I was sent this anthology to review and I couldn't be more pleased! I've always been a fan of Cleis Press books and when you combine erotica and fairy tales I'm all in. There are a wide variety of stories here, re-tellings of well-known tales as well as some that might not be so instantly recognizable. For myself, I found that I was drawn to those that I could instantly pick out which stories inspired them and then set about to compare how they eroticized the originals. Out of the seventeen contributions to this anthology, there were a few that stood out particularly for me.
I enjoyed "Gretel's Lament" and how it utilized a perceived danger, with a hint toward the house of sweets and the oven from the original, to twist into something else entirely. "The Beast Within" puts the Beast into a corporate environment, the subject of conflict resolution. There was a nice exploration of his family issues as a reason behind his beastly nature and the Beauty character of the story was able to bust through his walls to help him find happiness again. "The Last Dance" is an inventive retelling of "Twelve Dancing Princesses", with the sisters all having been born at the same time as duodecaplets. In an age of media exposure, they were forced to live their lives in the spotlight and just want to break free of that constant scrutiny. With some identity swaps sprinkled in, it's all about wanting what others have and finding your own happiness. I really liked the take on Rapunzel in "Shorn". She wasn't imprisoned to protect her chastity, but because of her defiance over not cutting her hair. She does have a prince who joins her nightly, but her escape wasn't motivated by just her own desire for freedom. And, considering how much I do love stories that involve transgender characters, the inventive take on Pinocchio in "Real Boy" was wonderful. In this, Geppetto does not build a child from wood, but instead adopts an orphaned little girl who was left on his doorstep. As she grows, it becomes clear that her identity is that of a boy and the story explores the transition and the defiance of children against their parents. Once he learns the respect his father taught him, then he becomes a real man. A wonderful addition to this inventive collection.
I would most definitely recommend this erotic anthology to those who want to explore a new take on old fairy tales. You might see the characters in a whole new light after you're done!