The Girl With No Hands And Other Tales (2010)

The second short story collection by Angela Slatter mostly contains reworked fairy tales or at least stories that feature motives from fairy tales. Most authors, when trying this, go for some twist ending or for role inversion (the evil step-mother is actually good or something like this).

Slatter’s approach is not completely different, but she’s a bit more subtle and her stories don’t rely on twists as much. Instead she focuses on the female characters, who in fairy tales are often nothing more than a McGuffing for the male hero, be it as a victim to infuse tragedy or someone to save, or as a trophy to win.

Slatter shifts the focus from the males to the females: daughters, mothers and sisters, trying to survive the usual grimness that often accompanies fairy tales. Sometimes they get their revenge on those who harmed them, sometimes they get their happy ending and sometimes all they get is to chose their own end. But what they get above all is to tell their own side of the story. Slatter deftly looks into their minds and gives all of them a voice of their own, that is all so often absent.

And sometimes, she manages to surprise you with a, yes, a sort of twist, but one that doesn’t feel gimmicky, like the evil stepmother who comes to regret her act of murder or the Baba Yaga who is more than just an evil crone.