Words by Nemma Wollenfang
Gaslight & Grimm Introduction
Gaslight & Grimm is an anthology of 13 short stories by a range of professional writers and Edited by award-winning author Danielle Ackley-McPhail and Diana Bastine. All are fairy-tale retellings with steampunk twists. Some surprisingly inventive. From a darkly comical Puss in Boots to a beautifully depicted Red Shoes, to name some. It’s priced at £2.84 (kindle) or around £10.59 (paperback) on Amazon, so it won’t break the bank.
Length: 252 pages.
Gaslight & Grimm Overview
The back page blurb says, “Tales have been told… but never quite like these.” They’re right. While you may know the classic fairy-tales that these stories are derived from back to front, none are what you would expect. The (Steamy) Tale of Cinderella I found particularly surprising and enjoyable, as well as Ward’s rendition, The Clockwork Nightingale. Both are composed splendidly. From the Horse’s Mouth is probably the grittiest of them all, with a heart-breaking back-story told by an old woman and a horse’s head that drinks brandy. While The Giant Killer and When Pigs Fly both depict particularly strong-minded and savvy warrior-females that you can’t help but love. And that’s to name only a select few. Each story has been redesigned with the author’s own personal flair. At the same time, you don’t have to know which tales each are derived from to be able to enjoy them.
Settings range worldwide, from Russia and France to America, so you get a nice eclectic mix of cultures. This also ensures that reading remains fresh, rather than becoming stale as you go on. There’s also a varied cast of strong, believable characters throughout. However, be warned, the collection is clearly designed for an adult audience, as while there is no explicit material some scenes are graphic in nature, and at times disturbing. Just like the original Grimm fairy-tales of old. There’s no light-hearted Disney here.
Gaslight & Grimm Conclusion
Many of the contributors are veteran writers with impressive credits to their names; so you can be assured of a high calibre of writing. Each story is exceptionally well done, with no obvious grammatical or spelling errors and all flow easily. A steampunk theme is dominant and meaningful throughout too, without feeling contrived or ‘tacked-on’. The collection contains everything from mad scientist laboratories to fierce airship battles to strange and delightful clockwork inventions. You can be certain to get your steampunk kicks.
Upon research, there appears to be very few steampunk short story collections out there. At least any that are easy to find, so this book fills a niche which is sorely lacking. It does that very well – Gaslight & Grimm can easily be considered a class act.
For those with a busy schedule who have trouble finding time to read, a short story collection like this can be perfect. Although I have a few personal favourites, no individual story shone out over the rest or let the collection down. All were equally absorbing, superbly written and masterfully worked.
If you like steampunk and fairy-tales, then I highly recommend this book. It will keep you thoroughly entertained again and again.