It's not necessary to have read anything else set in these locales to appreciate either story (I hadn't at the time I read this collection, and still haven't read any other Witch World fiction); but in the case of the humorous "Utensile Strength," spun off from Wrede's own Enchanted Forest Chronicles (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/8... It's enhanced by a short author's note explaining the inspiration for each of the stories; and readers who like recipes with their books will also like the appended one for "Quick After Battle Triple Chocolate Cake," inspired by the culinary-related "Utensile Strength," and requested by Jane Yolen, who published the first printing of the collection.
As a general rule of thumb, I don't like wizards and I dislike books that are simply a collection of short stories. The very last story even has characters from The Enchanted Forest Chronicles!
Short fairy-tale type stories, some of which take place in the Enchanted Forest. My favorite story of the bunch. A nearby elderly woodcutter comes home to find a stranger at his doorstep, asking for assistance getting in. Interesting twist to a traditional tale. Utensile Strength, also referred to the Frying Pan of Doom: **** Brings back our favorite Enchanted Forrest characters, Cimmorene, Mendanbar, and Daystar. A frying pan was enchanted as a weapon by mistake, and the family agrees to help by finding the hero that can wield it.
I think, perhaps, that I am too old to read these stories. These three stories are the gems of this book and I encourage anyone, young or old, to read them because they speak to our darkest fears, our fondest hopes, and to the child in us all. If I had been 13 when I read this for the first time instead of 27, I think I would have been madly in love with the stories and the storyteller.
The ten stories included are the following: "Rikiki and the Wizard" "The Princess, the Cat, and the Unicorn" "Roses by Moonlight" "The Sixty-Two Curses of Caliph Arenschadd" "Earthwitch" "The Sword-Seller" "The Lorelei" "Stronger Than Time" "Cruel Sisters" "Utensile Strength" Two tongue-in-cheek tales are set in the "Enchanted Forest" of the author's existing dragon book series. Even readers who aren't drawn to the literature of sword and sorcery may enjoy "Utensile Strength," a humorous tale in which a wizard tries to create the ultimate weapon and ends up with the Frying Pan of Doom.
I do not usually read short stories. In this collection for Jan Yolen books, there are ten stories (and a cake recipe!) blending folklore, fairytale, and fantasy to create a most appealing melange to charm and delight. Wrede turns the fantasy and fairytale tropes on their heads for many of the stories, including "The Princess, the Cat, and the Unicorn" and "Utensile Strength." She re-imagines fairy and folk tales in "The Lorelei" and "Stronger Than Time." One of my favorite folk songs is fleshed out and given life in "Cruel Sisters." And her "Roses by Moonlight," her take on the Prodigal Son story, is haunting and fascinating.
They end up in the Enchanted Forest where they meet a unicorn who has decided ideas about how they should spend the rest of their time. Review: It's nice to return to the Enchanted Forest and with a talking cat (which I suspect is related to a certain witch's cats). The unicorn definitely feels like the kind of tricky thing you'd find in the Enchanted Forest. Notes on content: One rabbit gets killed and it is described a little. Review: This is another more serious and mature story. It feels a bit like something from a King Arthur story but the magic is definitely different from Merlin's. It almost doesn't feel like enough story. Notes on content: Many deaths, some gory and some just horrifying. Review: I figured out the twist in this one pretty early. Notes on content: Numerous deaths mentioned, and some decaying bodies a little described. Review: Not a fun story at all, but it is skillfully written. Notes on content: Two deaths, neither bloody. Review: I've missed Mendanbar and Cimorene and all the Enchanted Forest gang. This was like slipping back into my favorite stories, but with new great adventures.
While there is an Enchanted Forest series story in this one (Frying Pan of Doom), the real gems are the stand-alones.
She finished it five years later and started her second book at once, having become permanently hooked on writing by this time. She worked for several years as a financial analyst and accountant, first with the Minnesota Hospital Association, then with B. She has no children, but as of this writing, she does have four nieces and four nephews ranging in age from seven months to twelve years old and in geographical location from Maine to Alabama.