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Foxfire, Wolfskin and other stories of shapeshifting women

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Drawing on myth and fairy tales found across Europe - from Croatia to Sweden, Ireland to Russia - Sharon Blackie brings to life women's remarkable ability to transform themselves in the face of seemingly impossible circumstances. These stories are about coming to terms with our animal natures, exploring the ways in which we might renegotiate our fractured relationship with Drawing on myth and fairy tales found across Europe - from Croatia to Sweden, Ireland to Russia - Sharon Blackie brings to life women's remarkable ability to transform themselves in the face of seemingly impossible circumstances. These stories are about coming to terms with our animal natures, exploring the ways in which we might renegotiate our fractured relationship with the natural world, and uncovering the wildness - and wilderness - within. Beautifully illustrated by Helen Nicholson, Foxfire, Wolfskin and Other Stories of Shapeshifting Women is her first collection of short stories. All are either reimaginings of older tales, or contain characters, beings and motifs which appear in older tales.


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Drawing on myth and fairy tales found across Europe - from Croatia to Sweden, Ireland to Russia - Sharon Blackie brings to life women's remarkable ability to transform themselves in the face of seemingly impossible circumstances. These stories are about coming to terms with our animal natures, exploring the ways in which we might renegotiate our fractured relationship with Drawing on myth and fairy tales found across Europe - from Croatia to Sweden, Ireland to Russia - Sharon Blackie brings to life women's remarkable ability to transform themselves in the face of seemingly impossible circumstances. These stories are about coming to terms with our animal natures, exploring the ways in which we might renegotiate our fractured relationship with the natural world, and uncovering the wildness - and wilderness - within. Beautifully illustrated by Helen Nicholson, Foxfire, Wolfskin and Other Stories of Shapeshifting Women is her first collection of short stories. All are either reimaginings of older tales, or contain characters, beings and motifs which appear in older tales.

30 review for Foxfire, Wolfskin and other stories of shapeshifting women

  1. 5 out of 5

    Amalia Gkavea

    ''No one wants to work the land, now; they just want to sit and look out of the picture window and stare at the water. A 'view', they call is, as if they had nothing but eyes to know this place with- and as if their eyes could ever even scratch the surface of it from where they stand. His friends and family have been dying all around him for years, and some days it seems that there'll only be him left standing at the end of the world. A crumbling saint; a reluctant relic of a way of life that ''No one wants to work the land, now; they just want to sit and look out of the picture window and stare at the water. A 'view', they call is, as if they had nothing but eyes to know this place with- and as if their eyes could ever even scratch the surface of it from where they stand. His friends and family have been dying all around him for years, and some days it seems that there'll only be him left standing at the end of the world. A crumbling saint; a reluctant relic of a way of life that's gone forever. Just like that poem she read, years ago now- about a stone statue, all that was left dissolving in the desert at the end of everything.'' Daphne was turned into a plant to escape Apollo's unwanted attention. Io was turned into a cow to flee Hera's wrath. Medusa fell victim to Athena's illogical revenge. Arachne dared to challenge the Goddess of Wisdom and became a loathsome insect. Greek Mythology is full of stories of women who ''shapeshifted'' with or without their will, because of fear, love, transgression. All cultures are rich in stories of shapeshifting women, each one a universe in itself. In this beautiful volume, we are given retellings of the tales of old Europe and tales where characters are given a new voice. Sharon Blackie has also included notes regarding the inspiration behind each story. Wolfskin : A story based on a traditional Croatian/Slavic myth with an interesting ending. The Last Man Standing : A tale inspired by an Irish myth, set in Scotland. A story of old age and true love. The Bogman's Wife : A Scottish/Irish story of a mermaid's rightful revenge, inspired by W.B.Yeats' poem The Song of Wandering Aengus. Foxfire : A Scandinavian tale of the huldra, a woman-fox that seduces men who wander in the forest, exacting revenge on those who fail to satisfy her. ''It was the human skulls on top of the fenceposts that gave the place away. Though I have to say, it wasn't quite what I'd been expecting. Every one of them had a candle inside, eye sockets all lit up, grinning away in the late afternoon gloom like some half=crazed band of jack - o'- lanterns.'' Meeting Baba Yaga : This tale was supposedly inspired by the classic Russian story of Vasilisa the Brave (...and not ''Vasalisa'' as the writer states...). The Russian woods and Baba Yaga deserved better treatment than a story whose main character is the epitome of the middle-aged newly-turned into a hippie who is uneducated, ignorant, disrespectful, whose only source of ''education'' is the ...Tardis and lifestyle magazines. I was disgusted by this treatment of Russian culture. The character (and by extension, the writer) should learn how to spell before they criticize Russia and its vast cultural significance. Appalling. ''We're a fanciful folk here - fanciful and fey. What could you possibly know about our sea-longings, our hill-cravings? What could you know about the eerie half-light of midsummer nights in the glen?'' The Water Horse : A Scottish/Irish story, set in the Highlands, of the legendary each-uisge, the horse that acquires the appearance of young men. A beautiful tale of a girl who didn't pay attention to cautionary tales, a myth of true love that echoed The Gloaming. ''This land, this island of white and snow. Can you follow the sparkling motes of freezing mist through Arctic air? Do you see the aurora's brushstrokes on the pure, translucent canvas of our icebound cliffs? This beauty so pellucid, so serene that your heart would shatter if you thought it might pass forever from this world. This beauty. No wonder you come seeking it. This last bastion of ice; the still point of a burning world. I have seen the icebergs weep; I have seen the dissolution of great glaciers. Snow Queen has raised them from the dead.' ' ''Snow Queen loves silence. Loves the silence of ice and snow. It is Snow Quuen now who knows best; it is Snow Queen who alone has held true. Snow Queen will make an iceberg of your heart.'' Snow Queen : The Danish tale is turned into a Dystopian story set in a world destroyed by climate change, set in an incredibly beautiful and terrifying landscape. The Saturday Diary of the Fairy Melusine : Melusine is given voice to condemn her husband's abuse in a story inspired by the French myth of the Serpent Wife. ''You have listened to the song of the blackthorn at winter solstice, and drunk from the well at the world's end. Here you are now, and here you will linger on. Forever? You have no stories about forever.'' The Madness of Mis : An Irish tale of a daughter who lost her father and became one with the mountains until she fell in love. Haunting and brilliantly written. I Shall Go Into A Hare : A tale about the hare and the Easter eggs as symbols of fertility and the association between witches and hares. Set in our era, very raw. Brilliant. The Weight of a Human Heart : Based on the famous love triangle of the Irish hero Cu Culainn, Emer and Fand. I don't believe this was a positive moment in this book. The final twist seemed to me a cheap gimmick, a bone to satisfy the expectations of the so-called ''today's'' audience. Flower Face : A tale of scorn, betrayal, unimaginable abuse and retribution, based on the Welsh myth of Blodeuwedd from the Mabinogion. ''She cannot face another hundred years of this. The last time she renewed herself, the Great War had just ended and there was hope. Who'd have imagined they'd do it all again? Who'd have thought, in just one hundred years, they'd have caused so much carnage? What could they do in another century, with all their implacable power?'' No Country For Old Women : A haunting retelling of the Gaelic myth of the Cailleath who becomes young every hundred years by bathing in the lake. Here, she seems utterly done with all the mess we've made... Apart from two disappointing moments, I loved Blackie's writing and the immediacy of the characters' voices. I appreciated the balance between the two sexes, the focus on love, honour and independence as reasons to transform and escape. This is pure literary quality. Absolutely beautiful illustrations by Helen Nicholson. ''Perhaps, when the world has turned a few more times, when their remaining relics have all crumbled away into dust- perhaps then she will bathe again on the flat rock by the sea loch at Bealtaine. But she does not think she will. The last of her men was the last man standing. And she will be the last of the fairy wives.'' My reviews can also be found on https://theopinionatedreaderblog.word...

  2. 4 out of 5

    imyril

    A glorious collection of retelling and re-imaginings centering female characters and frequently challenging the traditional female fairy tale experience. While many of the tales inevitably feature themes of assault or infidelity, there's a fiercer response here than the traditional tale allows for. The collection also makes room for older women - if mostly in the role of the goddess. There's even a small space made for female friendship, however unlikely in the original circumstances. Particular A glorious collection of retelling and re-imaginings centering female characters and frequently challenging the traditional female fairy tale experience. While many of the tales inevitably feature themes of assault or infidelity, there's a fiercer response here than the traditional tale allows for. The collection also makes room for older women - if mostly in the role of the goddess. There's even a small space made for female friendship, however unlikely in the original circumstances. Particular favourites for me: The Last Man Standing, The Bogman's Wife, Meeting Baba Yaga and No Country For Old Women Full review I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Shalini

    A brilliant author is Sharon Blackie. Her prose strummed with a strange lilt that bespoke of the ancient folk tales passed from generation to generation, some told as a bedtime story and some hidden as a myth. All had strong women at its core. Emotions raged high when these women were wronged. Some thrived in evil, some wanted revenge. Some just symbolized their inner animal, some took on this form forever. Traditional stories were mixed with a couple of contemporary ones to span the lengths of A brilliant author is Sharon Blackie. Her prose strummed with a strange lilt that bespoke of the ancient folk tales passed from generation to generation, some told as a bedtime story and some hidden as a myth. All had strong women at its core. Emotions raged high when these women were wronged. Some thrived in evil, some wanted revenge. Some just symbolized their inner animal, some took on this form forever. Traditional stories were mixed with a couple of contemporary ones to span the lengths of the novel and show its inner potential. Illustrations at the beginning of the book were the teasers, they increased my inner craving to know more. Started with a bang with the story of Wolfskin, it brought a shiver of excitement. At 4 pages, most barely begin the story, but Sharon's brilliance shone when she wrote the entire story, complete and horrifying, paving the way for more. Each story brought its own charm, some wicked, some evil. And all of them had me cackling with glee. The author’s research into the old Gaelic, Irish, Scottish, Russian, Celtic folktales was extensive (as shown in her notes at the end), but I was in absolute awe at the way she spun the stories her way using the tales as bare inspiration and telling me the story of transformation of each of these shapeshifting women, nature at the core of their hearts and animal their body.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Alex (PaperbackPiano)

    As soon as I heard about this collection, I knew I wanted to read it. And I had a feeling in my gut that I was going to love it. There is not a single weak story in this collection; I genuinely loved every last one. The writing is phenomenal throughout and I loved that the folklore inspirations for each story were explained at the end. The book also features stunning illustrations at the beginning of each story. I am seriously going to be pushing this book on everybody for the rest of my life. Wo As soon as I heard about this collection, I knew I wanted to read it. And I had a feeling in my gut that I was going to love it. There is not a single weak story in this collection; I genuinely loved every last one. The writing is phenomenal throughout and I loved that the folklore inspirations for each story were explained at the end. The book also features stunning illustrations at the beginning of each story. I am seriously going to be pushing this book on everybody for the rest of my life. Wolfskin This was the perfect story to open this collection. It really kicks things off with a bang! It is honestly such a powerful little story and it's not even 4 pages long. The writing is completely gorgeous and has such a dreamlike quality. So empowering! An instant favourite. The Last Man Standing Again, the writing is utterly beguiling in this story. This is a sad and haunting tale. Any mild confusion I had was cleared up by the author's explanation at the end. The Bogman's Wife This story started to bring in sensual elements (though never explicit) and it worked so well. Once again, I adored the gorgeous writing. It felt like I was reading an old fairytale. Foxfire I love the mythology behind this one! Another favourite from the collection. The imagery was fantastic. Meeting Baba Yaga If any of the stories in the collection spoke to me slightly less, it would be this one. The narrative voice was more modern and the narrator wasn't the most likeable. Plus it was slightly weird for my tastes. But even saying that, it was still an enjoyable read. And I loved the nod to Pratchett's Granny Weatherwax ;) The Water-Horse This one returned to the old folktale feel that I so love and adore. This was another favourite of mine (in part, because it made me think of The Scorpio Races!) Snow Queen The writing!! I keep saying it but wow, heart eyes everywhere. This was so stark and beautiful and haunting. The Saturday Diary of the Fairy Mélusine The tone of this one felt very dark and scathing but wow, I still loved it. I've never heard of the mythology behind this one but it was absolutely fascinating to learn about. The Madness of Mis The second person narrative used throughout many of these stories is SO effective; it really makes you feel you are being told something ancient that has been passed down through the centuries. I don't know how many times I can say I loved this. This story was another favourite, with its vivid descriptions and almost-poetic tone. I Shall Go Into A Hare I have to admit, it took me a minute to work out what has going on with this one! But I quickly got on board. I enjoyed the cyclical nature of this story, though there was something slightly disturbing about it too. The Weight of a Human Heart This story is written as a conversation between two women and both voices are so distinct. The emotion leaps off the page immediately. I could totally see this being performed in the theatre! Flower Face In my opinion, this is one of the darkest stories in the collection. I also thought it was one of the most unique; I've never read something based on flower lore before! No Country For Old Women This was a wonderful story to close the collection, bringing everything full circle. It was beautiful and uplifting.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Rachel Bridgeman

    Compiled from myths and tales spanning the mainland of Europe, re-interpreted to center the feminine , 'Foxfire..' celebrates  the strength and power of women,with the bonus of an afterword which directs you to the origins of each tale. Lushly illustrated by Helen Nicholson, the 13 tales are witchy, wild and wonderful, drawing natural comparisons to the doyenne of feminist short stories, Angela Carter, but I would also draw a direct link from Sharon Blackie, to the work of Marina Warner Men ignore Compiled from myths and tales spanning the mainland of Europe, re-interpreted to center the feminine , 'Foxfire..' celebrates  the strength and power of women,with the bonus of an afterword which directs you to the origins of each tale. Lushly illustrated by Helen Nicholson, the 13 tales are witchy, wild and wonderful, drawing natural comparisons to the doyenne of feminist short stories, Angela Carter, but I would also draw a direct link from Sharon Blackie, to the work of Marina Warner Men ignore women, and by extension nature, at their peril-the maiden, the crone and the hag are all represented here in their different incarnations as fairy wives, werewolves, sprites and even the Welsh myth of Blodeuwedd-in 'Flower-Face'-from the Mabinogion.This is quite possibly my favourite of the tales, it is a story we have grown up being told from very young,as constant a presence in school lessons as that of Gelert. Here, however, this flower maiden,created to be a wife for an unworthy Prince, named Lleu, is given short shrift and doomed. As Blodeuwedd reminds King Gwydion, who tried to outsmart the curse placed on his son to never have a human wife, creating one from meadow seet, oak and broom is not a wise idea- ''My heart is made of oak,the sacred tree:the gateway to other worlds.Ancient,enduring,long-lived oak.It doesn't know how to give up.It's a hard old tree, the oak:so easy to resist the pests who try to bring it down.You made me from the tree of kings:from it,you fashioned the heart of a queen.Do you see now the strength of my heart,old man?Do you begin to understand your error?'' And this is the crux of the tales-recognise the value of the woman who chooses to be in your life, ignore this at your peril. The raw, elemental energy that comes with the sacred feminine is not able to be pinned to a wall, as in 'Wolfskin', where a hunter conspires to catch a shape shifting woman's pelt and keep her as his wife. This is never going to be a story which ends well... 'The Snow Queen' turns it's origin tale on its head as the queen is presented as someone who has been wronged by Kai and Gerda, that the power of her ice was used to fuse what was broken-she was not incapable of feeling. I read it as an allegory of environmental destruction, the danger of the melting polar ice caps which will lower the temperature of the world creating natural disasters threatening animal and human life alike. In this story, Kai and Gerda return to ask for the Snow Queen's help to reverse what is happening and bring back the cold and the ice to the earth. 'Meeting Baba Yaga' is a modern day reconstruction of the classic Russian story of a witch-clevelry retold using a narrator who finds their elemental self beyond reach of all the New Age 'hippy-ness' that they have consumed. The droll humour suggests to this reader that this is a deliberate,kindly mocking of those 'daytrippers' to the shamanic journey. In orer to live the life you have to commit, a one day course on Shamanism does not a shaman make. Authenticity and recognition of your powerful, witchy sources is key!I have always loved the decription of Baba Yaga living in a moving house supported by chicken legs. I love that all stages of womanhood are represented here in all their guises, it is a natural successor to the fabulous 'If Women Rose Rooted'. If that was a call to arms, a klaxon cry to women to recognise their raw and elemental power, these short stories are examples from across the world to show that it has always been so. Women have to reclaim their own power, no one will hand it to them willingly. So,sisters, shall we fight?

  6. 4 out of 5

    Heidi Nobantu

    This was perfect winter/time of the dark reading for me. Each tale a delightful surprise with some morsel of learning or laughter or remembering within it. I especially enjoyed Meeting Baba Yaga ~ seeing and laughing at some of my journey this time around. Thank you Sharon!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Kelly Van Damme

    To follow

  8. 4 out of 5

    Pip (Bookish_Pip)

    Big thank you to Turnaround Books for sending me a review copy! A beautiful collection of short stories. Foxfire retells and reshapes a selection of European folk stories and uses them to explore the female experience and challenge the ones presented to us in these old stories. As someone who’s obsessed with folklore I was incredibly intrigued by this book and seeing how the feminist slant portrays the women featured in many of these well known stories because, often times, women don’t always ge Big thank you to Turnaround Books for sending me a review copy! A beautiful collection of short stories. Foxfire retells and reshapes a selection of European folk stories and uses them to explore the female experience and challenge the ones presented to us in these old stories. As someone who’s obsessed with folklore I was incredibly intrigued by this book and seeing how the feminist slant portrays the women featured in many of these well known stories because, often times, women don’t always get the most glowing portrayals in these folk stories. It’s been a while since I’ve read a short story collection so I was pleasantly surprised to find that each story had its own ‘voice’ in the collection, and each being wildly different from the last. The snappy Wolkskin story at the start to the Meeting Baba Yaga story told more in the style of an email kept each story fresh and engaging. I especially liked these two but the duologue for The Weight of a Human Heart was also incredibly fun to read. Finding new things to comment on within these myths is incredibly difficult as many of it has been done before however, Sharon Blackie has managed to do this wonderfully. The book also has some incredibly beautiful descriptions of nature. Sharon Blackie has a beautiful ability to draw the readers in and make them feel as though they’re there. It’s summer while I’m reading this but the descriptions of the frigid forests and lonely headland really transported me to those wonderful liminal spaces! I would say that even though this is a collection of feminist story retellings, many of these focus mainly on the themes of marriage, childbirth and love. While these are important aspects and ones that are practically inescapable in folklore, surely there is more to the female experience than this that could be explored through the stories that surround us. The Snow Queen was one that didn’t overtly focus on these themes and stood for something a little different which is probably why it stood out to me a little more than the others. Some stories I feel could have benefited from another voice as in The Water Horse. At the start of each story, a small single page illustration is featured to start the story. It’s not often I say I don’t like illustrations or an illustration style in books but the ones featured really didn’t do it for me and were a little disappointing with their simplistic portrayals of the story but this of course didn’t effect the book itself. (Idk, this might be my illustrator side whinging!) Overall I really liked the collection and would recommend it to people, like me, who love folklore! Some of my favourites from the collection were Wolfskin, Meeting Baba Yaga, Snow Queen and Flower Face. The writing is lyrical and transportive and the portrayal and reinterpretation of the women featured in these stories may not be wide but it is certainly very deep.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Danielle Williamson

    I read this one in a book club. This is a book of short stories written by Sharon Blackie. Each short story is a retelling of a (mainly European) myth with a women-centric view. What I liked about it is that she showed many different kinds of women and their many different desires, without falling into the angel or demon dichotomy. However, some of the short stories just didn't gel with me. For example, Mis and Dub Ruis's story in which Mis's sanity is only restored by Dub Ruis's seducing her- I I read this one in a book club. This is a book of short stories written by Sharon Blackie. Each short story is a retelling of a (mainly European) myth with a women-centric view. What I liked about it is that she showed many different kinds of women and their many different desires, without falling into the angel or demon dichotomy. However, some of the short stories just didn't gel with me. For example, Mis and Dub Ruis's story in which Mis's sanity is only restored by Dub Ruis's seducing her- I know this one was also retold by Ni Dohmnaill as well * but I just don't think anyone can turn this one into an empowering story for women, however much creativity and genius is given to it. However, some of these were absolutely beautiful and lyrical and I adored them; particular mention goes to the Snow Queen, No Country for Old Women, and the one with the cattle and the good old husband whose dog died (can't remember the name). *pointed out in Geofeminism in Irish and Diasporic Culture: Intimate Cartographies by Christin M. Mulligan

  10. 4 out of 5

    Helen

    Fascinating collection. I particularly liked 'No Country For Old Women ' 💟📚😊 Fascinating collection. I particularly liked 'No Country For Old Women ' 💟📚😊

  11. 5 out of 5

    Marquise

    All the stories feel the same, like a non-stop stream of snippets from a same disjointed story.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Vendela

    4/5 of the stories in this book are glorious. And the last one, oh, the last one.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jo

    A collection of short stories inspired by folklore, fairytales and women's history. Like all collections, some stories were more enjoyable than others. A collection of short stories inspired by folklore, fairytales and women's history. Like all collections, some stories were more enjoyable than others.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Daria Tyuneva

    As with all collections of stories some were better than others, but the writing was absolutely beautiful and inspired. I loved the idea and the realisation.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Snap

    Wonderful collection of stories based on older tales, myths, and legends. The strength of the feminine. Renewal. Transformation.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Adrian

    BLACKIE’S SEASONALLY APPROPRIATE BOOK PUTS THE MS. INTO MYTHS I appear to have tapped a rich seam of folklore, myths and fairy tales in the last year or so. Earlier I read and reviewed Lancelot by Giles Kristian, an imagining of the life of the Lancelot of Arthurian legend, for this blog. My bookclub’s reads have included the Snow Child, by Eowyn Ivey, a reworking of the Russian fairy story and The Familiars by Stacey Hall, which fictionalises the Pendle Witch Trials. I’ve also enjoyed The Hoarde BLACKIE’S SEASONALLY APPROPRIATE BOOK PUTS THE MS. INTO MYTHS I appear to have tapped a rich seam of folklore, myths and fairy tales in the last year or so. Earlier I read and reviewed Lancelot by Giles Kristian, an imagining of the life of the Lancelot of Arthurian legend, for this blog. My bookclub’s reads have included the Snow Child, by Eowyn Ivey, a reworking of the Russian fairy story and The Familiars by Stacey Hall, which fictionalises the Pendle Witch Trials. I’ve also enjoyed The Hoarder by Jess Kidd, a story of hoarding and the supernatural set in the modern day. One of the most striking repeated themes in all of these has been the fox as a familiar or as a sign of magical happenings. Its certainly given foxes a good press! This month’s first offering is ‘Foxfire and Wolfskin’ and is subtitled, ‘and Other Stories of Shapeshifting Women’. It is by Sharon Blackie and published by September Publishing (www.septemberpublishing.org) on the 2nd of October. Inside Sharon Blackie reworks and retells some tales from European folklore, myths and legends. There is a helpful guide to original stories and their origins in the back of the book. Her emphasis has been to give the female characters a stronger, more positive role. I must say my heart sank a little when I read this on the cover. Whilst I am a feminist, I don’t feel we should be rewriting stories and recasting films and TV show with women to replace the original male characters carte blanche. If the story works better with a woman as the lead role then fine, but just redoing things with female characters instead of males does nothing to inspire me. There are many stories of truly inspiration women that have been overlooked by the history books or novel and screenwriters that could inspire us for many years and in a more authentic way. However, as we know, many of the myths and fairy stories we are familiar with today were sanitized by the Victorians and later “Disneyfied” make the characters cute and appealing. In the time before women were relegated to subservience and being ladylike and agreeable, the women in our history were strong, independent and feisty. Blackie hasn’t repopulated the stories with women instead of men, we’ve just been given the female slant to a tale and maybe the woman has come out on top or got her revenge. So actually, what I found when I read this book, was that in the main I enjoyed the stories. This is due to Blackie’s fine storytelling and light hand on the feminist leanings. There is a great sense of humour in several of the pieces, especially ‘Meeting Baba Yaga’, which possibly typifies my straight talking mother’s reaction to me doing yoga, which she said she thought was a little ‘out there’ for someone who works in a scientific job! I really liked the updating of the stories involving nature and our relationship with it. Some were very poignant like ‘Last Man Standing’. Some like ‘No Country for Old Women’ would inspire environmental activism but mostly I just enjoyed the descriptions of nature and feeling of connection with the real and mythical world. This is Irish Author, Mythologist and Psychologist Dr. Sharon Blackie’s (sharonblackie.net) fourth book. Her others are The Long Delirious Burning Blue (2008), If Women Rose Rooted (2016) and The Enchanted Life (2018). Sharon is an internationally recognised teacher of mythic imagination and has a large following through her online communities, and the courses and workshops she offers through her “Hedge School”, she lives in Connemara in the west of Ireland and is no doubt quite busy on the run up to “An Samhain” or All Hallows Eve in three weeks time. This book feels like it should be great reading for young adults but some of the stories could be considered too adult in content for teens (maybe that’s the Victorian prude speaking!) but I expect that depends on your teen? Some people would just enjoy it for the calibre of its prose. It’s a lovely bit of escapism from modern day stresses. I also think if you ignored the subtitle, men would have no idea it was encouraging modern women to shed their skin and transform their lives. Maybe that’s its secret power! I certainly reshaped and shifted my initial view upon reading. So with the nights getting chillier and evenings drawing in, why not snap your fingers or click your mouse and order a copy online or haunt around your local bookshop for a copy in time for the spookiest night of the year. Reviewed By: Georgina Murphy on www.thelibrarydoor.me

  17. 4 out of 5

    Julie

    Many tales have emerged concerning women who change their very nature. Periodically assuming the form of wolves, fish, or other creatures, they fall in love with human men, spend time as women in relationships, before returning to their natural form. Sharon Blackie has taken the themes of these tales, varied as they are, and woven new stories around them. She puts them in different times, different contexts, as she tells elemental tales of sea shores, islands and forests. The rhythms of nature t Many tales have emerged concerning women who change their very nature. Periodically assuming the form of wolves, fish, or other creatures, they fall in love with human men, spend time as women in relationships, before returning to their natural form. Sharon Blackie has taken the themes of these tales, varied as they are, and woven new stories around them. She puts them in different times, different contexts, as she tells elemental tales of sea shores, islands and forests. The rhythms of nature thread through these stories, full of the beauty of wild places. The women are shown in all their variety; beautiful, loyal, quiet, vocal, mothers and lovers. They are warriors, saviours and occasionally victims, but they often express their feelings silently. Though many of these stories are timeless, one is very contemporary, showing the concerns of a woman who is trying to get in touch with her true power animal. This particular story manages to encapsulate many well known elements of a traditional tale, while giving it a vivid modern twist. With some sly humour and knowing nods to the original tales, this book reclaims a great deal of the original stories, the basics of which are given in the back of the book. I was grateful to have the opportunity to read and review this book. Throughout the book, the author narrates the stories in different voices. From the first which uses the device of “Say” at the start of each paragraph, an almost aggressive revelation of the revenge for removing the very essence of a woman. The contrast with another story, of long term love and affection, not only for a human love but for a silent animal. Disturbing links of birth and eggs dominate in one tale, where another is the success of love and modern sacrifice. The seasonal activities on an isolated island are implied, yet the power of traditions conflicts with the dreams of individuals. One story suggests how the world is affected by a climatic extreme, and how a relief is found. Sometimes the whole theme is turned around; negatives become positives, the complex made simple. Most of the tales are powerful, some are brief and funny, one or two are gentle and reassuring. Strong women, significant animals and so much more stream through these pages, giving many perspectives on a natural world at once familiar and challenging. I found this an enthralling and enjoyable book of stories. There is an illustration for every story, simple yet with an impact. The stories create worlds on the edge of reality, and always have at least one woman at the heart of the tale. They depict powerful women, each with a truth beyond the obvious. I enjoyed a book of accounts of women who propel the action rather than sit on the sidelines. Sometimes the sense of longing or sadness is overwhelming, and some stories convey disturbing elements. I recommend this book to those who know and love traditional tales from the British Isles and elsewhere, but also to those for whom these tales are new.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Karen Mace

    This is a stunning collection of magical stories that are based on myth and fairy tales across Europe, and I was totally captivated by the messages portrayed and the style of writing. I've often found with short story collections that they can be a little hit and miss with the impact each story has on me, but with this collection I found something positive to say about all of them - some are short and sweet, others are a little more complex and involved but they all had the effect of just making This is a stunning collection of magical stories that are based on myth and fairy tales across Europe, and I was totally captivated by the messages portrayed and the style of writing. I've often found with short story collections that they can be a little hit and miss with the impact each story has on me, but with this collection I found something positive to say about all of them - some are short and sweet, others are a little more complex and involved but they all had the effect of just making me want to read more of the lesser known fairy tales and folklore from different places, and that's exactly what I will be doing! Accompanied by many striking illustrations, each story features a theme - growing old, changes in the world we live in, grief, temptation - from the point of view of the women involved and I loved how that made you look at each story so differently. The role of a woman and how that changes over time and how others see her, and it really gives you so much to think about. There are also notes at the back of the book which give the outline of the original folklore story which helps give extra meaning to the story if you've not heard of it before, and that was invaluable! I think fairy stories have a special place in all our hearts and as we get older we end up discovering the different layers to each story that we may have missed while reading as a child which helps give them that longevity, along with the memories they also bring back and that is always a wonderful part of reading - to rediscover and learn! Having stories re-written like these brings about a new audience and new meaning to stories, and I'm glad to have spent time reading this and look forward to reading more from this author!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Emma Rowson

    These are short stories based on re-imaginings of myth, fairy tales and folk-lore, which have long held a fascination for me, but I’ve always shied away, feeling somehow intimidated by them. They’ve always unsettled me, and I can’t really explain why. The book itself shimmers with the air of the mystic; the cover is beautifully striking, and yet ominous. At the back of the collection are a set of notes detailing the origin of each story. I preferred to read this first, before beginning the story. These are short stories based on re-imaginings of myth, fairy tales and folk-lore, which have long held a fascination for me, but I’ve always shied away, feeling somehow intimidated by them. They’ve always unsettled me, and I can’t really explain why. The book itself shimmers with the air of the mystic; the cover is beautifully striking, and yet ominous. At the back of the collection are a set of notes detailing the origin of each story. I preferred to read this first, before beginning the story. For me, having context allowed me to drink in the incredible language; these stories are so beautifully written that there were sections which gave me actual goosebumps. The first paragraph of the story ‘Foxfire’ in particular, I’ve read over and over. I didn’t find this collection an easy read. It is an extraordinary read, but not one that I could sit and binge read. Instead I read it as I read poetry; slowly and carefully. I found that after almost every story I felt the need to sit and be with my thoughts. On first read the stand outs for me were ‘Foxfire’ and ‘The Water-Horse’, however I want to read them all again, as they are all so rich in terms of language and story that I feel as if one read is just scratching the surface of what they want to tell me. The theme of womanhood is timeless and I feel connected to these stories. This collection is unlike anything I’ve ever read before. It has ignited a desire to push past the feeling of intimidation and learn more about myth and folklore – there is a power in the words that links the present with the almost forgotten past, as the voices of our ancestors echo between the lines.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jaffareadstoo

    There’s something quite special about the myths and legends which give a country its identity. Stories which reach through the mists of time, soaking into our subconscious, so that whilst we don’t always know where they originated, we remain emotionally connected to the haunting quality of their particular brand of magic. In this extraordinary collection we allow our imagination full reign in stories which set fire the soul, which are in turn both mournful and uplifting, hauntingly beautiful and There’s something quite special about the myths and legends which give a country its identity. Stories which reach through the mists of time, soaking into our subconscious, so that whilst we don’t always know where they originated, we remain emotionally connected to the haunting quality of their particular brand of magic. In this extraordinary collection we allow our imagination full reign in stories which set fire the soul, which are in turn both mournful and uplifting, hauntingly beautiful and inherently dangerous. Beautifully written and highly original in their delivery, the author’s natural story-telling ability shines through with every well written word, capturing the very essence of our long forgotten myths and folklore. Every reimagined story has its own unique strength and yet there is something distinctly fascinating to be found in all of them. The thirteen stories vary in length, some are quite short, just a couple of pages, whilst others are a little longer, however, collectively, they form a wonderfully diverse mixture which are supported by stunning black and white illustrations. I have several favourites amongst the thirteen and in particular I would like to mention Wolfskin, Foxfire and Snow Queen as being stand out stories for me. At the back of the book is a fascinating notes section where the author explains the origins, placing the stories in their historical and geographical context. This is a really special collection of haunting stories which I’m sure will appeal to anyone who has an interest in the old tales of myth and folklore

  21. 5 out of 5

    The Literary Shed

    Foxfire, Wolfskin and Other Stories of Shapeshifting Women is a beautifully produced book, showcasing Sharon Blackie’s rather terrific tales. Drawing on global female folklore and mythology – from the familiar Snow Queen, immortalised by Hans Christian Andersen, to Croatia’s ‘she wolf’, with its similarities to the Celtic selkies, Slavic Baba Yaga, the creator-goddess turned crone, and the wonderful Scottish/Irish each–uisge (water horse) – this is an original volume of short stories. It focuses Foxfire, Wolfskin and Other Stories of Shapeshifting Women is a beautifully produced book, showcasing Sharon Blackie’s rather terrific tales. Drawing on global female folklore and mythology – from the familiar Snow Queen, immortalised by Hans Christian Andersen, to Croatia’s ‘she wolf’, with its similarities to the Celtic selkies, Slavic Baba Yaga, the creator-goddess turned crone, and the wonderful Scottish/Irish each–uisge (water horse) – this is an original volume of short stories. It focuses on the transformative nature of women in the face of adversity – to survive, create, regenerate. … This is great storytelling – imaginative, engaging, often beautiful. More to the point, it’s inspiring – telling of women who find their voice, their courage, their power, women who draw on nature and the environment to avenge, to rise again. What’s not to like? The fact that it comes in great packaging, with lovely illustrations by Helen Nicholson, is an added bonus. Read it – and please don’t weep. For the full review see: http://www.theliteraryshed.co.uk/read... This is based on a review published as part of the book's virtual tour. All opinions are our own. All rights reserved. Many thanks to the publisher for supplying a review copy.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    This is my second Sharon Blackie book and once again I so enjoyed stepping into the worlds she creates with her words. "Foxfire, Wolfskin and Other Stories of Shapeshifting Women" is a beautiful book made up of fables and fairy tales reimagined so the female character at their center lives their life fearless and free, unencumbered by the weaknesses of men. Ever since I was a girl, I have always taken issue with Disney's telling of fairy tales: Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Rapunzel, a This is my second Sharon Blackie book and once again I so enjoyed stepping into the worlds she creates with her words. "Foxfire, Wolfskin and Other Stories of Shapeshifting Women" is a beautiful book made up of fables and fairy tales reimagined so the female character at their center lives their life fearless and free, unencumbered by the weaknesses of men. Ever since I was a girl, I have always taken issue with Disney's telling of fairy tales: Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Rapunzel, all are at the mercy of men. They only become "seen" or "loved" or come fully into their story once the man appears and rescues them, or kisses them, or wakes them up. They are beautiful, codependent creatures. All those stories end with the kiss or the wedding, we never see the happily ever after, for how could it ever be so, as dependent as they are? In Blackie's retelling of these folktales, she gives us the woman's happy ever after, one of her own choosing. I particularly loved the stories "Wolfskin" and "The Last Man Standing" and "The Bogman's Wife" and especially "The Water-Horse." The whole book, but those stories in particular, came alive for me. I look forward to Blackie's next work.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Lel Budge

    This is a collection of short stories with a theme of strong women, all based on myths and legends from countries around the world. But, it’s not that simple…..there is magic, heartbreak, love, fear and power. It is beautifully written and really touches a nerve at times and will make you laugh and cry. For me, Last Man Standing is heartbreaking, and will make you cry for the old man. For the world we are destroying, but it has love at its core. Wolfskin, shows the cruelty of some men, and their This is a collection of short stories with a theme of strong women, all based on myths and legends from countries around the world. But, it’s not that simple…..there is magic, heartbreak, love, fear and power. It is beautifully written and really touches a nerve at times and will make you laugh and cry. For me, Last Man Standing is heartbreaking, and will make you cry for the old man. For the world we are destroying, but it has love at its core. Wolfskin, shows the cruelty of some men, and their comeuppance. Foxfire, is just stunning, the descriptions of the woods and the amber fox are just so clear, you can almost feel the silence of the forest. This is just three tales, but there are many more intense and powerful stories, each with a lovely, simple illustration too. I have fallen in love with this book and will be encouraging everyone to read it…..there will be at least one story that touches your soul. Thank you to Anne Cater and Random Things Tours for the opportunity to participate in this blog tour and for the promotional materials and a free copy of the book. This is my honest, unbiased review.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Annagrace

    This book. I’m not sure I can find adequate words. In short, I had just had a conversation about needing more stories from my own historic culture to feed the work I am currently doing. Lineage work and bone work (re-membering) need nourishment and I felt like my food stores had been meager from the beginning. Within days this book was in my hands. I suspect that these stories will meet everyone differently, depending on need and depending on desire, and that it has always been so. Which is why This book. I’m not sure I can find adequate words. In short, I had just had a conversation about needing more stories from my own historic culture to feed the work I am currently doing. Lineage work and bone work (re-membering) need nourishment and I felt like my food stores had been meager from the beginning. Within days this book was in my hands. I suspect that these stories will meet everyone differently, depending on need and depending on desire, and that it has always been so. Which is why certain tellings outlast others when certain power structures are dominant and when children grow up suspicious and critical of women’s words and experiences and eager to apologize for male-centered world views. Sharon Blackie has brilliantly updated the context of these gorgeous ancient tales to reflect the urgency of climate, extinction, and present violence, to remind us of the culpability of nature and mystery-divorced religious systems, to beg us to notice the relentless oppression of beauty, and to give us powerful images of how woman have survived the very worst experiences.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Lucienne Boyce

    Every time I start a new book I have a secret hope: this time I'm going to discover something wonderful, entrancing, beautiful. Falling in love with a book is a strange chemistry: you can't always explain it, you can't always trace all the influences, resonances, memories and ideas that lead up to the discovery of a book that (as Wodehouse might have said) gets in amongst you. All you know is that when you're finished it you're going to go straight back to the beginning and start all over again. Every time I start a new book I have a secret hope: this time I'm going to discover something wonderful, entrancing, beautiful. Falling in love with a book is a strange chemistry: you can't always explain it, you can't always trace all the influences, resonances, memories and ideas that lead up to the discovery of a book that (as Wodehouse might have said) gets in amongst you. All you know is that when you're finished it you're going to go straight back to the beginning and start all over again. It's not always a book other people rave about (though they might), and it's often a book that when you rave about it to your friends they look at it and go "oh." It doesn't do anything for them. And it doesn't happen very often. There are lots of good books, lots of great books, lots of enjoyable books, and I love them all. But a book I 'fall in love' with doesn't come along very often. And I'm about to go straight back to the beginning of Sharon Blackie's Foxfire, Wolfskin and Other Stories of Shape-Shifting Women...

  26. 4 out of 5

    Edy Levin

    After first reading If Women Rose Rooted: A Life-changing Journey to Authenticity and Belonging, I longed to explore some of the stories of women as mythic creators so that I could rewrite the conditioning that I had accepted and begin to craft an existence that is more balanced in both feminine and masculine qualities. This exploration of women shape-shifters was just the medicine for that journey. After first reading If Women Rose Rooted: A Life-changing Journey to Authenticity and Belonging, I longed to explore some of the stories of women as mythic creators so that I could rewrite the conditioning that I had accepted and begin to craft an existence that is more balanced in both feminine and masculine qualities. This exploration of women shape-shifters was just the medicine for that journey.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Kat Skarbek

    I absolutely loved this book of short stories by Blackie. They are marvellous, lyrical retellings of old myths and fairytales with clever twists and sudden turns and always shot through with deep abiding wisdom and this quiet, yet feral keening that calls us back to our wild woman selves. Truly captivating. These stories are perfect for a quiet Autumn afternoon or a long Winter's night. If you are lucky enough to listen to the audio version, you will have the added delight of hearing the many ac I absolutely loved this book of short stories by Blackie. They are marvellous, lyrical retellings of old myths and fairytales with clever twists and sudden turns and always shot through with deep abiding wisdom and this quiet, yet feral keening that calls us back to our wild woman selves. Truly captivating. These stories are perfect for a quiet Autumn afternoon or a long Winter's night. If you are lucky enough to listen to the audio version, you will have the added delight of hearing the many accented voices of the tales - Scottish, Irish, Welsh, English - all female, all fierce and passionate story-tellers - and that is a joy too. Can't recommend this book highly enough.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Sian

    Rounded up from 3.5 stars, because of the Afterword and because while I thought the execution was slightly off, I love the intention. Basically I think this is a book to dip into rather than read in one go, because most of the stories have a very similar 'voice' and style - a monologue, with frequent rhetorical questions, that just became a bit relentless by the end. But I did discover folklore that I wasn’t aware of, particularly from Ireland, and want to learn more about. I think No Country fo Rounded up from 3.5 stars, because of the Afterword and because while I thought the execution was slightly off, I love the intention. Basically I think this is a book to dip into rather than read in one go, because most of the stories have a very similar 'voice' and style - a monologue, with frequent rhetorical questions, that just became a bit relentless by the end. But I did discover folklore that I wasn’t aware of, particularly from Ireland, and want to learn more about. I think No Country for Old Women is the standout story and it’s a shame it’s the last. I also liked The Madness of Mis and The Last Man Standing,

  29. 5 out of 5

    betwixt.the.pages

    I’ve never read any folk tales before so this was my first taste of them and I absolutely loved it! I love that this version compiles strictly female-focused stories, highlighting feminine power as well as human interaction with nature - namely human’s disregard for animals and the environment. In almost all of the stories the female is at one with nature, whereas the male is at odds with it. Then there’s the shapeshifting element which is quite fantastical and in some stories leaves the reader I’ve never read any folk tales before so this was my first taste of them and I absolutely loved it! I love that this version compiles strictly female-focused stories, highlighting feminine power as well as human interaction with nature - namely human’s disregard for animals and the environment. In almost all of the stories the female is at one with nature, whereas the male is at odds with it. Then there’s the shapeshifting element which is quite fantastical and in some stories leaves the reader wondering whether she did in fact shapeshift - it is often left open to interpretation in these stories which I found very clever. This is the perfect autum/winter read and I know this is a book I will cherish for years to come.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Alex

    I received Foxfire,Wolfskin and Other Stories by Sharon Blackie after winning it in a Goodreads Giveaway.I really liked the author's descriptive writing and way with words and how each story had its own unique voice and style,although there were some stories that could of benefited from a different point of view,other then 2nd person,which just felt kind of odd reading wise.The book itself,in particular,the art on the dust jacket,was gorgeous and the illustrations by Helen Nicholson that accompa I received Foxfire,Wolfskin and Other Stories by Sharon Blackie after winning it in a Goodreads Giveaway.I really liked the author's descriptive writing and way with words and how each story had its own unique voice and style,although there were some stories that could of benefited from a different point of view,other then 2nd person,which just felt kind of odd reading wise.The book itself,in particular,the art on the dust jacket,was gorgeous and the illustrations by Helen Nicholson that accompanied the stories fit them well.I also liked having a bit of background about the origins of each tale,which helped explain things,as I was reading. An intriguing short story collection about female empowerment and transformation,both literally and figuratively.

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