A review of Delia Sherman’s “Wizard’s Apprentice” in Troll’s Eye View edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling (Viking, 2009)
By Derek Newman-Stille
Fairy tales frequently deal with ideas of children being lost away from home. Frequently, their parents are cruel but aren’t depicted as the villains of the tales, excused of their mistreatment of children. Delia Sherman’s “Wizard’s Apprentice” explores a young person who is perpetually trying to escape from home and from the violence of his home. Sherman explores the notion that home is not always equated with a sense of comfort, care, and safety. For people who are abused, home is frought with the sort of horrors that fairy tale children encounter out in the woods. Home can be a space populated by monsters.
Sherman complicates notions of home, reminding her readers that violence is not something distant, but frightfully close and present. Sometimes the only option is to escape the monsters of home, and sometimes the only way to do that is to find someone even more frightening because what frightens bullies more than someone stronger than them who refuses to be bullied.
Sherman gives her protagonist, Nick, a chance to find himself and forge a new type of family structure for himself, complicating simple ideas of family and home. She creates a family based on shared knowledge and opportunities to find new methods of overcoming seemingly impossible conditions, using magic to complete household tasks that wouldn’t be possible without learning. Nick is a dynamic character, able to shift perspectives as easily as he learns to shift shapes.
To find out more about Delia Sherman, visit http://www.sff.net/people/kushnersherman/sherman/
A House of Candy and Transformation
A review of Daryl Gregory’s “Even the Crumbs were Delicious” in The Starlit Wood: New Fairy Tales ( Ed. Dominik Parisien and Navah Wolfe, Saga Press, 2016)
By Derek Newman-Stille
Hansel and Gretel is a tale that entwines poverty and childhood and its popularity for revision illustrates the endurance of the narrative of child poverty. In “Even the Crumbs Were Delicious”, Daryl Gregory tells a tale of homeless, abused, and rejected children who are in search of food… but more importantly, they seek an escape that can be provided by the candy house… especially this kind of candy.
The best send-off that Tindal could think of for Rolfe was to take Rolfe’s drug printer and print drugs over the entire inside of his apartment, but Tindal didn’t expect that he would find those walls of drugs being consumed by street kids. As the random cocktail of drugs pumps through the veins of a boy and a girl, they begin to shift into a familiar tale, seeing Tindal as a witch who has captured them through magic, and perhaps he does weave a form of magic over them (in addition to the magic of drugs), because they undergo transformations in perception around their circumstances.
But, Tindal also undergoes transformations, both in the drug-addled eyes of the children and in his own perception of himself and his place in the world. Tindal, in trying to do what every adult does – return children to their parents, but, through that process he discovers that childhood can be far more painful and far more challenging than he can imagine.
To discover more about the work of Daryl Gregory, visit https://darylgregory.com/
To find out more about The Starlit Wood: New Fairy Tales, visit http://www.simonandschuster.ca/books/The-Starlit-Wood/Dominik-Parisien/9781481456142