cover image Skull and Pestle

Skull and Pestle

Edited by Kate Wolford. World Weaver, $13.95 trade paper (200p) ISBN 978-1-73225-462-6

Wolford (Beyond the Glass Slipper) gathers seven original macabre yet redemptive female-centric fairy tales that reimagine Baba Yaga, the magical, forest-dwelling crone from Slavic folklore. In stories of greed, revenge, longing, and resolve, the authors address themes of female bonding, the relationships between mothers and daughters, and the value of mentors passing on knowledge to students. Jill Marie Ross’s melancholy “Baba Yaga: Her Story” follows a lonely woman who takes revenge on her father, the emotionless Koshchei the Deathless, and learns a better way from a gentle girl rejected by her stepmother. Lissa Sloan’s heart-wrenching allegory “A Tale Soon Told” comes full circle as three versions of Baba Yaga guide a dejected woman through the life stages of maiden, mother, and crone. In “The Swamp Hag’s Apprentice,” Szmeralda Shanel transports Baba Yaga folklore to America’s South, where young Queenie, with help from a doll infused with African magic, discovers her own mystical powers. In Rebecca A. Coates’s humorous “Boy Meets Witch,” a teenage boy battling the school bully requests aid from a tracksuit-wearing witch in a single-wide trailer. Readers will find this an enchanting set of takes on a legendary figure. (Jan.)