Tales from the Tower Volume 1: The Wilful Eye, edited by Isobelle Carmody and Nan McNab
I always think it’s a sad moment in our lives when we stop reading fairytales. Fairytales always seem to belong first and foremost to the very young, and the dark themes that once existed in them have become sanitized so as not to scare before bed. But in Tales From the Tower Volume One: The Wilful Eye, these fairytales have been transformed and given new life, and placed back into the hands of older readers.
A collection of six short stories edited by Isobelle Carmody and Nan McNab, The Wilful Eye succeeds at doing the seemingly impossible: it takes these tales we’ve heard time and time again, and it makes them into real, fleshed-out stories. Rosie Bordella’s take on The Snow Queen places Gerda and Kai in a snowy Sydney in ‘Eternity’. Margaret Mahy transforms the forest from Babes in the Wood into a dark and dangerous back alley in ‘Wolf Night’.
But the standout story in the collection has to be Carmody’s. We’ve all heard the story of Rumplestiltskin before: the princess locked away and asked to turn straw into gold, and the strange, vengeful little man who helps her do it. In ‘Moth’s Tale’, Carmody gives the princess a name and a voice. Moth is a clever girl who can talk to animals, but when her father boasts that his daughter has magic, the cruel king locks her away. This whimsical take on a familiar story makes it new again and instils it with the same sense of magic it had when you first heard it. All of these stories take something we feel like we have always known and reintroduce us to them, showing us sides to them we’d never even stopped to consider, spinning them back into true tales of enchantment.