The Outspoken Princess and the Gentle Knight: A Treasury of Modern Fairy Tales

Edited by Jack Zipes. Illustrated by Stephane Poulin.

Bantam Books. $22.95
(trade paperback $12.95)

Fifteen fairy tales. Some might seem familiar. Others you've never heard before.

Here Red Riding Hood's name is Polly and she visits her grandmother by bus and rain . . .

Here the youngest prince is really a princess, who sets out to rescue a prince from a wizard but marries the wizard instead . . .

Here a king who hates cats finds that his daughter has turned into a cat until he allows her to marry her true love . . .

In The Outspoken Princess and the Gentle Knight Jack Zipes has assembled a collection of unusual fairy tales. While all the stories are reprints, there's probably something new for even the well-read fantasy lover.

The authors represented range from regulars in the fantasy field -- Tanith Lee and the ubiquitous Jane Yolen -- to writers not usually associated with fantasy -- Ernest Hemingway; Ukrainian-born Dov Mir, a relative newcomer to American audiences; and Richard Shickel, better known as a film critic.

The stories themselves include retellings of familiar fairy tales, twists on familiar themes, and freshly original plots. You think "Princess Dahli" is Cinderella in disguise? Maybe. Maybe not.

Zipes particularly emphasizes that the anthology is "for children of all ages." He has chosen carefully, generally from sources aimed at younger audiences, stories that older readers will enjoy as well. He succeeds marvelously.

The sophistication of these tales ranges from the sublime (a princess whose beauty blinds everyone, including herself, until a fool learns to love her) to the ridiculous (another princess who likes to drive forklifts marries a prince who flies helicopters?!).

The introduction, on the other hand, is thoroughly adult, perhaps too academic or analytical for even most grown-ups. If so, skip it.

Jump into the stories themselves. They're waiting.


This review originally appeared in the February 12, 1995 edition of The Roanoke Times and World-News.


This review copyright 1995 by Wendy Morris

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