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- Throwback Thursday: Painter's Colors by Rose Strickman
Have you ever wondered where the colors of the world come from? Who makes grass so green, the sky so blue? Who paints the subtle, bold designs on a butterfly’s wings? Who captures the glitter of sunlight on water? Where does all that color come from? Summer and Winter are married. Summer is a woman of surpassing beauty, her skin the black of rich earth, her eyes the green of oak leaves, her hair as golden as grain and sunlight. She makes the sun come out, causes the trees to put out leaves, entices the flowers to bloom, but she doesn’t make the colors. Her husband, Winter, is a tall, craggy man. His hair is a wild snowstorm. His eyes are chips of ice. His skin is bluer than a glacier. Wherever he goes, cold follows. His footsteps leave traceries of frost on the ground. His laughter is snowstorms. His breath fells forests. But he doesn’t make the colors either, not even the smallest glint of sunlight on ice. That’s Painter’s job. Painter is the son of Summer and Winter. A laughing, happy, thoughtless boy, he lives only for his paintbrush and the billion shades and colors he creates with it. He paints in all the world. The golden-green stain of sunlight through grass stems? That’s Painter’s work. The blushing pink of a hibiscus? That’s Painter. The dappled hide of a fawn? Painter again. All throughout the season of his mother, Painter travels the whole world. He paints in the shining blue of a barn swallow’s wing, he colors every flower petal. He rejoices in sunrises and sunsets, the million shades of green that he traces throughout the forests. The sky he paints bright blue in vast strokes of his brush. He delights in every bird, every rabbit. And his mother, Summer, rejoices in the colors too, the warmth, while his father sleeps deep beneath a holly tree. Almost, almost, they forget about Painter’s other colors. The other colors lurk in a shed at the back of the world. Winter locked them up there last year, and Painter promised, as he promises every year, never to touch them again. But they’re still there: gallons of red, orange, yellow, brown. Waiting. At first, it’s easy for Painter to keep his promise. There’s such an abundance of other colors: blue, pink, yellow, purple, white, black and green, green, green. And then there are the million combinations and shades he can make as he travels the world, creating color. But, as always, Painter gets tired of the same colors. Really, he thinks, painting in yet another green leaf, isn’t all this green a little…boring? Would it hurt his mother to grow a few trees with different color needs? A few are purple, it’s true, but still… And all these flowers! Yes, they come in every color imaginable, but there just aren’t enough bright colors, really. And yet, not enough subtlety. How about a brown rose? That would be elegant. But what Painter yearns most for, as the summer wears on, is red. Yes, he has some red in his summer paints, but not enough. He paints in sunsets, but the colors, however bold, always fade away. He colors in more roses. It’s not satisfying. He remembers his locked-up paints. He remembers his promise. But the temptation is growing. More flowers—but Painter is sick of flowers. He’s sick of sunsets. And he’s sick of the green, green, green. He sneaks away from his mother’s sight. He slinks to the shed at the back of the world, where his father locked up his paints. He fiddles with the lock. Far away, his father rolls over in his sleep and sighs. The cold breath of Winter washes over Painter, and away goes his hesitation. He breaks into the shed. Just a little, he tells himself as he dips his brush into the first bottle of forbidden red paint. He’ll dab just a little red on a few leaves…But the color is so bright, so beautiful, against the green, that he can’t stop himself throwing around more, and more. Paint in some orange and yellow, why not! It looks glorious! Before long, Painter is charging through the world, repainting every tree in sight. That rustle of leaves you hear in autumn, when it seems every tree raises its head in a breeze you can’t feel? That’s Painter, laughing as he runs, streaking the trees with brown, red, orange and yellow: streaks that grow brighter and wider, until all the forests are aflame. Summer sees what her son has done, and she mourns, for green is her best-beloved color. She wanders, calling for Painter, but he doesn’t even hear her. He is in love with the fiery colors, intoxicated with them, heeding nothing else. Summer misses her son. She misses the green. She begins to fail. Summer walks, more and more slowly, drooping, hair shriveling. The trees mourn with her, dropping their offending leaves in shame, and the flowers wither. Even the sun, tied inextricably to Summer, visits less and less. Winter senses the change, even in his deepest sleep. He stirs more and more, sending blasts of cold into the sky, which only weakens Summer further. He frowns, muttering angrily, as the changes prompt him ever closer to wakening. He already knows what must have happened, even unconscious, and he is far from pleased. Summer weakens still more. At last she lies down, drawing the earth over her like a blanket, at the roots of an oak tree. Its painted leaves rain down over her, leaving the branches bare. At this, Winter leaps from his holly tree. He’s furious, for he loves his wife and hates to see her distress. His angry shout lets loose the first storm of his season. The storm winds shake free the final leaves, the forests heaving around Painter, who finally looks up. He shakes, realizing at last what he’s done, and what has happened. Dropping his paint and brush, he runs. Painter runs and runs, dead leaves crunching under his feet, but there’s no escaping Winter. Painter’s father roars over him in a tide of frozen wind. He seizes Painter, smacking him, making him see what he’s done to his mother, to the world. For there are no leaves left, no flowers, and Painter’s colors are all withering away to gray. Winter marches his son to the shed at the back of the world. Painter stands by, miserably, while Winter locks up his paintbrush and all his colors, especially the colors of autumn, which Winter makes Painter promise never to touch again. Painter’s unhappiness touches Winter’s heart, a little. He gives Painter sticks of charcoal to draw with, and a little blue paint. But nothing else. Winter storms away, leaving his son standing by the shed, with his wretched new coloring set, alone in the cold. All winter, Painter makes do with what his father has allowed. He draws intricate snowflakes, traces ferns of frost on windows. The pale blue he uses as much as he can, to paint the sky and the ice. But it’s a pitiful palette for such an artist. Painter’s misery fills the world, dragging down what little color there is. And all the while, Winter rages, moving restlessly, lonely beyond belief for his wife, Summer. At last, Painter can stand it no longer. He goes to his father and apologizes. He promises he will never touch the autumn colors again, if Winter will just unlock the shed and let him retrieve his other paints. Winter pays no heed at first. He is slow to forgive. But at last he relents, for he loves his son, and he wants his wife back. Together, Winter and Painter go to the shed at the back of the world. Winter unlocks the door, and Painter retrieves the gold and green of springtime. Beneath her tree, Summer stirs in her sleep, letting forth the first warm breeze. Painter travels again, painting the grass back to life, adding luster to the sunbeams. The sun, delighted at the brightness of its new gold, comes to stay more frequently. Among the roots of the oak, Summer’s sleep grows restless as she senses the change, and the warmth builds. The first birds sing, and the trees put out hard new buds. Then, at last, Summer opens her lovely eyes. She emerges from the earth, blinking in wonder at what Painter has already done to color in the first flowers, the newborn buds of leaves. And her husband and son are there to greet her. Summer opens her arms, and Winter rushes in to embrace her. And with that embrace, Summer glows as brightly as a star, and all the leaf buds unfurl in sudden glory. For all of spring, the family travels together: Painter leaping ahead, painting as much green as he can for his mother’s delight; Summer calling forth the buds, the grains, the infant animals; and Winter, happy at last at his wife’s side, even as he fades away with every step and his power lessens. Behind them, the animals follow, the birds sing and the breezes blow ever warmer. At last, beneath a holly tree, Winter can go no further. He kisses Summer one last time and gives Painter another admonishment not to touch the autumn colors. Gravely, sincerely, Painter promises he never will, and his parents exchange amused, exasperated looks. Winter folds himself back into the earth, hoping that this time he will not have to come out again, but knowing that he will. Summer and Painter leave him to be guarded by the holly tree, knowing he is safe and they will see him again, as they progress into the light and warmth and colors of the turning year. Rose Strickman is a fantasy, sci-fi and horror writer living in Seattle, Washington. Her work has appeared in anthologies such as Sword and Sorceress 32 and Earth: Giants, Golems, & Gargoyles, as well as online e-zines such as Tell-Tale Press and Luna Station Quarterly. Cover: Amanda Bergloff @AMANDABERGLOFF
- Review by Lissa Sloan: Wolf Skin by Mary McMyne
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.
- Throwback Thursday: Wolf at the Door by D. Avery
Once there was a girl who lived in a humble home with her father and her stepmother, a pair weathered gray no matter the season. The father and stepmother were doing the best they could. They loved the girl, but distracted by the sadness that steeped between them, did not have much time for her. The father lived his life as an inadequate apology he struggled to articulate. He could not seem to think beyond a late fall day, so late it might already have slipped into winter with a quick, sharp intake of breath, the kind of fall day whose fallen leaves, brown and rotting at his feet, rebuked him for not having enough laid by, for not being enough; a crisp day whose first brittle snowflakes floated reminders of the death of his first wife. The best he could manage, even now, was to mutter that the wolf was always at the door. The girl knew about the wolf, for she had sometimes seen it lurking about, though when she looked for tracks there were none. But she was never troubled by the wolf and thrilled when it appeared. She did not tell her father and stepmother about her wolf sightings, just kept them to herself like a comforting recurring dream. The stepmother knew she was the insufficient patch on cloth that, though not quite ripped, was threadbare and worn thin. She had hoped to be more to both the girl and the father. But when she tried to think of spring she could only imagine what it must be like to sink through the thick slush of the melting ice on the lake; a numbing cold, a dragging weight, the sinking shock of realizing the surface will not hold. In silent desperation she clung to her frosty husband. And so these two, frail under their cloak of destitution and unspoken regrets, did not look up when the girl called out that she was going outside to play. They did not know that the girl had spied the white wolf through the window and had given in to her curiosity. But when the girl did not return by dusk, they were both deeply worried. The father bundled up and went out into the fading light, calling his daughter’s name. The wind had risen and fiercely pushed his desperate calls back at him. Sleety snow stung his cheeks like needles of grief. The snow thickened and fell faster, filling his tracks behind him. Searching was futile. He returned to the nervous stepmother while he still could. Snow and wind continued to conspire, entombing their small home. He picked at his latest failure while his second wife loyally tried to assuage his guilt. After three days the storm finally ceased and sunlight danced on the deeply drifted snow outside. Inside, the father and stepmother were buried in feelings of hopelessness and despair. Their few neighbors joined in the search of the surrounding forest but no sign of the girl was found. Winter settled in around the devastated couple. During fitful sleep, they heard the howls of wolves echoing across the frozen lake. The girl had gone out when she’d spied the wolf through the window. The storm had not yet begun and the white of the wolf’s fur stood in relief against the dark forest and gray sky. The wolf met her blue eyes with its own. Without hesitation the girl went with the wolf. They romped playfully until the wind and snow picked up. Then they sheltered in the wolf’s den, the girl feeling more at home than she’d ever felt before. When the storm stopped the girl awakened warm and comfortable, snuggled against the white wolf. She was not at all surprised to see that she herself was a smaller version of this wolf. Just as before, words were said without speaking, and together they dug out into the winter starlight, to stand atop the deeply drifted snow. The girl saw that there was much to learn and she eagerly followed the mother wolf. They came upon some deer trapped in the yard they had stomped out for themselves in the deep snow. She saw that satisfying her own hunger brought some relief to the deer. She ate gratefully. Night after night the girl wolf went hunting and exploring with the mother wolf. She marveled at just how bright a winter night could be, the night sky a pool she drank deeply from. Moonlight reflecting off the snow blinded her with joy, her delighted laughter coming out as a howl. The mother wolf joined her song with the girl wolf’s. They spent the winter together laughing and singing and enjoying one another’s company. But as the nights grew shorter and the days grew longer, as the snow became granular and soft underfoot, the mother wolf became serious. Just as the girl had not been surprised to become a wolf, she was not surprised when the wolf mother appeared as her own human mother. Still they spoke without words. Her mother told her how much she had enjoyed spending time with the daughter she missed so much. But their time was coming to a close. The girl thanked her mother for showing her winter’s beauty. She knew that now she would forever see the beauty of both light and dark that any season held. That night when the temperatures dropped they ran together once more across the crusted snow. At dawn the mother wolf trotted silently north, leaving no tracks. The thawing ice of the lake held the girl wolf’s easy weight as she crossed, headed east towards the home of her father and stepmother. Her stepmother was at the lakeshore testing the edge when she saw the little wolf coming across towards her. She hurried back to the house to tell her husband. He went outside to see the wolf but instead found his daughter, healthy and happy, her smile as bright as a spring day. The morning sun brushed the forested hills across the lake as the girl embraced her father and stepmother. Melting ice on the eaves dripped a steady beat. Don’t be sorry she told them. Don’t be sorry. We’ll keep doing the best we can. D. Avery blogs at SHIFTNSHAKE, where she pours flash fiction and shots of poetry for online sampling. D. Avery tweets @DAVERYSHIFTN. Cover: Amanda Bergloff @AMANDABERGLOFF
- Review by Madeline Mertz: The Butcher of the Forest by Premee Mohamed
Award winning author Premee Mohamed strikes again in The Butcher of the Forest, a new thrilling tale of magic, monsters, and survival. There is nothing Veris can do when the Tyrant’s men come to her door one morning, demanding she have an audience with the Tyrant. He demands that she enter the forest once more to find the Tyrant’s children, and allows her only one day to do so. Veris is the only one to have ever entered the forest and survived, and the Tyrant assures her that she must do so again, and emerge with his children, or he will see her dead. The forest is sinister and dangerous, a place where monsters lurk in the shadows, and traps lie around every corner. Veris had her own reasons for entering the forest the first time, and she has no desire to do so a second, but she refuses to jeopardize her family and must attempt the journey. This book had my nose about an inch from the page from start to finish, desperately hoping Veris would prevail. This is exactly the kind of late night read that will raise the hair on the back of your neck and keep you entertained. It’s fast paced and wild, and the lore of the Forest and the Tyrant’s land is fascinating in its originality. I hadn’t previously read any books from Premee Mohamed, but The Butcher of the Forest definitely made an excellent impression and I’ll be sure to read more of her work in the future. If you’re in the mood for a book that will keep you on the edge of your seat, this is definitely the one for you! You can find a copy HERE. Madeline Mertz is FTM's editorial intern and is a Truman State University student with literary journal experience.
- Throwback Thursday: Dancing with the Faerie King by Sara Cleto & Brittany Warman
Though I prefer the kitchen cauldron, Rosemary, basil, and sage - Maidens all must take their turn Dancing with the Faerie King. Moonlight tangles round my throat, Witch hazel, rose, and lavender - And secrets line my slippers, Telltale scents lost under perfume and wine. Crystal glasses drunk too deeply, Lemon, mint, and orange bitters - They know their King is an ugly truth Behind sharp teeth and a beautiful lie. Revolution in my heart Oleander, hemlock, and pennyroyal - My shoe’s secret in the cup, I offer the King a shy smile and my glass. Dr. Sara Cleto and Dr. Brittany Warman are award-winning folklorists, teachers, and writers. Together, they founded THE CARTERHAUGH SCHOOL OF FOLKLORE AND THE FANTASTIC, teaching creative souls how to re-enchant their lives through folklore and fairy tales. Their fiction and poetry can be found in Enchanted Living, Uncanny Magazine, Apex Magazine, Liminality, and others. Graphic: Amanda Bergloff @AMANDABERGLOFF
- Review by Kelly Jarvis: A Study in Drowning by Ava Reid
A Study in Drowning is a novel that explores several dark themes. Effy Sayre is a young woman who has suffered trauma in her life. She is a voracious reader with a vivid imagination, and her real life visions of the Fairy King she reads about earn her the label of being mentally unstable. She is given pills to keep the visions away and help her sleep, and because women in her world are not permitted to study literature, she enrolls in an architectural college. When she wins a competition to design a manor home in honor of her favorite deceased author she is overjoyed, but, like a fairy tale, the job comes with three conditions: the manor house must have room for all of the author’s relatives, it must be large enough to house all of the author’s books, and it must reflect the spirit of the writer. When Effy arrives at the mysterious seaside cliff to begin her work, she meets Preston, a literature student from the country’s most prestigious college who is working on a biography of the author. Preston and Effy are at odds regarding the life and work of the author, and sparks fly even as the two students are physically drawn to each other. Together, they uncover mysterious details about the landscape and the past. This book is full of Gothic details and fairy world references that will delight audiences who enjoy dark academic tones. Like the best dark academia, A Study in Drowning presents the aesthetic appeal of university life and creative pursuits while also revealing its heavy underside. This is a great choice for readers interested in an atmospheric read that uses supernatural elements to explore how stored trauma from the past can permeate the present. You can find the book here. Thank you to NetGalley for a free copy of the book in exchange for a fair review. Kelly Jarvis is the Special Projects Writer and Contributing Editor for The Fairy Tale Magazine. Her work has appeared in Eternal Haunted Summer, Blue Heron Review, Forget-Me-Not Press, Mermaids Monthly, The Chamber Magazine, and Mothers of Enchantment: New Tales of Fairy Godmothers. She teaches at Central Connecticut State University.
- Throwback Thursday: How the Cunning Folk Got Their Magic by Daniel Allen
Editor’s note: This charming Throwback Thursday fable surprised and delighted us. IWe think you’ll find it as enjoyable as we did. Read on! Once upon a time, in the land of shadows, a terrible plague ravaged the countryside. Those afflicted suffered terrible boils and pains. Everyone who tried to treat them became infected, and entire villages became sick. Scared of succumbing to the disease themselves, the lords hid in their castles. The burgomasters shut the gates to their great walled cities. Left to suffer, the peasants cried out to the heavens for salvation. The Saints heard their pleas and asked God to intervene and save those sick. The Lord agreed and called upon Saints Cyprian and Justina. These saints bowed and listened as God commanded them. “Cyprian, in your lifetime, you wrote a brilliant book of spells, which you took to your grave. Travel the land of shadows with Justina. Disguise yourselves as plague victims and visit the eminent physicians there. The one who agrees to treat you is worthy to receive your grimoire, which contains a cure for the plague. Cyprian and Justina left Heaven, descending to that part of the land where the plague was worst. After disguising themselves as old beggars infected with the plague, they began their journey. They said, “Come, let us visit the physicians’ college and see if they will help us.” It’s painful to say, but their visit to the college was a grave disappointment. Though they knocked at the school’s entrance for an entire night, nobody bothered to answer. It wasn’t until the next day that they overheard a college servant say the school had closed. The doctors had fled to their homes to avoid risking infection by treating the sick. Though disheartened, Saint Justina said, “Come, let us see if the walled city over the hill will let us in and help us.” They came to the walled city, but nobody answered until after they had knocked for an entire day and night. It was the Burgomaster who announced, “Nobody is to enter the city until the plague has ended. May all the devils curse you for trying to bring the pox upon us!” Though she wept, Saint Justina said, “Come, I hope the lord across the valley will let us see his physician.” But they met with even less success at the castle. After knocking at the gates for two entire days, the castle’s men-at-arms shot at them with bows and arrows. The disguised Saints fled the rain of arrows, running through the surrounding woods. They didn’t stop until the next day, at which point they found themselves in the deepest part of the forest. Unable to find their way out, the Saints became overwhelmed by despair. They wailed and gnashed their teeth. Cyprian resolved that if they remained lost by nightfall, he’d destroy his book of spells. With heavy hearts, the Saints searched for a way out. It wasn’t until dusk approached that they found a clearing in the dense forest thicket. In that clearing was a small hut. Despite their trepidation, the two Saints approached the hut. But before they knocked, the door opened, an old woman rushing out to greet them. Despite seeing the advanced state of their sickness, she gestured for them to enter her humble abode. As she set a pot of stew and a kettle of tea atop her oven, she said, “Come and spend the night here. I will gather herbs from the garden to treat those boils.” That night, the two Saints ate hearty stew and drank comforting tea. While they relaxed after supper, the old woman treated their boils with an unguent. When at last Cyprian and Justina were ready to sleep, the old woman insisted they lay in her cozy bed. The old woman stayed up that night, knitting in her rocking chair. She kept careful watch over her visitors to make sure their illness didn’t get worse. But despite her best intentions, the old woman dozed off around dawn. When she woke up a few hours later, the two old, infected beggars were nowhere in sight. Instead, standing before her were the two Saints in their heavenly forms. Golden halos blazed around their heads. Instead of the tattered robes they had on the night before, they now wore luxurious robes of many colors. In Cyprian’s hands, he held a large, black codex. Cyprian offered the book to the old woman, saying, “Oh blessed crone! You, above all other healers in the land, have proven yourself worthy of this honor. Inside this book is a cure for the plague and multitudes of other ailments. Take this book and cure the land of shadows.” With a smile on her lips and tears in her eyes, the grateful crone accepted the book. She flipped through its pages. And indeed, each one contained a magical cure for a common ailment. She prostrated herself to them and said, “A thousand blessings upon you, Heavenly Protectors!” But Saint Justina grinned a knowing smile and approached the old woman. She blessed the old woman, saying, “Go now and heal the land. Then teach worthy people you find the secrets of the black book.” The two Saints then returned to heaven. Meanwhile, the old woman didn’t tarry in her new task. She set out at once from her hut, black book in hand. Following the land’s ancient paths, she made her way from one village to the next. At each place she stopped, she bid the locals bring her the sickened among them. She examined them and, using the spells and balms listed in the book, healed them back to health. Those treated by her survived. Not one person in the villages she visited died of the plague after her arrival. In each village she stopped at, she picked the kindest and most worthy among them to be the village healer. Before leaving, she had this apprentice copy out the black book by hand. This became the local healer’s private copy, preserved through the generations. This was the start of the cunning folk and how they got their magic. Daniel Allen is a writer based out of Boston, Massachusetts. He wrote and directed the 2017 short "Virgins Never Die". His writing has also appeared in Community X magazine.
- Review by Lissa Sloan: The Bleeding Tree by Hollie Starling
The COVID-19 Pandemic marked a period of loss for so many. But while losses directly attributed to COVID made up a huge part of this, other sorts of losses did not stop. When Hollie Starling’s father committed suicide months into the UK lockdown, his surviving loved ones began the grieving journey, one that is at once universal and highly individual. On furlough from her job and at a loss of how to cope with the unexpected hole in her life, Starling dove into learning all she could about death through the lens of folklore from around the world. The Bleeding Tree, part memoir, part folkloric study, is interspersed with short stories inspired by some of the diverse beliefs and lore Starling encountered along the way. While telling her father’s story and her own, the author examines death from every angle she can find: rituals of mourning, memorials, remembering, body disposal, society’s treatment of survivors, and more. Relentless in her quest to make sense of her pain, Starling investigates grieving, ghosts, hallucinations, trauma, and the power of story. She also digs in to the factors influencing suicide such as mental health, stigma, austerity, and class. From the seaside memorial “Buck Beck Beach Bench” to the mysterious Japanese “Sea of Trees” to the last Sin-eater of the parish of Ratlinghope, her death lore discoveries are varied and fascinating. I loved the incorporation of several fairy tales, especially one featuring Death as a character, which is one of my favorite kinds. The language of The Bleeding Tree is beautiful, lyrical, and really drew me in. With a voice that is sensitive, curious, angry, self-deprecating, and funny, Starling is the perfect psychopomp to accompany anyone wishing to examine the ways we grieve. 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.
- Cinderella's Hearth
Weekly Tips for an Enchanted Lifestyle! THIS WEEK - Magical Stuffing? Yes! Hello Enchanted Friends: I’m reusing an old post from Oct. 22, 2024. Like a fool, I got the RSV, flu and Covid vaccines together. That may work for some people, but I’ve been in bed for the last two days. (Next year I’ll space them out.) But this stuffing recipe will work year round! KW Now that The Eating Season has officially kicked off, it’s time for those of us who celebrate Thanksgiving to consider the meal. Somewhat shorn of its less than wholesome origins, Thanksgiving is now just food and football for most of us. Or food and reading if you’re like me. But first, we have to prepare the feast, and this week, I’m sharing the best stuffing recipe in the world, according to my family. It’s my mom’s recipe for chestnut stuffing. It has a nearly supernatural reputation in my family, and we are quite the eaters. Mom found it in her 1955 Good Housekeeping cookbook, but didn’t start making it until the ‘80s. Before that, we had the classic stuffing made of white bread pieces, celery, a lot of butter, onions and poultry seasoning. I still make that kind and love it. It’s very easy and pretty much foolproof. Warning: The chestnut part of this stuffing can be painful, as the nuts will burn your fingers. We consider it a small price for excellence. Here we go: Magical Stuffing 1 1/2 pounds chestnuts 1 cup butter 1 1/2 cup celery, chopped 1 cup onion, chopped 2 tsp. salt 1 tsp. dried thyme (increase amount if using fresh thyme) 1 tsp. marjoram 1/2 tsp. black pepper 8 cups of bread cubes (use white bread without the crust) Chestnut Preparation: About a week before Thanksgiving, cut a deep X in each chestnut with a sharp knife. In a small pot, bring water to a boil. Prepare the chestnuts in small batches. Drop in 10 chestnuts at a time and boil for about 5 minutes. Remove 5 chestnuts from the pot at a time with a slotted spoon. Use a knife to quarter the hot chestnuts and peel them as fast as you can. Repeat this process until all the chestnuts are peeled and your fingers are burned! Coarsely chop the chestnuts, put them in an airtight bag, and freeze until ready to use. (Definitely consider preparing 3 pounds of chestnuts and freezing half to use at Christmas.) Stuffing Preparation: In a large pot over medium heat, melt butter. Add onion, celery, thyme, marjoram, salt and pepper. Cook until the onion and celery are soft. Remove from heat and mix in breadcrumbs. If the stuffing looks dry, add some extra melted butter. Add the chestnuts to the mixture. Gently pack stuffing into a buttered casserole dish. Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake for an additional 15 minutes. This makes eight servings—which in my family really means four. Enjoy! Have an enchanted week! Kate
- FTM's Changes for 2024
Dear Enchanted Friends: It’s been a thrilling year here at The Fairy Tale Magazine. We’ve appreciated the support and generosity so many of you have extended. We will be making changes for 2024. When we started this year, we didn’t know what we didn’t know. Along the way we had a lot of fun, but I realized the four-issue schedule could not continue after this year. Here’s why: I’m healthy as of now, but as I get older I want to be a healthy granny as long as possible. Cutting back on time spent on FTM will help me achieve that goal. I will no longer be putting my own money into the publication. I would have had to reach this decision eventually, but 2023 pulled it into clear focus. People have been incredibly generous, though, and I appreciate it! I want to avoid burnout. I definitely do this because I enjoy it—I’m very proud of the magazine—but even good things can be exhausting! I’d like to continue to enjoy this passion project. To do so requires me to cut back on the time and energy I devote to FTM. The good news is that we will be publishing two issues in 2024. They will be free, because we want as many people as possible to read the magazine. We actually had solid subscription sales for the first year, but it hasn’t brought us anywhere near the number of eyes on the issues we’ve had in the past. So, we will do two issues, free to all. Spring/Summer will be published on May 1, 2024. Fall/Winter will be published on Oct. 1. They will be in glorious PDF form as only Amanda Bergloff, managing editor and art director, can do them! Just make sure you’re a current Fairy Godparents Club member or have signed up for our newsletter, and you’ll receive each issue. The site will also help get you to the PDFs next year. (The Fairy Godparents Club will continue next year. We will meet four times, and the cost will be $20 for the year if you sign up for the 2024 issues by Dec. 30. Stay tuned for instructions on how to sign up and pay.) We will be opening the submissions window for the spring/summer issue on Jan. 22 and closing it Jan. 29. The fall/winter submissions window will be June 17 to 24. The pay rate will be $25 and the lengths will be 1,000 to 2,000 words for stories and up to 500 words for poems. The theme is classic fairy tales as inspiration. We will be doing the fundraising contest in 2024. It will be our major fundraising event for the year. The contest window would be July 1 through July 30. The submissions page does not yet reflect the changes, but it will, very soon. We’ll alert you when the changes happen. I thank you all for taking this journey with me. Yours in Enchantment, Kate Wolford Katewolford1@gmail.com Image by James Jebusa Shannon, 1910
- Throwback Thursday: The Heart Baker by Fanni Suto
Editor’s note: In today's Throwback Thursday tale, author Fanni Suto conjures up heartache and magic in very few words. Enjoy this little jewel of flash fiction! He thinks he knows what he is doing. Of course, he doesn’t. How could he when he only sees until the edge of Rosaline’s skirt. What worries me is that I don’t know what he is doing either. That’s the real tragedy. I know the inside of his head more than he does, but now he is slipping away. I don’t understand. That girl, woman, witch, whatever, is ugly! Exotic beauty and rare looks, the knobby kneecap of my great-aunt! And yet that’s what Albert and all the other bewitched boys say. Nice marketing, that’s what I say. That wicked woman put something in their food, poisoned them into loving her. The way to a man’s heart leads through his stomach, after all. Albert was supposed to marry me not her. He even gave me a ring! Now he’s asking it back. It was a mistake, he says, a midsummer madness. No-no, I won’t give up so easily. Yesterday the moon was full and I knew that she, the thief of my happiness, was going out to collect herbs on the hill. I followed her, melting into the shadows, praying to the spirits of the night to hide me. Rosaline had a long gown, the color of winter skies and a white basket that glowed with a silver light under the soft touch of moonshine. She filled the basket with herbs and leaves smelling of mint, the sunshine of the first spring day and the notes of a lullaby. A spell of drowsiness weighed down on me, but I resisted. My determination was stronger than any magic that witch could master. I had to discover how she was doing it, leading the village men by their noses, making them dance as she whistles. I followed her to her house at the edge of the dark forest and peered in through the window. Rosaline stood there heating a furnace; her flame-blonde hair flowing around her face. She threw leaves into the fire upon which the flames turned a deep violet. I could almost hear the cracking and feel their heat. She took a box from the corner and threw its contents into the fire. I could only catch a glimpse of the clay-colored objects, big as my fist. She cleaned her tools and kitchenware, then she returned to the flames and took out one of the finished products. I could see clearly now; it was a heart made of some strange, living material. The witch produced a hammer and slammed down, murmuring under her breath. A mist emerged from the heart, slowly taking the shape of a girl with gloom-black hair and olive skin. The apparition looked me in the eye and blood froze in my veins. It was me. Albert’s last memory of me disintegrated with a sad smile, and I understood that I'd irrevocably lost him. Fanni Sütő writes poetry, short stories and a growing number of novels-in-progress. She publishes in English and Hungarian and finds inspiration in reading, paintings and music. She writes about everything which comes in her way or goes bump in the night. Cover: Amanda Bergloff
- Review by Kelly Jarvis: The Land of Lost Things by John Connolly
In The Land of Lost Things, John Connolly returns to the redemptive power of words and stories that he explored in his earlier novel The Book of Lost Things. Although the new novel is a standalone tale, it does reference characters and places from the older novel. I read The Book of Lost Things years ago and was thrilled to discover Connolly’s new treatment of how stories and words can save our lives. The Book of Lost Things tells the story of David, a child searching for his lost mother, and The Land of Lost Things tells the story of Ceres, a mother searching for her lost child. Ceres’ daughter Phoebe has fallen into a coma after a devastating accident, and the book opens with Ceres’ attempts to come to terms with losing her daughter. Ceres moves her comatose child away from the city to a country facility, and it is here that she discovers the haunted house of the elderly writer who composed The Book of Lost Things. Ceres enters the forest, discovering another realm populated by wolves and woodsmen. She must navigate this new land in an attempt to restore her daughter to her. Connolly’s writing is for readers who love complicated plots with stories inside of stories. In addition to the main narrative, the book relays fairy tales that Ceres shares with her daughter, stories that she channels, and folklore she remembers from her own father, who worked as an amateur folklorist and a university librarian. Each chapter begins with a word from an ancient language followed by its definition, so as readers make their way through the text, they learn that Uhtceare is Old English for “lying awake before dawn too worried to sleep” and Teasgal is Gaelic for “a wind that sings”. Connolly’s story celebrates the power of language and proposes that “You can destroy a book. You can burn it, you can tear it to pieces and scatter them to the four winds, you can soak it until it reverts back to pulp or the ink turns the water black, but you can’t destroy the content of the book, or the idea of the book, not as long as there are those who care, who remember.” The Land of Lost Things beautifully explores the intimate relationship between readers and writers and between fiction and life. You can purchase the book here. Thank you to NetGalley for a free copy of the book in exchange for a fair review. Kelly Jarvis is the Special Projects Writer and Contributing Editor for The Fairy Tale Magazine. Her work has appeared in Eternal Haunted Summer, Blue Heron Review, Forget-Me-Not Press, Mermaids Monthly, The Chamber Magazine, and Mothers of Enchantment: New Tales of Fairy Godmothers. She teaches at Central Connecticut State University.