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The Beastly Bride: Tales of the Animal People
edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling
Viking, 512 pages

Ellen Datlow
Ellen Datlow was the fiction editor of OMNI from 1981 until it folded in 1998. She later worked as the fiction editor of SCIFI.COM. Her well-deserved reputation as an editor for both The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror series and for the Fairy Tale Anthologies series has garnered her numerous awards.

Ellen Datlow Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Troll's-Eye View
SF Site Review: The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror 2008: Twenty-First Annual Collection
SF Site Review: The Del Rey Book of Science Fiction and Fantasy
SF Site Review: The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror 2007: Twentieth Annual Collection
SF Site Review: The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror: Seventeenth Annual Collection

Terri Windling
Terri Windling is a five-time World Fantasy Award winner, a consulting fantasy editor at Tor, the author of The Wood Wife (winner of the Mythopoeic Award) and other fiction, and writes a popular folklore column for Realms of Fantasy magazine.

Terri Windling Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: The Green Man
SF Site Review: The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror, 14th Annual Collection
SF Site Review: Year's Best Fantasy & Horror, 13th Annual Collection
SF Site Review: Black Heart, Ivory Bones
SF Site Review: Year's Best Fantasy & Horror, 12th Annual Collection
SF Site Review: Silver Birch, Blood Moon
SF Site Review: Black Swan, White Raven
SF Site Review: Year's Best Fantasy & Horror, 11th Annual Collection
SF Site Review: Year's Best Fantasy & Horror: 10th Annual Collection
SF Site Review: Fairy Tale Anthologies

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Rich Horton

The Beastly Bride For some time now I have looked forward to Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling's biennial series of YA oriented original anthologies: The Green Man, The Faery Reel, and The Coyote Road have preceded this year's entry, The Beastly Bride. These are very enjoyable collections, each on a loose fantasy theme. In this case, the theme is "animal people": generally speaking, shapechangers. As with the other books, this is a top-to-bottom very readable, engaging, book. I might cavil that the best stories here don't quite reach the peaks of a story like Kelly Link's "The Faery Handbag" (from The Faery Reel), but aside from that the level of achievement is consistent.

My main focus is always the stories, but this book (as with the others in the series) also includes a few poems (here by Delia Sherman, Jane Yolen, Jeanne Hall Gailey, and Nan Fry), and an absorbing scholarly introduction on the subject of "shape-shifters, were-creatures, and beastly suitors" by co-editor Windling. I wouldn't say Windling's introduction is exactly "worth the price of the book," but it's well worth reading.

As to the stories, I'll content myself with discussing briefly a few of my favorites. I liked the first three stories a lot. "Island Lake," by E. Catherine Tobler, is set just after the Second World War, about a girl with a withered leg, and her older sister, and their father, just back from the war (after losing an arm and a brother). They live on a lake, and the story is about family, and loss, and a mysterious fish-boy, and about what lures her sister to the island. Nice work. In "The Puma's Daughter," Tanith Lee offers a strong story about a farm boy who is betrothed to a girl from a hill family, a girl from a family rumored to be shape-shifters -- pumas. He resists the match at first, but then comes to appreciate his new wife, only to learn that she does have another nature, a nature that he finds it hard to accept. And Christopher Barzak's "Map of Seventeen" is an engaging story about a girl, Meg, and her older brother, who has just returned home after some time away -- bringing back his lover, another man. This being a book about shape-shifters, it's easy to guess that his lover has another "difference" -- which is harder for Meg to accept. The story does indulge just a bit in the YA weakness of lecturing, but, as I suggest, in an engaging fashion.

Carol Emshwiller writes a lot about people living on the margins of society, and about other human-like species, and so "The Abominable Child's Tale" is a natural for her, about a child, a "Bigfoot," whose human mother has died and so who comes down from the mountains to civilization, to try to see where her mother came from. She meets a few local teens, some nice, some not, and causes a bit of a ruckus. Emshwiller is as ever humanistic and optimistic. The book's salamander tale is "The Salamander Fire," by Marly Youmans, which naturally enough concerns a glassblower who falls in love with the title fire creature, only to be concerned about her lack of a soul. Lucius Shepard's "The Flock" is one of the more original pieces here, at least in it conception of "Animal People," as it concerns a high school football rivalry in South Carolina that culminates in a game involving a flock of crows. What's best about the story -- a very fine one -- is the evocation of the life of the characters -- a convincing (to me) portrayal of South Carolina and of a couple of friends with different futures awaiting them.

That's not all, of course. There is nice work here from Peter S. Beagle, Richard Bowes, Steve Berman, Shweta Narayan, and many more. It's not my favorite of Datlow and Windling's books, but The Beastly Bride is a steady and enjoyable collection.

Copyright © 2010 Rich Horton

Rich Horton is an eclectic reader in and out of the SF and fantasy genres. He's been reading SF since before the Golden Age (that is, since before he was 13). Born in Naperville, IL, he lives and works (as a Software Engineer for the proverbial Major Aerospace Company) in St. Louis area and is a regular contributor to Tangent. Stop by his website at

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