising tales are largely set in today’s ordinary world — an urban penthouse, a seedy foster home, a boozy party, a threadbare thrift shop — yet they offer all the chills and suspense embedded in those ancient pinnacles, gorges and deep, dark woods. Her cast includes crooks, bored teens, pedophiles, neglectful as well as overbearing parents, a pusillanimous priest and a regal dog.”
— San Francisco Chronicle

“[Thompson] has a clear, strong sense of how all sorts of people work, sometimes a mystery even to themselves, and her smart, spare style, conveying these inner workings in an almost matter-of-fact way, is a sly modern counterpart of the age-old storyteller’s voice, simply reporting the way things are, however strange.”
— Ellen Akins, Minneapolis Star Tribune

“In this spooky, enthralling, and morally complex collection, National Book Award finalist Thompson…shows evil, wonder, and majesty…Thompson skillfully infuses our banal world of technology, reality TV, and pop psychology with genuine horror….as eerie as anything you’ll find in the Brothers Grimm.”
— Publishers Weekly

“[S]hrewdly unnerving and bewitching improvisations on fairy tales… clever, caring, funny, and wrenching… Thompson’s wizardly command is spellbinding, and her keen and unexpected revelations are, by turn and twist, grim and ebullient.”
— Booklist, Starred Review

“Arresting…Thompson transforms old tales, rendering them at once familiar and surprising. [She] has burrowed deeply to find the foundational elements of these tales and built resonant new stories upon them.”
— Rob Cline, The Gazette (Cedar Rapids, Iowa)