It begins with butterflies, colorful and delicate. Some flutter alive and free, while others are trapped in the killing jar and skewered with a pin. Then the fairy tales begin, fluid and surreal, moving from modern life with its bumper stickers, highways, and headlights into a world of witches and wolves, red hoods and moonlight.
In her 2014 chapbook, Wolfskin, poet Mary McMyne beckons readers into the wood and the realm of the fairy tale. Through poems on “Little Red Riding Hood,” “Hansel and Gretel,” and “Rapunzel,” she gives voice to mothers and daughters, woodsman and princes, girls and grandmothers. With dreamlike imagery and sensuous language, McMyne delves into the subconscious to unpack love and loss, innocence and experience, violence and death. Fans of The Book of Gothel will see sparks of inspiration for McMyne’s debut novel in “Old Woman Gothel,” in which Rapunzel’s foster mother laments: Let she who is without sin/cast the first stone.
But she is not satisfied with one character per tale, or one idea; McMyne feels into the corners, subverting and exploring the complexities of heroines and huntsmen, memories and good advice. Multiple interpretations of the same stories provide a satisfying depth that will hold fairy tale lovers spellbound. Shining a lantern into the shadows of the forest and illuminating the truths they hide, Wolfskin is a bewitching bite of fairy tale magic that will leave you hungry for more.
You can find a copy of the book here.
Lissa Sloan is the author of Glass and Feathers, a novel that tells the story of Cinderella after the “happily ever after.” The Enchanted Press will publish it next February.