Fairy tales are filled with dashing heroes, clever heroines and faithful companions. But all of these characters would be utterly useless without a proper villain to fight against. Whether it’s a wicked witch or a grumpy troll, the wretched villain is integral to the story. But what about their side of the story? Surely the villain doesn’t consider him or herself the bad guy. In the villain’s head, they are the hero of their own story.
This collection of short stories and poems by some of the leading names in science fiction and fantasy take a look at classic folktales from the point of view of the villain. Why do the bad guys do what they do? Are they really evil, or just misunderstood? Different authors have different takes on the situation. Some create a series of mishaps that make the “villain” only appear to be bad, when they were really just trying to help. Others acknowledge their misdeeds while trying to justify them.
Like any collection of short stories, the offering vary in quality. They are all strong enough, however, that I suspect that what were some of my favorites might be the very ones other readers dismiss as lackluster, and vice versa. Many of the stories are funny, though some are quite serious and a handful are even a little scary. While familiarity with the original story adds depth to the reading experience, most of the tales stand on their own even without prior knowledge.