Talking stags, on the other hand, were nearly always bespelled royalty, and fairies, who could theoretically choose to look like anything, nearly always picked white cats or black horses. Fairies are very beautiful and very vain and they haven’t got the imagination to fill a thimble. And they never learn from their mistakes.
I’ve followed Ursula Vernon over on deviantart for years, mostly for her gorgeous paintings and collages of clockwork creatures, animal saints, hamster warriors, and other beautifully absurd beasties. Almost more than the art, though, I loved the descriptions. She loves to drop the reader smack into the middle of a new world, one she created just to explain why she drew an Iguanodon in a gardener’s hat, or because she liked the name “bramble dragon” and needed a place to put one.
Between deviantart and her blog, I’ve gotten hooked on her writing, and was hoping to someday own a book of her short stories. So you can imaging all the cheering when I ran across “Toad Words, And Other Stories.” (Written under the name T. Kingfisher, since she writes a lovely series of children’s books and likes to keep this slightly more adult work under a different name.)
It’s a book of re-told fairy tales, all in the quirky, matter-of-fact-in-the-face-of-total-nonsense style that I’ve always loved. They’re often dark, sometimes sad, but always endearing, even when they’re disturbing. She’s taken the stories we’ve grown up with and asked why people stuck in a fairy tale would do the things they do. She also assumes we might have only heard one person’s side of the story; who knows what actually happened.