cover image Armless Maiden: And Other Tales of Childhood's Survivors

Armless Maiden: And Other Tales of Childhood's Survivors

. Tor Books, $22.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-312-85234-4

In her introduction to this powerful collection of modern-day fairy tales, Windling (editor of the Snow White, Blood Red series) lays out the familiar case that fairy tales are often representations of the psychological terrors of childhood. But she goes beyond the symbolic, invoking statistics about child abuse and molestation to make the case that the transmuting of actual trauma into narrative is demonstrably therapeutic: that fairy tales have the power to act as tools of healing and guides to survival for victims of childhood abuse. The collection consists of 26 stories, 17 poems and a scattering of nonfiction pieces, most of them original to this volume. Many of the selections are retellings of older tales, sometimes transplanted to contemporary settings. Steven Gould's ``The Session'' puts a modern spin on the Snow White story; Tanith Lee's ``She Sleeps in a Tower'' presents a darker look at Sleeping Beauty; Ellen Steiber draws on a Brothers Grimm tale, ``Brother and Sister,'' for her story ``In the Night Country.'' Other authors adapt fairy-tale motifs and structures into original tales, as Jane Yolen does in ``The Face in the Cloth,'' Munro Sickafoose in ``Knives'' and Tappan Wright King in ``Wolf's Heart.'' Though treating common themes, the selections employ a variety of tones and styles that keep the collection from being monotonal. They might have been better arranged, however, since most of the stories that focus specifically on sexual abuse appear in the book's first half and begin to lose force through repetition. (May)