Review: Happily Ever After, Edited by John Klima

For those of us with little time, every minute counts. After an entire day of wasting away doing a thankless job (proven by pitiful paychecks and grumpy supervisors), the few minutes of freedom before sleep are precious. How can we best utilize that time? By reading Happily Ever After, one short story at a time.

Happily Ever After is an anthology edited by John Klima, in which each story was in some way inspired by a fairy tale. I am an absolute sucker for any kind of fairy tale retelling, but good ones are few and can be difficult to find. So this particular anthology was right up my alley. Plus any editor who was inspired to make an anthology by Neil Gaiman’s “The Troll Bridge” is guaranteed to have fantastic taste in stories.

Happily Ever After starts with something I didn’t expect – the first story isn’t a story at all, it’s a play. I thought this was a clever way to hook the reader in with something unusual right off the bat. It then continues throughout its (now well-worn) pages to twist, tweak, and sometimes completely reinvent each fairy tale it touches.

Among the retellings are ones you would expect – Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, Little Red Riding Hood, Sleeping Beauty – but, to my delight, it was more than just a roll call of Grimm Brothers characters. One of these oft-neglected gems is introduced in “The Night Market” by Holly Black, a retelling that has roots in the Philippines. Puss in Boots, originally a French tale, gets an amazing Science Fiction treatment in “Ailoura” by Paul Di Filippo, which is now one of my favorite short stories of all time. “The Troll Bridge” must be mentioned, but I don’t need to tell you how awesome it is -- I mean, we are talking Neil Gaiman, here.

Truly, there’s little I didn’t like about this collection. It was put together by a man who obviously loves the genre and picked the stories with care. All of the authors are so gifted it’s ridiculous, and I’m so glad we now have all of these wonderful stories in one place.

Buy, Borrow, or Pass?

This collection has something for everyone – especially if you love fairytale retellings: Buy!

Happily Ever After, edited by John Klima
Paperback: 477 pages
Publisher: Night Shade Books; 1st edition (May 24, 2011)
ISBN-10: 1597802204
ISBN-13: 978-1597802208

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