Book Review: Black Swan, White Raven by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling

Black Swan, White Raven

by Ellen Datlow (Editor) and Terri Windling (Editor)

Genre: Adult Fairytale Retellings, Short Stories, Anthology

Published in 1997

3.7 Stars

Are you a fan of fairytales? Do you like retellings as much as the originals and even more? Since my answer is yes to both questions, I picked up this book. It was a random choice. The title and cover got my attention when I added the book to my library a couple of months ago.

Black Swan, White Raven is a short story anthology with adult retellings of fairytales from across the globe. There are a couple of poems too. The book has 21 pieces, some short, some long, some quirky, some weird, and some bland.

It’s expected that any anthology will have hits and misses. After all, readers are different, and so are their tastes. The collection should cater to various readers and this book does manage to do so (to a good extent).

I wasn’t impressed by a few stories, and there were a couple that made no sense. Probably because I didn’t know the original. But I feel a good story should stand out on its own, even if it’s a retelling.

So for people like me who want to read 2-3 stories a day or in between other works, Black Swan, White Raven might be a good option. I’d say go in with minimum expectations.

The following are some stories I liked for their twist, creativity, narration, or execution.

"No Bigger than my Thumb: by Esther M. Friesner is fast-paced, blunt, and deceiving. The narration hooked me, and the ending didn’t disappoint. The ending isn’t elaborate but does its job rather well.

"In the Insomniac Night" by Joyce Carol Oates is twisted and confusing. The writer keeps us intrigued by moving back and forth and by increasing the sense of urgency in the narration. Ultimately, it leaves the reader hanging. Not the kind of endings I like, but somehow this one stayed with me.