My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Content warning: The second story about the selkie has assault and rape in it. The first has mentions of sexual assault, suicide, and death. The fourth animal abuse/mistreatment/death.
So, I’m going to try and do the review by the individual stories and in order. The one thing I will say about all of these: I HATE happily ever after type bullshit stories. I really do. Because most of them are terrible. But I did enjoy these despite the happily ever after.
Laurell K. Hamilton’s:
I own just about every single one of LKH’s books. I use to be a huge fan of hers. Til her books started turning increasingly more problematic to the point that I can’t ignore it anymore. That said, this was an excellent short story. It felt very different from Anita and Merry’s series. It felt like a fairy tale that were I ever to have kids I would read to them. The long and short of it is to escape marriage to a vile man, the princess sets out to kill herself because she thinks death is better than marrying the guy that her father wants her to marry. Instead of death as she expects from each of the monsters that she has to face in her trials she winds up passing each trial. And instead of actually rescuing the prince proper like she stated she was going to do she rescued herself. I mean sure she kind of rescued him in that she got him released from the sorceress that was holding him captive but she, through her kindness, won a bag of gold enough to get herself a bakery and marry a man who was just what she wanted. But the underlying tone of the story was of her rescuing herself from what she felt was a fate worse than death (and I’m pretty sure I agree with her on that). Though I really don’t like the purity undertones in it. That felt like they were trying to be beat into my head.
Despite the slight triggering I got with the rape thing, I enjoyed this story about a woman saving herself and rescuing herself from her prior abuser. I mean sure, she had help from her friends, but ultimately she was the one who killed him (and justly so). I’ve always found roanoke/selkie/fae-type stories to be interesting.
Marjorie M Liu’s:
I just….I have feelings about this one. So much. The princess was down to earth. Which was nice. I didn’t like the deceptiveness in her suitor/betrothed. But I enjoyed the story all the same. Especially with her going into the forest and then saving him. And the idea of mental bondage. It’s some of the best kind of bondage for this kind of story.
I liked this on one hand and on the other I didn’t like it. I didn’t like the attitude of the guy she wound up with (the whole “that’s fine, you’ll wind up with me in the end” attitude). Nor did I care too much about the guy she chose initially. I didn’t care for the girl hate that initially happened between the princess and her step mum. And I UTTERLY DESPISED her father. I liked how things wound up and how they all banded together as friends.
Buy it here: