Fairy Tale Retellings for Adults: Snow White, Blood Red

In 1993, editors Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling offered up an anthology of fairy tales written expressly for an adult audience, Snow White, Blood Red. Featuring writers as distinct as Neil Gaiman, Jane Yolen, Tanith Lee, Charles de Lint and Patricia McKillip, the anthology contains nineteen fairy tales and one poem, as well as two introductory essays from the editors.

It’s a book that I mostly remembered for one of its retellings of Little Red Riding Hood, and also for introducing me to Charles de Lint’s Newford stories and novels.Rereading it now, I realized that I’d forgotten its other strength: it showcases just how much can be done with and inspired by fairy tales.

Arguably, the introductory essays form the most important part of the anthology, particularly Terri Windling’s lengthy essay outlining the differences between the literary fairy tale—that is, fairy tales carefully crafted for the enjoyment of adults—and ...