At Midnight Review

  • Editor: Dahlia Adler
  • Genre: Fantasy, Contemporary, Sci-fi and Romance
  • No. of pages: 496
  • Star Rating: 3.5 stars

Plot: Fairy tales have been spun for thousands of years and remain among our most treasured stories. Weaving fresh takes and unexpected reimaginings, At Midnight brings together a diverse group of celebrated writers to breathe new life into our beloved traditions.

So I am going to review these stories from 1 star all the way to 5 star!

Sugarplum – Anna-Marie McLemore (2 stars)

A re-telling of The Nutcracker. I have learnt a lot recently about what I like in my re-tellings and I will dedicate a whole post to that discussion but all I will say for now is – I want it to feel like a re-telling. I don’t want the story to be so vague I wouldn’t pick up on the fact it’s a re-telling and unfortunately that was the case for this story here. He was just too vague and the story itself was just boring.

The Littlest Mermaid – Meredith Russo (2 stars)

A re-telling of The Little Mermaid. As re-tellings go, it was a clear re-telling of The Little Mermaid whilst also wholly being its own story. That being said, it wasn’t my favourite. I found myself being a bit confused throughout the story. I think the story just needed clearer execution.

Sharp As Any Thorn – Rory Power (2.5 stars)

A re-telling of Sleeping Beauty. Another case of it being super loose re-telling. It was a interesting enough short story and I liked the ending but I didn’t think it was a very strong Sleeping Beauty re-telling at all.

Fire and Rhinestone – Stacey Lee (3 stars)

A re-telling of The Little Matchstick Girl. I love this story growing up. I do not know why as it is very sad and this story is no different. I really enjoyed the story and the relationship between the main character and her Grandma. The ending made me tear up loads though I will say it did feel a bit rushed and I can’t tell if that’s down to the authors pacing or just the nature of the short story format.

Mother’s Mirror – H.E. Edgmon (3 stars)

A re-telling of Snow White. I have mixed feelings about the re-telling. I enjoyed a trans man being that the forefront of the story and the evil stepmother characters written so well it at one point got a bit too much for me. But as re-tellings go it wasn’t my favourite and I found some of the dialogue to be a bit cringey.

The Sister Switch – Melissa Albert (3 stars)

So, this story was not a re-telling but an original story by Albert herself. I loved the setting of this story and the fairytale she created herself but I would say the execution missed the mark for me. I was waiting for a pay-off that never really happened and found myself confused by the ending.

Once Bitten, Twice Shy – Hafsah Faizal (3 stars)

A re-telling of Little Red Riding Hood. This story started off super strong and then again it kind of lost its footing around the 50% mark. As re-tellings go it was fine. It wasn’t my favourite in the collection but I did enjoy the story.

Say My Name – Dahlia Adler (3.5 stars)

A re-telling of Rumplestiltskin. Now this!!!! is how you do a re-telling. Probably one of my favourite re-tellings in the collection. I thought it stayed true to the core story beats and character motivations of the original folktale while being fresh and new and putting a good twist on it. I did deduct a star because one of the main characters behaviour felt quite creepy to me and I am unsure, even still, if this was an intentional part on the author to make the character more unlikable or a choice made by the author as a motive behind the acts which then left me feeling uncomfortable. I also found some of the dialogue to be a bit cringe.

A Flame So Bright – Malinda Lo (3.5 stars)

A re-telling of Frau Trude. Now, I have never read this tale before so I can’t comment on the nature of the re-telling but as a story I really enjoyed it. I really liked the setting and the building on tense and wary atmosphere between the village people. I will say the ending didn’t have enough set up as the characters literally spoke once to each other and I never saw them have another conversation after that so them being as close as they were made no sense to me. This could be just down to the fact I haven’t read the tale so I am missing key points of reference.

Coyote in High Top Sneakers – Darcie Little Badger (4 stars)

A re-telling of Puss in Boots. So, I vaguely remember the Puss in Boots tale but most of my PIB knowledge is from Shrek. So not wholly accurate. That being said I just found this story to be super engaging and entertaining. I loved the narrative structure of this tale and I loved having an animal themed story in this collection. Also I loved a good Batman’s Gambit!

In the Forest of the Night – Gita Trelease (5 stars)

A re-telling of Fitcher’s Bird. Another tale I didn’t read prior to this story. But it did not matter with this story because it was one of the most entertaining stories in this collection. I was on the edge of my seat the entire time. I literally went and googled the original tale as I loved the story so much and I wanted as much extra info as possible! The writing was beautiful, the setting was very well described and established (Colonial India) and the last couple of pages were some of the most intense I read in the collection.

The Emperor and the Eversong – Tracey Deonn (5 stars)

A re-telling of The Nightingale. Miss Deonn NEVER MISSES! This was another tale I didn’t read prior to this story. Deonn’s writing is just so engaging and atmospheric. I found the Emperor character to be very captivating and I enjoyed watching him on his search for notoriety and immortality and wondering if he would succeed or not. The time just flew by as I was reading this story.

Just a Little Bite – Roselle Lim (5 stars)

A re-telling of Hansel and Gretel. AGAIN!!! Another amazing re-telling. Like truly captured the essence of the tale. I thought the writing was super atmospheric and the more horror elements were written really well. I didn’t want the story to end and I need the author to write a sequel this very instant because I need more!

A Story About a Girl – Rebecca Podos (5 stars)

A re-telling of The Robber’s Bridegroom. I didn’t know the story too much going into this re-telling but did I love the story as a whole anyway. It had a story within a story structure which I always love and I enjoyed both stories but that ending had me jumping for joy it was so good!

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