cover image Ruby Slippers, Golden Tears

Ruby Slippers, Golden Tears

. William Morrow & Company, $22 (416pp) ISBN 978-0-688-14363-3

Datlow and Windling, winners of a World Fantasy Award for their annual Year's Best Fantasy & Horror, score again with this third entry in their provocative volumes of original, updated fairy tales for adults. The collection, which gathers many impressive names from the field of dark fantasy, also contains introductory essays and extensive suggested reading lists. Highlights include Tanith Lee's ``The Beast,'' a disturbing but all too believable vision of psychopathy and art, and a rather different take on art's worth in an even more unsettling story by Garry Kilworth (``Masterpiece''). Joyce Carol Oates offers an exceptionally surrealistic version of the Sleeping Beauty myth, while Roberta Lannes contributes an exceedingly amusing variation on ``The Shoemaker and the Elves.'' The late John Brunner is represented by a masterful fable that employs Chinese myth, an evil emperor and all-powerful dragons, and Nancy Collins creates a wonderfully folksy atmosphere with her Kentucky-set yarn about fear and common sense. Though the collection skews slightly toward tales of damsels in distress imperiled by evil males (it's notable that only six of the 22 stories are by men), it triumphantly concludes with Delia Sherman's uplifting fable about redemption, nobility and friendship. Like its predecessors, Snow White, Blood Red and Black Thorn, White Rose, this anthology is a must for those who believe that ``once upon a time'' means now. (Dec.)