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November 8, 2022

Into the Forest edited by Lindy Ryan ~ a Review

by MK French

Into the Forest
 is a collection of stories inspired by Baba Yaga, the witch of stories that lives in a cottage that sits on large chicken legs and is decorated in human skulls. In those stories, she flies through the skies in a mortar and pestle, and can strike deals with mortals if her whims take her in that direction rather than murder and mayhem.

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

book cover of fantasy anthology Into the Forest edited by Lindy Ryan
November 2022; Black Spot Books; 978-1645481232
audio, ebook, print (270 pages); fantasy anthology

We open with a poem, a spell. Then we are slowly drawn in from our time to that of the past over the next stories. Baba Yaga might be in the brambles outside an oppressive HOA, or she could be on the other side of a bog waiting for those desperate enough to find her despite the stories about her. She could be old or young, but knows magic and doesn't conform to the patriarchal society we know. In "Wormwood," she isn't even physically present to enact judgment but watches everything from the surface of collected water. In other stories, she directly saves the young ladies that would have been killed, taking them on as apprentices.

Other fairy tales are referred to, which I found especially fun. "Mama Yaga" turns Hansel and Gretel on its head, and "All Bitterness Burned Away" twists some of the story even more. "Water Like Broken Glass" draws on the myth of the Rusalka. Though there's no distinct myth in "Fair Trade," it also carries the weight of fairy tales and how getting wishes granted doesn't mean you're truly happy. The forest and nature are indifferent to wants and needs, and many stories reflect that here. In some cases, that chilling indifference lingers long after the book is shut. That's definitely the sign of a well-cultivated collection.

Buy Into the Forest at Amazon

Born and raised in New York City, M.K. French started writing stories when very young, dreaming of different worlds and places to visit. She always had an interest in folklore, fairy tales, and the macabre, which has definitely influenced her work. She currently lives in the Midwest with her husband, three young children, and a golden retriever.

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