Trenchcoats, Towers, and Trolls
World Weaver Press (2022)
Reviewed by Haley Kilgour for Reader Views (10/2021)
When I first picked up “Trenchcoats, Towers, and Trolls,” I was expecting strictly retellings. And there are some great ones in here, including but not limited to Alice in Wonderland, Snow White and Rumplestiltskin. But there are other stories that aren’t based on any particular fairy tale, but more the “ideas” such as the troll under the bridge. And there were still other stories that had more of a fairy tale vibe and the morals that you can find a better place in the world and what not.
Personally, I preferred the stories that were truer to retellings. Even if they looked different, you still knew them. And I personally enjoy seeing how people can change, adapt, and bastardize something yet keep it completely familiar. The ones not based on any tales that I could recognize just seemed… to miss the mark a bit for me. They were mostly what felt like stories designed to inspire and show that you can leave bad situations with enough will, skill, and luck. I’m not saying these stories were bad, but I do think they would’ve been better off in an anthology that’s not supposed to be fairy tale retellings.
I did find it interesting that most of the stories focus on dystopian worlds. I personally don’t read much cyberpunk, but what I have read has been mostly dystopian, so I’m always interested in finding one that isn’t. Still, the worlds were well molded and while I sometimes wish a little more world building had been done, I fully recognize the constraints of short stories.
Though not in all the stories, I did love the diversity some of them had. I won’t say which to prevent spoilers but there was a sapphic romance and a trans woman. And a few stories were even non-Caucasian/Christian based retellings. I thought they were all excellent additions to the retellings. Particularly, the story with the trans woman was extremely well done and anyone who has, is, wants to, or is considering transitioning should read this story.
If you are a fan of retellings and sci-fi and/or cyberpunk, “Trenchcoats, Towers, and Trolls,” is a good one for you.