Tales of Arilland is a collection of short stories, ostensibly set in Alethia Kontis’s fictional world of Arilland where she has set her set of fairytale retellings. Like most short story collections this one is uneven, and the stories range from decent to quite good. While I don’t believe you need to have read the previous Arriland books, a series of fairytale retellings staring a very peculiar family-the Woodcutters, and in fact I think this could be a very good introduction to the series.
Reviewing short story collections is tricky, there isn’t one plot to tie the book together and short stories are hard to discuss without giving everything away. The stories I was most disappointed with in this book were, sadly, the ones most closely connected to the rest of the Arilland novels. The stories Sunday and Warning: Spoilers Ahead were taken directly from those novels. Sunday is a condensed version of the first half of Enchanted. And by being so condensed it looses a lot of the things that I enjoyed in Enchanted. Warning: Spoilers Ahead is literally a chapter from Dearest. That annoyed me a lot. Ignoring those two stories, the rest of the collection was mostly enjoyable.
The Unicorn Hunter is a fabulous Snow White retelling. This is one of my favorites from the book.
Hero Worship is a Little Red Ridding Hood retelling, or rather an after the fact story. It also features a little seen member of the Woodcutter family. This was another one I really enjoyed.
Sweetheart Come was an odd one. It wasn’t a retelling of any fairytale I recognize, but it used several fairytale tropes to tell the story. It was an ok story.
Blood and Water is probably my favorite story from this book. It’s a very dark Little Mermaid story and one of the more original takes on that story that I’ve come across.
Well-Behaved Mermaids Rarely Make Fairy Tales is short and feels very much like a writing exercise as opposed to a story. This was probably the biggest disappointment in the book.
Blood from Stone is a Bluebeard based story, not a retelling exactly, but a prequel maybe? It’s the darkest story in the book, and I’m not sure I liked it really.
Unicorn Gold is another one where I can’t pinpoint a specific fairytale but it uses a lot of fairytale tropes. It was meh.
Finally there is The Cursed Prince which features Prince Rumbold from Enchanted and tells the story of how he came to the point he was at the start of Enchanted. I did like this one, it was a fun addition to the Arilland mythos that Kontis is building.
Overall, it’s a decent collection of short stories. For the most part Kontis sticks to the more well known fairytales, or she goes so esoteric that I have never heard of the stories she references. Nonetheless there are some pretty decent additions to the fairytale retelling genre and I liked most of them.