The original fairy tales were pretty gruesome affairs with the wicked and sometimes the innocent meeting horribly bloody ends. LA VALSE is probably the most gruesome tale in CLOCKWORK FAIRY TALES was an interesting take on the RED SHOES by Hans Christian Andersen where instead of one bratty girl getting taught a lesson, horrible noblemen and women are tortured at a ball. I was a bit confused though about the application of the deadly technology on the nobility. I couldn't figure out if they were just automatons or really trusting rich people who had odd steampunk attachments put on them during the ball. Either way it was kind of satisfying to see mean rich people meet a horribly bloody end while dancing at a ball.
FAIR VASYL by Stephen Harper
Being familiar with Vasilisa the Beautiful and other tales involving Baba Yaga I was surprised at the gender change of the main character from Vasilisa to Vasyl. I adored the steampunk house design on Baba Yaga's house that stands on chicken legs. Along with the house there are lots of other little touches paying homage to the original story. FAIR VASYL was a very whimsical story with anamatonic animals and brooms helping Vasyl complete his tasks to win the hand of a girl and escape from the Baba Yaga. The most surprising and touching element of this story was the romantic twist over just who Vasyl really wanted to be with in the end.
THE HOLLOW HOUNDS by Kat Richardson
THE HOLLOW HOUNDS was an amusing tale with mechanical talking dogs helping a soldier save a town. I loved the visuals of a vast cavern of steampunk mechanics and dangerous monsters. The battle with the antagonist and the giant mechanical dogs was pretty epic and filled with amazing steampunk fighting machines. As with most of these stories the ending is slightly altered from the original to fit this version and I really enjoyed the adorable `happily ever after' ending with the soldier and his dog.
THE KINGS OF MOUNT GOLDEN by Paul Di Filippo
Most of these tales you can kind of see the original story underneath the `steampunk' veneer and slight altering of storylines. After reading THE KINGS OF MOUNT GOLDEN I had a really hard time figuring out what the original could possibly be like as this one felt the most original of the bunch. This story veers the most away from the original tale. I liked how it became its own story as it seemed to add a lot more depth to the tale and added a happier ending which while not in keeping with the original was satisfying after the horrible things the characters go through.
YOU WILL ATTEND UNTIL BEAUTY AWAKENS by Jay Lake
Only being familiar with Disney's Sleeping Beauty which took liberties with the original by Charles Perrault I was excited to see a darker version. The storytelling for YOU WILL ATTEND UNTIL BEAUTY AWAKENS was really unique with various narrators and gave a more indepth and fascinating back story to the characters. For such a short story this had a lot of world building and I would love to see a full novel version of this world. The twist on the curse set upon "Sleeping Beauty" was ingenious and probably in keeping with the darker tones of the original story. The ending was not happy for some of the characters but oddly satisfying and pretty logical given the parameters of the curse in this version of the Sleeping Beauty story.
MOSE AND THE AUTOMATIC FIREMAN Nancy A. Collins
This was my least favorite of the stories as it was basically just a kid magically getting big and strong and becoming a famous firefighter. There were some fun steam powered gadgets but it just didn't grab me like the other stories in this book did and Mose came off as kind of obnoxious and arrogant though one would if they suddenly were Paul Bunyan sized.
THE CLOCKWORK SUIT by G.K. Hayes
THE CLOCKWORK SUIT had a lot of story to fill in as the THE EMPEROR'S NEW CLOTHES (the tale its based on)is a pretty bare bones in plot. The story has children working in a sweatshop to create a Clockwork Suit for a vain, genius professor who wants to present it to the emperor. The shift of the professor being the vain one duped by children was a pretty nice change from the original as it allowed for a bigger story plotwise. While the emperor was not vain he did come off as a bit reckless trying on a huge steam powered suit himself rather than making another servant do it. Though the emperor did need to be naked in the end to stay true to the ending of THE EMPEROR'S NEW CLOTHES...
THE STEAMPIPER, THE STOVEPIPER, AND THE PIED PIPER OF NEW HAMELIN, TEXAS by Gregory Nicoll
This was a really clever adaptation of the original legend turned fairy tale of the PIED PIPER of HAMELIN. Being set in Texas it had a quaint Western feel to it especially with the added steampunk style guns and looming Native American tribe threat. While the Native Americans helped with the Western feel of the story their purpose to the story was kind of confusing and even unnecessary.
Aside from confusing Natives the rest of the story was engaging and fun. Instead of a magic flute luring rats and children away we have a grand steam powered organ. It was fun trying to imagine a steampowered organ travelling around the countryside with rats and kids mesmerized by its music. The addition of Stovepipe Montpelier as the protagonist of the story who helps figure out what the Piper has done to the children helped with connecting to the characters and get a feel for the town of New Hamelin and its citizens.
THE MECHANICAL WINGS by Pip Ballantine
THE MECHANICAL WINGS felt the most `fairy tale-ish' out of all of these adaptations with actual magic and steam technology that seems almost magical in its creation. I actually had a hard time conceptualizing some of the technology in my mind and had to settle for the `its just magic so roll with it' mindset. Aside from that Eleanor's quest to save her brothers from the evil queen by making magic capes was exciting and satisfying to see. It was kind of like a hero's journey where the hero has to be broken down and go through many struggles before finally being vindicated in the end.
All reviews are based on two separate 5-point scales – 1 to 5 for clockwork usage and 1 to 5 for the story itself 3.5 stars overall. I rounded up
La Valse CLOCKWORK – 5 The usage of clockwork is fun, though a bit too technical, with terminology used that I had to look up to understand. STORY – 3 The story itself did nothing for me though, and ended very strange, though I understand these are workings of fairy tales, but, strange all the same. OVERALL – 8
Fair Vasyl CLOCKWORK – 5 The clockwork usage in this tale is excellent, and has that suspension of disbelief covered. STORY – 4 The story had 2 major plot twists, which I will not ruin, but I did see both of them prior to the reveal. The anachronisms in the dialog made this a difficult story to get lost in, without the usage of modern verbiage. OVERALL – 9
The Hollow Hounds CLOCKWORK – 5 <Minus 1 for unnecessary use of goggles> 4 The Hollow Hounds were neat, and the clockwork use in this tale was well done. STORY – 4 The story in and of itself was almost three stories told in sequence, which made this a bit more fun. When a story was ending, another began, and you realized that you could stay a bit longer in this world, which I enjoyed. OVERALL – 8
The Kings of Mount Golden CLOCKWORK – 4 The clockwork in this is more ‘mad scientist’, but it is there. <A la Prometheus> STORY – 3 The story itself flows, takes expected turns, and ends expectedly and with a hard stop of finality. The language is very much in the period, though some phrases from the now leak in, taking the story out of the sepia tone and into a more modern take. This is not a great tale overall. OVERALL – 7
You Will Attend Until Beauty Awakens CLOCKWORK – 3 Clock-workings of automata and some other mentions, this comes off very Prometheus, and very little clockwork. STORY – 1 The story – oh this story is so useless. It rambles through the tale, and quick small bites of chapters into a pointless story. What I feared most when I started this, was an author trying to sound refined and cultured; but coming off out of place. OVERALL – 4
Mose and the Automatic Fireman CLOCKWORK – 5 Though it does not have any in the beginning, once it is introduced, it is full on there STORY – 5 This is one of those short stories you long to read. It is full of character and action, and though there are no surprises, the story still holds true to form OVERALL – 10
The Clockwork Suit CLOCKWORK – 3 Don’t let the title fool you. The suit is automata running on steam, so it is not clockwork. No mainspring, not clockwork. Get it? STORY – 3 Simple and predictable – like Charlie and the Chocolate factory meets the Emperor’s New Clothes (which the tale is a retelling of), except in steam punk (not clockwork) OVERALL – 6
The Steampiper, The Stovepiper, and the Pied Piper of New Hamelin, Texas CLOCKWORK – 3 <Minus 1 for unnecessary use of goggles> 2 STORY – 1 This one gets the longest review for so many bad things within it:This comes off as a weird west take on clock-punk plus steam-punk with some Tesla-punk added for seasoning. The force of dialog with the German accent is annoying. They are German, I get it, but “zis iz not how zay talk in Jairmany” You vill haff to do better zan zis. A horse cannot carry a man and his gear and a divers helmet made of metal. That is ridiculous. Cacophony is a good word, unless you use it too many times in a short story. And finally, he has to try all three – yeah, didn’t see THAT coming. OVERALL – 3
The Mechanical Wings CLOCKWORK – 5 It started off with very little, but grew more as the story progressed. STORY – 4 I was glad that this one ended the way that it did. You knew what would happen, but knowing and reading are two different ends. OVERALL – 9
Our Review, by LITERAL ADDICTION's GuestvReviewer - Michelle M: *Copy gifted for an honest review
This book is a collection of Steampunk Fables based on fairy tales. These stories take you back to a time long ago but with a twist. I loved them. My favorite would be You Will Attend Until Beauty Awakens. This one is based on Sleeping Beauty and I just loved the story. Each of the Fables in this book stick to your mind and you will always remember them and I love that about a book that I read. So many times you can forget what the books were about but this one will always stick.
The technology in these makes a person like me, 'a tech nerd', happy and learning about Steampunk was a great experience for me. You had gears, laboratories, mechanical dogs and treasure. You get a little and a lot all at the same time. Short stories but great on detail and Steampunk goodness. This was my first book on Steampunk and I will definitely be checking out more of this genre now that I got to get into the worlds in each of these Fables.