Tales of Ever After is an anthology of fairy tales published by Fellowship of Fantasy. It came out this summer between the releases of my novel Lost on the Water - A Ghost Story and my novelette The Tomato Quest. It is the 3rd FoF anthology to feature a story of mine. I FINALLY had time to finish reading the other stories in this collection. It is absolutely my favorite of the anthologies so far.
Tales of Ever After features 16 stories by different fantasy authors. Each story is an original fairy tale or a new take on an existing one. For example, my story "KIng or Beggar" is a retelling of the lesser known Grimm Brothers tale "King Thrushbeard". Of the stories in the book, mine is the most faithful to the original version, but it embellishes the plot and adds details, changing a story that was only a couple pages long to one that is nearly 10,000 words. But I don't really want to talk about my story. I want to talk about why I liked the other stories so much.
I'll confess that in the other anthologies from this group that I've read (Fantastic Creatures and Mythical Doorways) there has been at least one story in each book that I just didn't care for or couldn't get into. Not every story appeals to everyone, and these books are packed with different styles of writing. It is one of the charms of reading an anthology. You discover new authors you like, and you can skip the stories that don't hold your attention. In all fairness, I've read reviews that clearly stated that my stories in those book were not favorites, and other reviews that listed them at the top of their favorites list. Everyone has unique tastes. However, in Tales of Ever After, I liked every single story without reserve. Yes, I had some favorites, but none of them bored me or made me skip ahead.
Why is this? I've put a little thought into that question. I think it has to do with the concept of the books. Each Fellowship of Fantasy anthology has a theme. Editor and accomplished author, H. L. Burke, puts out a call for stories, and authors write to the theme by a certain deadline. The submissions are judged for content (they have to be clean fiction), theme (they have to stick to it), word length, and quality to be selected. So, when the theme is 'fantasy creatures' or 'portal stories', a pretty wide range of styles appears from high fantasy to urban fantasy to science fiction. There are two more FoF anthologies I haven't read yet: Hall of Heroes and Paws, Claws, and Magic Tales. I'm sure these books also feature a wide range of writing styles.
Tales of Ever After is different from the others, because the theme is a genre. 'Fairy Tale' rather than something to include in a story like 'cats', 'heroes', 'doors', or 'creatures'. Fairy tales have familiar tropes and patterns that are what make them the kind of stories that they are. So, while the authors contributing to the book have different writing styles and flair, the structure of each story is similar. The book has a little more flow than the others. Nearly every one of them was about a character going through some kind of adventure or challenge that changed them for the better.
I took a class on fairy tale literature in college. In that class I learned that the original oral tradition of folk tales and fairy tales was to teach lessons, but these lessons were usually not positive. The old, old versions of fairy tales had dark tones to them because they were told by poor people struggling to get by in a feudal system. They had messages of 'lie, steal, cheat - do whatever you have to in order to get ahead in life.' The Grimm Brothers took a lot of those stories and moralized them. Thanks to them, fairy tales began to have happy endings. They kept the strife, though. Bad things happen before good things can, and if a princess is good, a peasant boy is brave, or a prince is humble, they will eventually find their way to success. These are the messages that roll throughout Tales of Ever After. Goodness will prevail.
I love this, for I am on a mission to spread kindness, and this book fits in with that mission.
There are several princess stories where the princesses aren't sweet and need to learn a lesson or two before they can have their dreams come true. "Princess and the Stone Picker", "The Loathly Princess of Edimor", "Beeing Seen", and "King or Beggar" are among those. There are some handsome heroes that have their work cut out for them to find their true loves, including "Quest for a Wide Awake Princess", "The Greatest Adventure", "Wake the Moon", and "A Week After Midnight". There were some that had some surprising elements to them like "The Girl Who Talked to Birds", "Believing in Fairy Tales" and "How to Hide a Prince."
My favorite of all the stories, was the most unique in the group. "At the Corner of Elm & Main " has a lamppost as its main character. This lamppost is sentient and lonely. It dreams of having a life beyond this corner, and then its wish comes true. It has one night to be free. It is a beautiful story. It's the kind of story that I could see being animated into one of those short films before a Pixar movie. (And hey, before you wonder about it, not all Grimm Brothers stories were about people. There are several about inanimate objects. One adorable story of theirs was "The Straw, the Coal, and the Bean".)
So, long story short (see what I did there?), if you like fairy tales, stories with surprises and happy endings, a touch of romance and sentimentality - pick up this book. I mean, why not? The ebook is free at all the ebook vendors. And hey, nearly every author in this collection has a fantasy or fairy tale book of their own. If you like their style, you can go read some more.
Hoping you have a happily ever after reading list!
I hope you enjoyed this blog post. I'd love to hear from you. Do you have any favorite fairy tales? Do you have any favorite fairy tale retellings? Leave a comment below. You can learn more about Tales of Ever After and the other anthologies I've participated in on the Short Stories page of my website. Also, learn about my series of fairy tale novelettes Chasing the Romantics, a Series of Original Fairy Tales.
D. G. Driver
Author D. G. Driver's
Write and Rewrite Blog
“There are no bad stories, just ones that haven’t found their right words yet.”
A blog mostly about the process of revision with occasional guest posts, book reviews, and posts related to my books.