This is a collection of fairy tale retellings that, while written in 20th Century, read like classic literature, with long, winding sentences, reflective narrators, and lush descriptions.
What doesn’t read so much like classic literature are the sexual overtones in each story, which are not demure or implied, but explicit without being tasteless. It brings to the surface a sense of what you always suspected might be going on in fairy tales, but it does so in a way that allows them to maintain their dreamlike, otherworldly quality.
This is not a quick read; the writing is dense and best consumed when you have some quiet time to yourself to just sink into it. But having it broken up into short stories makes it much more manageable.
My favorite stories were the “beast” ones, particularly “The Tiger’s Wife,” in which we see the true vulnerability of sexuality, as well as its transformative power, in a way that is both unsettling and beautiful.
Yes, it seems this collection has become something of a retelling classic for a reason.