At Midnight / Dahlia Adler, Editor / Book Review

A man-eating tiger on the loose, a deadly prophecy between sisters, a wily Coyote on a quest, a heist and a hijabi... 

Fifteen familiar fairy tales are woven anew in this anthology. The same old tropes and characters are transformed for the contemporary age, reaching back in time and far into our spacefaring future. From murderous  Emperors to social media magnates, this collection mingles magic with the mundane... and a fair bit of gore as well, as all good fairy tales do. 


It is particularly hard to rate a collection of short stories, especially an anthology where each story is written by a different author. With so many styles and angles, undoubtedly each reader will find some of these stories excellent and some not so much. Some of the stories in this collection managed to surprise me, and I appreciated that. But the overall rating is high-middling at best.


  • Delightfully Gruesome: Though not every story in this collection embraces the gore of the source material, many of these pieces would make Angela Carter proud. Dripping blood and rusty bloodstains, hideous creatures of the deep, murderous intentions and cannibal tendencies: this book is beautifully grotesque, and I loved that. 
  • Woven Magic: Not every story in this collection includes magic, either, but those that do grasp that hint of the supernatural get it so right. Fairytale aren't always outright magic, and neither are these stories. They just toy with the edges of the magic, playing with the theme without letting it overwhelm. The original tales are so carefully considered in these new renditions, and it is excellent. 
  • Standalone: One common problem that I have with short story anthologies based on a theme is that the stories end up blending together. That is not the case here. Each story stands on its own two feet, and it stands out from the rest of its anthology companions. It is hard to predict what might be coming next, because each of these stories is so different--and that's exactly as it should be. 


  • Inspired: I am incredibly picky about my fairy tales reimagined. I want them to be, you know, fairy tales reimagined. The problem, therefore, comes down to the fact that some of these stories aren't fairy tales. You can have contemporary fairy tales. You can have fairy tales in space. You can have fairy tales anywhere and everywhere, whatever the exterior trappings. But some of these stories were merely "inspired," by which I mean they took a theme from the story instead of embracing the story itself. That's fine, but that's not what this collection promised. So some of these tales were disappointing. 
  • Bland: In the middle of the collection--or what I presumed to be the middle of the collection--I found my attention waning. That's a sad thing when each story is self-contained. I shouldn't find my attention wandering in a short piece. It is even more disappointing to push through into an excellent follow-up story... just to find that it is the last in the collection. Because half of the collection is comprised of the original tales themselves. I like that inclusion, but I wish there were more reimaginings. I've read all the originals, after all, and so they weren't as useful to me as they will undoubtedly be to others. 
  • Child Abuse: This is not a con so much as a warning. Anyone going into a fairy tale collection should know that child abuse is going to be a theme, but "should" is the operative word here. When pop culture has sanitized so many of these tales, readers may not know to expect this going in. The theme of child abuse here is as dark and horrifying as it is in the source material, and some readers will struggle with that. 



Fans of Editor Kate Bernheimer's My Mother She Ate Me, My Father He Killed Me will appreciate this new, dark collection. Fans of Daniel M. Lavery's The Merry Spinster will love the grisly twists these authors give to their old tales. 


Publisher: Flatiron Books
Date: November 22, 2022
Series: N/A
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Note: I was provided with an ARC by the publisher through Edelweiss+ in exchange for an honest review. All opinions here are my own.


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