Review: “Myth and Magic: Queer Fairy Tales”


Trigger Warning for mentions of rape.

Review: Myth and Magic offers gay and lesbian reinterpretations of a variety of well-known fairy tales. Some stories are almost identical to the original one (only that Jack becomes Jill), others tell the well-known tale with a twist. In Red Andi Marquette does it with Red Riding Hood (and adds werewolves) and it was my favourite story in the anthology. A few also focus on the bad guy. While I like that idea unfortunately I wasn’t overwhelmed by any of the stories that did this.

The main problem I had with many of the story is one I already had with several modern retellings of fairy tales: there is a certain detachedness about the original stories that the reinterpretations don’t have. In them the readers learn more about their dreams, hopes and thoughts than in the original tales, many characters only get names in the new stories. It is great to have more possibilities to connect with a character. But it’s also harder for me to accept things like several paragraphs on somebody’s incredible beauty, people swearing their undying love to each other after seeing each other only once or parents playing a prank on their son that would leave a real person severely traumatized. Not all fell in that trap, some were rewritten in a way that for example allowed the romantic relationships to develop slowly but sadly those were the minority.
Apart from that some stories came with a questionable moral. Beanstalk tells us that a cure for depression is seeing people who have it worse than you and finding your true love. (Of course it was love on first sight…)
Heartless is a fake BDSM-retelling of The Snow Queen. Fake because the while it is set in a BDSM-dungeon with the Snow Queen as domme, it is not BDSM. She abducts her victims, puts them under a spell, ties them up and rapes them. I found it impossible to read it in any other way, not even the questionable ‘dubious consent’ label would be appropriate. Kai never has a choice. She is hypnotized from the get-go and the Snow Queen ignores it when she say she was about to leave. Unfortunately among all the stories that feature fairy tales villains Heartless is the only one that gives us a redeeming arc for them. At the end of the story the Snow Queen gets heart she always wanted. A dubious reward considering it was also pointed out that all her victims ended up as empty and lifeless shells after the time with her.

Overall the majority of the stories were just dull. While the idea of queer versions of fairy tales appeals to me a lot simply turning Prince Charming into Princess Charming or adding some explicit sex-scenes isn’t enough to make me care about the story and many of the stories didn’t do much more. Those who did change the plot or focussed on non-main characters often simply didn’t work.



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