The Beastly Bride: Tales of the Animal People

The Beastly Bride: Tales of the Animal People

Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling have done it again! I am reading their amazing compilation of shapeshifter stories called The Beastly Bride: Tales of the Animal People, and it may just be the best collection of fairy tales edited by the duo yet. Like many other collections by the two, this set contains re-tellings of many fairy tales that we know and love as well as more obscure ones we may not be familiar with. A common theme is taking a feminist spin on the tales, such as turning a helpless female victim from mythology or fairy tales into her own heroine. Plenty of male heroes are also included, of course.

The common theme in The Beastly Bride is that of the shapeshifter, perhaps one of the most intriguing fairy tale creatures of all time. The creatures in the book range from those who exist as beasts or hybrids of beasts and people, like gods; those who have been turned into beasts, such as those who are cursed; and those who may shift from human form to beastly form at will, such as werewolves or big cats or other creatures.

Many of us are familiar with some of the myths—such as one involving the Greek goddess Artemis and the boy who laid eyes upon her—or the stories—like Beauty and the Beast—that are adapted in the story, but less familiar faces, such as the god Ganesha from Hindu lore, and generic shapeshifters (rats, a puma, and many others) are also included. Some have a more modern feel, while others take place during the past; an old west story about retribution and love in particular won my heart, even though I’m not one for Westerns at all.

These stories are so enjoyable that it has been difficult for me to put them down; I keep sneaking off to the bathroom to “do my business,” when I’m really reading another short story! Part of me wishes I were savoring these stories rather than just speeding through them, but I am loving the ride so much, and so anxious to read them all. Plus, I’m a working mom who homeschools; I don’t have a whole lot of time to savor my reading!

Which Datlow and Windling collection is your favorite? I’d love to hear about them—especially the more modern ones that my library doesn’t carry as of yet. Still, we do have interlibrary loans…!