cover image Into the Forest

Into the Forest

Edited by Lindy Ryan. Blackspot, $15.95 trade paper (268p) ISBN 978-1-64548-123-2

Ryan (Throw Me to the Wolves, written with Christopher Brooks) brings together 23 dark, feminist fairy tales exploring the folkloric figure of Baba Yaga. The eerily cheerful tone of Gwendolyn Kiste’s Stepford Wives–esque “Last Tour into the Hungering Moonlight” spirals into something more desperate and erratic as the housewives of an apparently perfect neighborhood succumb to Baba Yaga’s pull. An unloved princess finds revenge and salvation through Baba Yaga in “Of Moonlight and Moss” by Sara Tantlinger, while the heroine of R.J. Joseph’s “Where the Horizon Meets the Sky” joins the witch to escape her husband’s ghost. In EV Knight’s timely standout “Stork Bites,” a young woman in need of an illegal abortion seeks out Baba Yaga. Many of these stories take place in the ambiguous, “long ago” era of fairy tales, but some—like Donna Lynch’s “Flood Zone” and Jacqueline West’s “Fair Trade”—transpose the legend into the present day. The least successful of these is “Baba Yaga Learns to Shave, Gets Her Period, Then Grows into Her Own” by Jess Hagemann, which lacks the eerie atmosphere that makes the other stories work. “Water Like Broken Glass” by Carina Bissett, meanwhile, delivers a wonderfully queer update to the tale against the backdrop of WWII. Fans of folklore retellings will find plenty to enjoy. (Nov.)