Fantasy Twists takes fairy tale and supernatural tropes and flips them on their head. Each story delights by using elements you may remember from your childhood and crafting a more mature version of the stories that brings these characters into a more modern dialogue. This anthology from Cuil Press is a diverse assemblage of characters and creations that is the perfect read for fans of fairy tales.
The book contains seven stories by a variety of authors, each of whom have provided fun descriptions of themselves, which adds an even more creative element to Fantasy Twists. Within the seven stories a number of topics are presented included transgender identity, polyamory, same sex relationships, and identities outside of the gender binary. I enjoyed every one of the stories, but I want to focus on three of my favorites in more detail. “Welcome to Connection” is the first story in Fantasy Twists and focuses on a young freelance writer who is coming to the end of her contract. During her hunt for any job that can provide her with a solid paycheck she stumbles across a surprising tea shop. While she is there she is confronted with magic and the idea of multiple universes all being connected. Once of my favorite moments in the story though was a casual discussion of pronouns in which one of the characters shared that they identify as either she/her or they/them. I wish I could find a job at a magical tea shop like the one in this story.
“One Hell of an STI” is a humorous as well as touching story that begins by introducing us to a woman who works nights. As she is getting ready for her evening of analytical work she reveals that she does not like looking at herself in the mirror, but loves her body. As the story evolves we learn that she recently had sex with her partner and while the two had a wonderful evening together the other woman is texting to apologize for something. The two decide to meet and in those moments we learn that our lead character identifies as trans and had previously shared this with her partner, but her partner kept a very important secret from her that will change her life forever.
The final story I want to focus on is “Cold-Hearted,” which started with a shocking premise. Hermione, or Her, reveals that ever since she was eleven she has wanted to kill the old woman that lives next door. After waiting a number of years she has finally decided to follow through and get her revenge. The story has some amazing twists and turns including not one, but two possible murders, a polar bear fur coat, and a magic mirror. What I also loved about this story was that Her shares that she is partially disabled. During the story a number of references are made to her artificial legs, one of which is being used to help in her murder plan. I really did love all of the stories in the book and while I did not discuss the other four in detail I will mention “Char” presents an interesting twist on a superhero narrative, “Grandmother and the Wolf” showed a touching adaptation of the Red Riding Hood story, “Witches’ Child” showed a marriage between two witches for the sake of a child, which was exceptionally interesting, and “All That Glitters” is an epically constructed character meet up that spans genres and fairy tales. If you are looking for creatively written stories inspired by some of your favorite tales as well as diverse characters you should check out Fantasy Twists from Cuil Press.
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