Anthology: Love in the Gilded Age

Reasons for Inclusion: Characters are POC, class issues come up often (especially in the second story). Kerenne in the second story uses a wheelchair. The third story is a lesbian Sleeping Beauty retelling in a queer-accepting culture.
Publisher’s Summary:

Once in a hidden queendom…

There is an ocean: In the infinite distance, between one hidden world and the next, is an unmeasurable expanse of twenty seas. One sprawling edge of the world to another is filled with waters as beautiful as they are deadly, as miraculous as they are fraught. Treasure and treachery litter their ocean beds, sleeping side by side with adventurers whose travels ended abruptly, lives caught and held under a wave until all breaths fled.

There is a land: Tucked into a corner where four oceans fold together, land rises up illustrious in a jagged slash of mountains and forests, with secrets and wonders as plentiful as any water.

There are chronicles: Not of the twenty savage seas but of the fissure of land and the people who sigh life into it.

In an original epic fantasy world, Love In The Gilded Age reimagines the heroes and heroines of Grimm fairy tales as ethnically diverse, LGBT, disabled, and gender flipped.

My Review;
(4/5 stars)
This book captured me at the first page. I wanted a whole story in the lyrical language of the introduction!
Fissure is a fairy tale world filled with people of all colors, sexualities, and abilities.
Little Red must kill a wolf to avenge a ghostly grandmother. The girl who’s ordered to spin straw into gold uses a wheelchair. The hero of Sleeping Beauty is a lesbian knight who likes sewing, who lives in a world where anyone can marry who they like.
As befitting modern retellings, the stories end more in “I want to get to know you” than “love at first sight.” Which definitely fits in with the practicality of this world, but maybe takes a little away from the “fairy tale” side of things. I’m reminded a little of Mercedes Lackey’s Five Hundred Kingdoms stories, where self-aware heroes are forced into the steps of old tales by magic influence.
The characters are vibrant and immediately interesting, as is their world. Xanna’s story is significantly more complex than the other two, and diverges a lot more from the inspiration. I loved the amount of imagination that went into twisting the old story into something new.
There were a few things that I personally didn’t like. The first two stories felt a little too reliant on violence and killing, and I got a little bit tired of being told over and over how dumb and ignorant men are. The nation of Rime was generalized as being full of rude people; I’d like to see a story involving them with a little more complexity.
But that’s just a few nitpicks. I really liked these fairy tales, and I’m looking forward to more!
(ARC received from author)
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