Review: “And They Lived” by S.E. Zbasnik

theylived_sezbasnikFinal Rating: threeandahalfcupscropped cups of creepy tea!

Find it on: AmazonGoodreads

And They Lived is a collection of short stories based off of classic fairy tales and given creepy, horror-esque twists. I pre-ordered it before its release in October, and unfortunately because Life Happens and because I am a bit forgetful, I didn’t get around to reading it until almost Christmas. (Oops.) I wish I hadn’t put it off, though, because it would have been perfect for a late night read around Halloween. Though I suppose Santa is pretty creepy too, when you stop to think about it.

As the title implies, the main focus of the stories in this anthology is to provide an alternative to the usual trope of a fairy tale woman either dying tragically, or being rescued by a prince and ushered into a life of marital “bliss”. They Lived challenges these roles by giving the women jobs & lives of their own. (Usually in the assassin or spy trade because that’s just how Zbasnik rolls, bless her bloodthirsty heart.) Sometimes they transcend humanity entirely and become something other, usually right around the time a hapless man wanders into their lives just in time for lunch. It definitely achieves its goal of being horrific, and I mean that in the best possible way. There were more than a few times I cringed or shivered or said to myself I really didn’t want to piss any of these ladies off in a dark alley.

Unfortunately, I can’t give this anthology full marks because there were still a lot of typos and even a few grammatical issues present. There were also times when an example or a description went on a bit too long and I actually got a bit lost with what was happening. Making one’s point in a creative way isn’t always easy, I know, but the author takes it a little too far in some places. I feel like They Lived would have benefited greatly from a stricter editing regime.

It’s still very good, though, and well worth the price. I definitely recommend this if you like creepy and not-too-gory (though there is some) horror stuff with a focus on women being, y’know, actual people and not just scream machines. 🙂

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