Today I am delighted to be helping kick off the blog tour for Once Upon A Winter: A Folk and Fairy Tale Anthology which is out from Macfarlane Lantern Publishing tomorrow. This is a wonderful wintery read, and I hope that you will check out both it and the rest of the blogs helping with the tour.
Disclaimer – I received a copy in exchange for an honest review, all thoughts are my own.
A shape-shifting spirit haunts a family in England during the depths of winter.
A woman must locate a snowflake for a magical trickster to save her frozen true love.
A witch knocks upon a young man’s door to take his life on Christmas day.
A small boy meets a faerie housed within a snow drop.
Once upon a time stories travelled from place to place on the tongues of merchants and thieves and kings alike. Under the blanket of night they were exchanged between children, and passed on to their children, and their children after them. Details were altered from one generation to the next until thousands of tales existed where once there were few.
In the spirit of these age-old stories comes Once Upon a Winter, a seasonal anthology of folk and fairy tales from 17 authors across the globe. It covers the Gothic, the romantic, the whimsical, the frightening and everything in-between, and features both intriguing twists on classic tales and exciting original stories.
The first of four planned seasonal anthologies from Macfarlane Lantern Publishing, Once Upon a Winter is sure to have a story for just about everyone. Grab your copy in time for Christmas today!
Inside this anthology:
The Biting Cold by Josie Jaffrey
The Match Girl by Rebecca F. Kenney
Santa Claus is Coming to Town by Bharat Krishnan
A Pea Ever After by Adie Hart
The Snow Drop by H. L. Macfarlane
Silverfoot’s Edge by Ella Holmes
The Storm Hags by Caroline Logan
The Boggart of Boggart Hole Clough by Jake Curran-Pipe
Around the Hawthorne Tree by Jenna Smithwick
The Best Girl this Side of Winter by Laila Amado
The Snow Trolls by S. Markem
Lord of the Forest by Katherine Shaw
Queen of the Snows by Joyce Reynolds-Ward
Long Meg and the Sorcerer’s Stones by M. J. Weatherall
The Frost of Mercy by A. J. Van Belle
Wintercast by R. A. Gerritse
You Can’t See Me by Kate Longstone
As soon as I saw this anthology advertised I knew that I wanted to read it. I love folklore and fairytales, and the idea of a winter-based approach to that was great, and I just adore that cover. At the time I hadn’t realised it was the first of four seasonal based anthologies, but I’m delighted to know that and will definitely be checking out the others as and when they are available because this was a wonderful collection of stories.
As with any anthology, some stories resonated more strongly for me than others, but the writing across the collection was stellar, and every single story offered a fascinating take on both the central theme of winter, but also on the tales that they draw inspiration away from. I loved the blend of classical stories and original tales, but even those more rooted in existing material took approaches that made it new and refreshing – for example, one of my absolute favourites was Little Match Girl which is based on my favourite fairy tale. I could see the familiar elements, but I adored how the author took that and twisted it – and I did not see the reveal about Ember coming.
‘She was dying of cold. Dying, in a town full of people, full of houses swelling with heat and light, bursting with fragrance and food. She was dying because they were too frightened, too comfortable, too careless and cruel to let her in.’
What I particularly liked was not just the variety of stories, which as the summary states runs the gauntlet from whimsical, to creepy and everything in between, was that while they kept that feeling of being a folk or fairy tale whether old or new, there was always added depth to each story. There is a variety of themes being explored here, which gave the anthology that much more of an impact in my mind, but also demonstrates just what can be done with these kind of tales.
While some might not have resonated quite as strongly, there wasn’t a single story I disliked in Once Upon a Winter and I feel that each one brought something essential to the collection. That said I did have my favourites, as already mentioned I loved Little Match Girl by Rebecca F. Kenney – it was just a wonderful take on an already beloved story, and I’ve already gone back and read it a couple of times. I adored the wonderfully creepy ending to Santa Claus is Coming to Town by Bharat Krishan, and it was a fantastic opportunity to learn a new folk legend that I hadn’t heard of before.
Possibly my favourite was APea Ever After by Adie Hart, which was a fairytale I know but had never been a huge fan of, and yet I loved what Hart did with it here – from the nods to the classic story, to the explanation of why the trials were needed and I loved the idea of Fairy Godmothers having that kind of role, but most of all it was the characters that made it shine for me – they were vibrant, wonderfully realised and each one stood out and I also liked that the Prince wasn’t relegated to a silent presence. Another one I have to highlight, and will freely admit this is due to personal bias is The Boggart of Boggart Hole Clough by Jake Curran-Pipe just because I adore Boggarts, and there just aren’t enough stories about them, especially wonderful ones like this. And another contender for favourite alongside A Pea Ever After is The Storm Hags by Caroline Logan, firstly because of how it played with the idea of prophecy and the Chosen One and I loved the idea that fulfilling destiny isn’t always the right thing; but also because of the imagery which was simply fantastic.
These are just my personal favourites, there were so many positives about each story and I think everyone would be able to find something that resonates in Once Upon a Winter. This is a wonderfully atmospheric collection that is absolutely perfect for this time of year. Some of the stories will have you shivering, and wrapping that blanket around you a little tighter, while others will have you waiting, pressed up against the window for the snow to arrive so you go chase fey in a winter wonderland.
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If you’ve read it, or read it in the future, please feel free to shout at me about this fantastic book.